EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Migrant apprehensions are down across the Southern border, and a top government official attributes that to Mexican cooperation.
At the current rate, apprehensions in June will be down 25% compared to the previous month, a huge drop that cannot be attributed to normal summer downward trends, acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said on Friday.
Mexico on June 7 agreed to crackdown on migration from Central America to the United States in order to avoid tariffs on exports, which the Trump administration threatened to impose.
“I think these three weeks have demonstrated that (Mexican immigration-control actions) are already having an effect. That 25% decrease in June is more than we’ve seen before,” McAleenan said in a press conference from Washington broadcast on YouTube.
“We’re not really tracking a seasonal pattern. It’s more about the pull factors than traditional weather or agricultural seasonal work. … I think we’re going to know by mid-July and certainly by the end of July if these efforts are sustained and having a significant impact.”
The Border Patrol in May detained 144,000, the highest total since 2006. Border Patrol officials in El Paso said they won’t release June apprehension numbers for the sector until Monday and were reluctant to discuss partial numbers for June.
However, Mexican officials in Juarez have been telling KTSM for the past two weeks that a lot fewer migrants are arriving to the city since Mexico deployed soldiers with the National Guard to the border with Guatemala. Whereas in May up to 240 Cubans, Central Americans and others were reporting to the Migrant Assistance Center in Downtown Juarez every day, between 30 and 40 are coming now to register for asylum petitions at the Paso del Norte Bridge.
$4.6 billion fund ‘will alleviate conditions’ at detention facilities
On Thursday, the House of Representativers voted in favor of a $4.6 billion funding package to alleviate the migrant care crisis on the border, which stems from a surge in migration from Central America since last October.
McAleenan said the funding, coupled with increased enforcement cooperation from Mexico — and soon possibly from Guatemala and Honduras — will have a positive impact in the care of adult migrants and children in U.S. detention facilities.
“I think we are going to see continued reduction in the numbers (of new migrants), which will alleviate some of the capacity constraints that we’ve had. At the same time, new facilities will come online and that should present a better situation regarding the arriving migrants and also help in addressing the criminals that are profiting” from unauthorized migration, McAleenan said.
The acting Secretary said he’s been traveling to Guatemala to persuade officials there to enforce their own immigration laws.
“We need to continue to work with Mexico and Central America. … Sharing intelligence with Mexican authorities and the new National Guard and to create the capacity in Guatemala and Honduras to address these (human-trafficking) networks where they’re starting,” McAleenan said.
He shared that Guatemala, for instance, by law requires people entering its territory to show a passport. “They have been crossing without a passport for a long time,” he said, referring to adults from other countries as well as unaccompanied minors.
He also expressed concern about children from Guatemala and Honduras “being taken by adults who are not their relatives, trafficked, smuggled, rented out.”
He said Guatemala is being receptive to adopting U.S. interviewing techniques of migrants, as well as DNA tests on minors to “identify fraudulent claims.”