A group of asylum seekers crossed the border from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico to El Paso on July 4 and turned themselves in to waiting U.S. Border Patrol agents. USA TODAY NETWORK

Federal officials credit Trump’s crackdown after border apprehensions dropped in August

The number of people who were apprehended by or surrendered to federal immigration officials on the U.S.-Mexico border dipped by more than 20 percent last month, the Department of Homeland Security announced Monday. After totalling 82,055 apprehensions in July, the agency reported an August total of about 64,000 apprehensions — a decrease of 22%.

The August total includes about 50,700 apprehensions by U.S. Border Patrol agents between the official ports of entry and about 13,300 “inadmissables” who presented themselves at a port of entry but were deemed inadmissible by Customs and Border Protection officers.

It’s the third straight monthly decline and the lowest since January’s total of about 58,300. The August total is also less than half of this year’s peak in May, when more than 144,000 people were apprehended at the border.

Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan said the dip is a direct result of President Trump’s immigration policies and not traditional seasonal slowdowns caused by the summer heat. Those policies include the Migrant Protection Protocols, which require migrants to wait in Mexico for their immigration hearings, and forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico before they are allowed to apply.

Moran said during a news conference Monday that seasonal slowdowns usually account for an 8 percent dip.

“If you look from June to July, we saw those numbers drop by 40 percent,” he said. “Last year from July to August, the numbers actually went up 16 percent. This is the season when they start going up. And this year, down 23 percent. It’s what this president and this administration is doing, it has nothing to do with seasonal trends.”

The declines can also be partially attributed to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s deployment of federal troops to that country’s southern border with Guatemala to help slow the flow of migrants from Central America traveling north. That move came after Trump threatened to impose tariffs of up to 25% on Mexican imports.

Although the numbers have dipped in recent months, border agents have already apprehended thousands more migrants this fiscal year than during all of the 2018 fiscal year. The federal government’s fiscal year runs from October to September.

Texas continues to be the busiest crossing point for migrants, and the two largest categories of unauthorized crossers continue to be family units and unaccompanied minors seeking asylum in the United States.

From October to August, more than 205,000 family units were apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley sector, which covers South Texas — a 277% increase over the same period in 2018. About 33,100 unaccompanied minors have also been apprehended in the sector so far this year, compared with 21,556 during 2018 – a 54% increase.

Agents in the El Paso sector, which includes New Mexico, apprehended about 129,400 family units from October to August of the current fiscal year, along with 15,800 unaccompanied minors. That’s an increase of about 1,243% and 221%, respectively.

Author:  JULIÁN AGUILARThe Texas Tribune