Officials announced last week that the number of people arrested crossing the Mexico border into the United States has fallen to the lowest level in seventeen years.
According to US Customs and Border Protection, in March there were fewer than 17,000 arrests of undocumented migrants, the least since 2000.
Speaking to Congress, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly stated that the decline was “no accident” as he credited President Donald Trump. Mr Kelly, who is a retired Marine general, testified about the figures to the Senat Homeland Security Committee. He told the panel, “we’ve seen an absolutely amazing drop in the number of migrants coming out of Central America that are taking that terribly dangerous route from Central America to the United States.” He went on to say that “March marks the fifth straight month of decline and is estimated to be approximately 71% lower than the December 2016 total – 58,478,” noting however that “…while this recent decline in illegal migration is good news, we must ensure that the security of our southern border remains a priority to protect the nation from terrorists and other criminals.” Senator John McCain asked if Mr Kelly’s agency was receiving help from Mexican officials, with Mr Kelly stating that the US was receiving “a huge amount of co-operation from the Mexicans,” citing “very, very good relationships with the Mexicans, both on their southern border where they stopped 160,000 illegal immigrants from Central America last year.”
According to data released by US Customs and Border Protection, in February 23,589 immigrants were apprehended at the border.
Also last week, the US government began accepting bids from contractors to build a prototype for a border wall. President Trump has pledged to build a “big, beautiful wall” along the 3,200 km (2,000 mile) border with Mexico. Last week at th hearing, Mr Kelly told the Senate committee that “it is unlikely that we will build a physical wall from sea to shining sea,” adding that sensors, drones and other technology will fill in gaps where the wall will not be present and that “physical barriers do work if they’re put in the right places.”
The United States government announced this month that the number of illegal immigrants crossing into the US from Mexico went down by 40% from January to February.
Homeland Security Chief John Kelly disclosed that the “change in trends” was the result of President Donald Trump’s tough policies. Mr Kelly disclosed that the number of “inadmissible persons” crossing the US-Mexico border had dropped this year from 31,578 to 18,762 in January to February – a period when the number of arrests of illegal immigrants usually increases. He disclosed that “since the administration’s implementation of executive orders to enforce immigration laws, apprehensions and inadmissible activity is trending toward the lowest monthly total in at least the last five years.”
New rules announced by the Trump Administration last month included plans to send undocumented people to Mexico, even if they are not Mexicans, and expand the criteria for immediate deportations. The government disclosed that the new guidelines would not usher in mass deportations, but were instead designed to empower agents to enforce laws that are already on the books. The president has also signed an executive order for an “impassable physical barrier” on the US-Mexico border and has insisted that Mexico will pay for it, despite its repeated refusals. The measures have been condemned by Mexico as being “hostile and “unacceptable.”
The president made immigration and border control a key part of his election campaign, promising to protect Americans from “bad dudes.” An estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants live in the US, many of whom are from Mexico.
Meanwhile on Monday 6 March, President Trump revised his travel ban, barring people from six mainly Muslim countries. The ban however has since faced its first legal challenge from the state of Hawaii. State lawyers have asked for an emergency block on the order, stating that the measure will harm its residents, businesses and schools.
While the revised measure removed some of the more controversial language on religious minorities, Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin disclosed that it still constituted a “Muslim ban” due to the countries involved and past statements from the administration.
The directive, which includes a 120-day ban on all refugees, will take effect on 16 March. Citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Somali, Sudan and Yemen, the other six countries on the original 27 January order, will once more be subject to a 90-day travel ban. Iraq, which was listed on the original order, has since been removed from the list.
President Trump’s previous order was halted by the US federal courts amidst concerns that it unfairly targeted Muslims. It caused chaos at airports and mass protests.