The number of border apprehensions for illegal immigrants crossing the southern U.S. border in September dropped nearly 70 percent compared to a high point in May of this year.
In May, 144,000 illegal immigrants were caught at the border, but that number reduced to 52,546 in September, The Washington Times reported. Despite this recent drop, the U.S. saw the highest number of border apprehensions in over a decade in 2019.
As of the end of the 2019 fiscal year on Sept. 30, the border patrol had apprehended a total of 850,000 illegal immigrants.
Customs and Border Protection agents detained 5,000 people in a day at one point near the height of the immigration influx. In September, that number was down to about 1,700.
U.S. officials announced Tuesday that the number reduced so greatly due to a change in policy which prevented the would-be illegal immigrants from entering the country before they could do so by apprehending them in Central America, where a significant portion of illegal immigrants originates.
“This is an unprecedented achievement,” acting CBP commissioner Mark Morgan told reporters at the White House when he announced the numbers.
Under the “Remain in Mexico” program that the Trump administration initiated at the end of 2018, would-be illegal immigrants who crossed through Mexico in an attempt to enter the United States are kept in Mexico while their asylum claims are evaluated.
In August, the number of illegal immigrants caught at the border was 64,600, which was a 22 percent decrease from July, which saw 82,000 illegal immigrants.
Mexico is helping the United States hold back the flood of illegals, a White House official told Breitbart. The drop shows “the incredible work that the government of Mexico is doing … What they are doing in unprecedented.”
“They are doing a lot, but we do need them to do more,” the official added.
Morgan echoed that claim in the announcement on Tuesday, saying, “The cooperation and partnership we have with Mexico right now is one for the history books.”
Immigration activists and have criticized Trump’s immigration policies, which they say come at the expense of migrant rights and harm relations between the U.S. and international partners.
“Trump has cut aid, bullied neighbors, caged kids, separated families, gutted asylum, truncated or eliminated due process and forced refugees back to dangerous conditions in northern Mexico,” Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, said. “It has led to a human rights catastrophe at our border.”
While Sharry said the U.S. should treat the migrant influx as a challenge, rather than a crisis, he cast doubt on the Trump administration’s ability to change course.
“For Trump, Stephen Miller and the DHS leadership, cruelty is the point,” Sharry said.
By contrast, Morgan said the recent Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) have not created a dangerous situation and the United Nations has monitored the issues at the U.S. southern border. Morgan said UN monitors have also helped return migrants who have given up on their immigration claims.