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Border apprehensions drop for first time this fiscal year

A Border Patrol vehicle sits along the border fenceline separating San Diego and Tijuana Mexico watching for illegal crossings in March 2016. The border fence between San Diego and Mexico is a deterrent to illegal immigration, drug smuggling and human trafficking. The fence is regularly patrolled by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents on the lookout for illegal crossings. (Donna Burton/Customs and Border Protection)

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said the number of apprehended people at the U.S.-Mexico border dropped in June, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended 104,344 people in June, down nearly 30% from May’s apprehensions, when 144,278 immigrants were apprehended, the DHS release read.

June’s numbers come amid reports that the “Remain in Mexico” policy, a DHS-led initiative which returns recently arrived immigrants to Mexico to wait for their respective U.S. immigration proceedings, has been expanded to the Mexican state of Tamaulipas.

“Additionally, we are working with the Government of Mexico to expand Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) to allow the U.S. to more effectively assist legitimate asylum-seekers and individuals fleeing persecution and deter migrants with false or meritless claims from making the journey.

“And since the administration reached a new agreement with Mexico, we’ve seen a substantial increase in the number of interdictions on the Mexican southern border,” the release read.

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In June, President Trump threatened to implement strict tariffs on Mexico if they failed to control the migration of Central American asylum seekers.

Shortly thereafter, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador subsequently deployed Mexican National Guard troops to stop the flow of people surrendering to agents at the border.

U.S. government officials confirmed Tuesday that they began sending Central American asylum seekers to Tamaulipas, specifically to the city of Nuevo Laredo.

Tamaulipas is on the U.S Department of State’s list of Mexican states in which U.S. citizens are told to “exercise increased caution” while visiting, listing it as a “Level 2” advisory due to “crime and kidnapping,” according to the website.

Tamaulipas is also known as the home of the Gulf and Zeta cartels, which routinely engage in kidnappings and other violent acts.

CBP defines an apprehension as anyone detained after arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border without legal authorization, but since December, apprehensions have primarily been made up of families and unaccompanied children from the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, who are seeking asylum and have been surrendering to agents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The increase in families and unaccompanied minors arriving at the southwest border has caused overcrowding in most CBP and Border Patrol facilities.

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Due to this large flow of arrivals, DHS officials have taken a “whole of government” approach to deal with what they characterize as an “ongoing crisis” at the border.

In conjunction with MPP, DHS has added personnel from across the agency to “high capacity” locations along the U.S.-Mexico border, requesting and receiving continued support from the Department of Defense, expanding medical services, establishing additional soft-sided facilities, rescue response operations, and requesting and receiving emergency supplemental funding from Congress, according to the DHS release.

DHS, CBP and Border Patrol officials continue to advocate for an overhaul of immigration policy as a means to deter the seemingly endless flow of asylum-seekers arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border every day.

Through the end of June, the agency reports Border Patrol agents made a total 688,375 apprehensions, with three months left in fiscal year 2019.

Historically, apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border remain at levels not seen since fiscal year 2006, when agents apprehended a total of 1,071,972 immigrants.

Before that, apprehension levels topped more than a million each year between 1983 and 1987, between 1990 and 1993, 1995 through 2001, and between 2004 and 2006.

The last time apprehensions neared a million was more than 10 years ago, in fiscal year 2007, when Border Patrol agents made 858,638 apprehensions, according to the agency’s website.

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© 2019 The Monitor (McAllen, Texas)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.