Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, August 8, 2019
Illegal immigration across the southwestern border has been cut dramatically over the past two months, officials revealed Thursday, pointing to President Trump’s deal with Mexico to step up that country’s enforcement as the chief reason.
The Border Patrol nabbed about 72,000 people who sneaked across the border in July — a reduction of almost half compared with the peak of two months ago.
Border cities that were so overwhelmed that they declared states of emergency are getting back to normal, with drops of 70% or more in the regions of El Paso, Texas, and Yuma, Arizona.
“We have some good news on the numbers in July. They are definitely declining,” Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, told reporters as he announced the latest figures.
He said the lower numbers mean better conditions for those who are still making the trek and getting caught, with overcrowding in detention facilities dropping dramatically. Where border facilities had more than 19,000 people in custody at one point in June, they had about 4,700 in custody Thursday.
That is partly a result of the emergency spending bill President Trump demanded and Congress passed in late June. That legislation provided $4.6 billion to improve conditions and allowed thousands of children to be moved from border facilities to dorms run by the Health and Human Services Department.
He cautioned that the border is still in a crisis with CBP on pace this year to nab 1 million migrants either sneaking across the border or showing up at ports of entry without permission to enter.
In July, Border Patrol agents caught 71,999 sneaking into the country and CBP officers stopped 10,050 more at ports of entry.
Of those, nearly 47,000 came as families and nearly 6,000 more were unaccompanied children — those who arrived without a parent. Those are the two populations that have most taxed Homeland Security this year.
Officials say migrants are enticed by “loopholes” in U.S. law that virtually assure them quick release into U.S. communities, where they can disappear into the shadows.
The surrounding Rio Grande sector is still running at a high number of Border Patrol apprehensions, with only a 25% drop last month from the peak in May. But apprehensions in El Paso are down 70% from May to July, and Yuma’s number is down nearly 75%.
Brian Hastings, chief of operations at the Border Patrol, said that is more proof that Mexico’s cooperation is helping, with the Migrant Protection Protocol having taken hold in those areas.
Mr. Morgan said the declines over the past two months are paying off in terms of better border security.
For one thing, he said, agents in places like El Paso and Yuma are getting back to their regular patrol duties. They had been pulled from those duties to babysit the surge of migrants, performing hospital watch or transportation.