Illegal immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border tumbled in September, officials said Tuesday, saying the administration has solved the migration crisis by stopping Central Americans before they ever even reach the border.
The U.S. still posted the worst overall year in more than a decade, with more than 850,000 illegal immigrants nabbed entering the country without authorization in fiscal year 2019, which ended Sept. 30.
But the peak of more than 140,000 migrants nabbed in May dropped to about 52,000 in September, said Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
“This is an unprecedented achievement,” Mr. Morgan said.
The yardsticks are striking.
At one point CBP was detaining 5,000 persons a day; that’s now 1,700. And CBP had 19,000 people in custody at one point, in processing facilities built to hold somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000. The number is now less than 4,000, Mr. Morgan said.
He said the improvements came with little help from Congress, which approved money to help improve some detention conditions but has been unable to pass legislation to stem the flow of people.
Instead, it was the Trump administration that took steps, signing agreements with the three Central American countries most responsible for the flow of illegal immigrant families, and working with Mexico to try to prevent folks from reaching the U.S. border.
One major move was the administration’s Migration Protection Protocols, dubbed the “Remain in Mexico” program, which takes would-be asylum seekers who crossed through Mexico en route to the U.S. and sends them back across the border to wait while their cases are heard in the U.S.
Mr. Morgan said 51,000 migrants have been in the MPP since it began earlier this year, and President Trump brags about the thousands of troops he cajoled Mexico to deploy to its borders.
“The cooperation and partnership we have with Mexico right now is one for the history books,” Mr. Morgan said.
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