Num­ber of bor­der crossers drops

30% de­cline at­trib­uted to crack­down by Mex­i­can gov­ern­ment on north­bound mi­grants

Yuma Sun - - FRONT PAGE -

PHOENIX — The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion said Mon­day it saw a 30% drop in the num­ber of peo­ple ap­pre­hended at the south­ern U.S. bor­der from July to Au­gust, amid an ag­gres­sive crack­down by the Mex­i­can gov­ern­ment on mi­grants trav­el­ing north.

Act­ing Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion Com­mis­sioner Mark Mor­gan said at the White House that the per­cent­age of bor­der crossers who are trav­el­ing as fam­i­lies also slid, a wel­come change for U.S. au­thor­i­ties who claim adults bring chil­dren to the U.S. be­cause the gov­ern­ment can’t de­tain them for as long. Mi­grants trav­el­ing in fam­i­lies and un­ac­com­pa­nied chil­dren ac­counted for 57% of bor­der ar­rests in Au­gust, down from 67% in July and 72% in May.

Mor­gan cred­ited Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ef­forts to re­duce im­mi­gra­tion as well as the Mex­i­can gov­ern­ment’s clam­p­down on mi­grants trav­el­ing north, which it says re­sulted in a 56% re­duc­tion in three months. He said the drop has “noth­ing to do” with sea­sonal trends in which fewer mi­grants cross dur­ing the hot sum­mer months.

“We are ab­so­lutely en­cour­aged by the down­ward trend of ap­pre­hen­sion num­bers but we know these num­bers can al­ways spike up­wards,” he said. “His­tory has shown that. We’ve seen it hap­pen in the past.”

The Bor­der Patrol ap­pre­hended just over 50,600 peo­ple at the south­ern bor­der in Au­gust, com­pared to nearly 72,000 in July and over 132,000 in May, at the peak of il­le­gal bor­der cross­ings. Au­thor­i­ties at of­fi­cial ports of en­tries also turned away 13,300 peo­ple in Au­gust, an in­crease from the 10,000 turned back in July. There are about 19,000 peo­ple wait­ing in Mex­ico to for­mally re­quest asy­lum in the U.S.

Randy Capps, direc­tor of re­search at the Mi­gra­tion Pol­icy In­sti­tute, said while the num­ber of ap­pre­hen­sions has dropped, it’s still high com­pared to Au­gust in other years. He said the spike the U.S. saw in the spring isn’t nec­es­sar­ily tied to the weather but to chaos at the bor­der.

“The smug­glers know when there’s chaos they have a lot more op­tions.

They can lower prices or make bet­ter guar­an­tees,” Capps said.

A ma­jor­ity of im­mi­grants com­ing to the U.S. are Cen­tral Amer­i­can fam­i­lies who turn themselves in af­ter cross­ing the bor­der and are flee­ing vi­o­lence and poverty. Many seek asy­lum.

Yuma, Ari­zona, saw a dra­matic spike in the num­ber of fam­i­lies and un­ac­com­pa­nied chil­dren com­ing to the bor­der over the past two years, mak­ing it the third-busiest sector in the South­west. So far this year, the Yuma sector has seen over 51,000 fam­ily units. That’s com­pared to just over 10,700 the year be­fore— a 316% in­crease.

In June, bor­der of­fi­cials an­nounced they’d built a tem­po­rary, 500-per­son ca­pac­ity tent fa­cil­ity in the back park­ing lot of the Bor­der Patrol’s Yuma head­quar­ters. The agency spent just un­der $15 mil­lion for the setup and ser­vices for four months, in­clud­ing meals, laun­dry and se­cu­rity.

But the num­ber of ar­rivals there has fallen sharply, and of­fi­cials are eval­u­at­ing whether to keep the fa­cil­ity run­ning af­ter the four­month con­tract ex­pires next month.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion has de­pended on Mex­ico for its “Re­main in Mex­ico” pro­gram, which sends asy­lum­seek­ers back to Mex­ico to wait for U.S. court hear­ings.

Mor­gan on Mon­day said the U.S. has re­turned 42,000 asy­lum-seek­ers since the pro­gram be­gan ear­lier this year but didn’t con­firm re­ports that many had been kid­napped , robbed or fallen vic­tim to ex­tor­tion in Mex­ico. Homi­cides in Mex­ico have soared to nearly 35,000 last year, an in­crease from the peak of the 2011 car­tel vi­o­lence that left 27,000 dead.

Mor­gan said the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion can­not rely on Mex­ico and Cen­tral Amer­i­can gov­ern­ments to address what he called a “cri­sis.” He urged Congress to act on the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s agenda, which in­cludes curb­ing or elim­i­nat­ing pro­tec­tions for asy­lum-seeking fam­i­lies and chil­dren. The U.S. also has been push­ing Gu­atemala and other coun­tries to ac­cept asy­lum-seek­ers head­ing to the U.S.

The an­nounce­ment Mon­day came as a fed­eral judge in Cal­i­for­nia on Mon­day re­in­stated a na­tion­wide halt on the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s plan to pre­vent most mi­grants from seeking asy­lum at the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der. That pol­icy banned most im­mi­grants who pass through an­other coun­try be­fore reach­ing the United States from seeking asy­lum. It re­versed decades of U.S. pol­icy in what Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials said was an at­tempt to close the gap be­tween an ini­tial asy­lum screen­ing that most peo­ple pass and a fi­nal de­ci­sion on asy­lum that most peo­ple do not win.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

ACT­ING COM­MIS­SIONER OF CUS­TOMS AND BOR­DER PRO­TEC­TION Mark Mor­gan speaks at the White House in Wash­ing­ton on Mon­day.

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