Migrant apprehensions down in August, but still higher than last year

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EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Illegal immigration arrests slowed down in the El Paso Sector for a third consecutive month, mirroring a national trend. The numbers, however, remain high compared to last year, data released this week by U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows.

Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan (left) speaks to reporters during a tour of the ‘soft-sided’ migrant processing facility in Tornillo, Texas. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan (left) accompanies him. (photo by Julian Resendiz)

A total of 8,077 migrants were detained in El Paso in August, compared to 11,597 in August of 2018, a drop of about 30 percent, CBP figures show.

Nationwide, 64,006 foreigners were apprehended in August, compared to the 82,055 detained in July and the 144,255 secured at the height of the migrant surge in May, CBP officials said.

The numbers have been dropping dramatically since the Trump administration persuaded Mexico to stop the migrant caravans from Central America that had been making their way north since October. Mexico deployed its new National Guard on June, after the Trump administration gave that country a deadline to act or face escalating tariffs of 5 percent on all of its exports to the United States.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, CBP Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan said the administration has been effective in confronting the migrant surge, but urged lawmakers to tighten asylum laws. The surge that began last October has primarily consisted of Central American migrants who came to seek asylum.

“Under President Trump’s leadership, we’ve been able to utilize a number of tools to help begin to mitigate, but not end, the national security and humanitarian crisis at the southern border,” Morgan told reporters “The continued drop in enforcement actions is encouraging, but make no mistake, we’re still in a crisis and more must be done. Until Congress makes targeted changes to immigration laws, we will continue to see stark challenges.”

Immigration advocates have harshly criticized the MPP program, alleging that it exposes Central Americans and others to crime in Mexican border cities and it’s a tool the Administration uses to “wear down” asylum seekers.

Morgan also addressed criticism that apprehensions have dropped due to the weather ⁠— fewer migrants traditionally travel during the hot summer months. Enforcement actions in August have been higher than July for six of the past eight years, so this year’s decrease from July to August is not just a traditional seasonal decrease, he said. In Fiscal Year 2018, August apprehensions were 16% higher than July.

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