The number of people arrested for illegally crossing into the U.S. from Mexico dropped for the third month in a row in August, down 62% from the May peak of 132,870 apprehensions, according to government documents reviewed by the Washington Examiner.
A total of 50,693 people were taken into custody at the southwest border during August, the lowest tally since January, when the number rose drastically as tens of thousands of families began arriving each month. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the parent agency to Border Patrol, is expected to announce the August numbers late this week or early next week.
The apprehensions include asylum-seeking families who surrendered to agents as well as others who tried to evade capture but were arrested in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. The number is now more on trend with the average number of people brought in per month over the past five years.
Border Patrol agents use apprehension rates as an indicator of how many people are trying to illegally enter the country. Historically, arrests usually dip slightly during summer months due to extreme heat in the region and the danger it presents to those traveling by foot through Mexico, according to CBP data. The drop this summer far exceeds the norm.
At the height of the border crisis in May, more than 132,000 people were taken into custody. By the end of May, President Trump — frustrated by the lack of legislative action in the U.S. to address the crisis — followed through on a threat to impose tariffs on Mexican imports if the country did not take action to deter people passing through from Central America on the way to the U.S. southern border.
The Mexican government deployed its National Guard to the U.S. border to prevent people from crossing in well-traveled spots. It also sent the Guard and federal police to its southern border with Guatemala to prevent people from entering into Mexico. Other federal law enforcement and military stood up checkpoints along highways in Central Mexico to stop buses of people traveling north. Those without legal documents are arrested and deported.
A senior administration official said the massive drop in U.S. arrests was due to “the work done by the Mexicans.”
As of one month into the deal with Mexico, arrests on the southwest border in June had dropped to 94,908. They declined again in July to 71,999 and then in August to 50,693.
As of Aug. 31, Border Patrol had apprehended 811,016 people at the southwest border in the first 11 months of fiscal 2019.
Approximately 660,000 people, or 81%, were from countries other than Mexico.
More than 72,000 of the 811,000 apprehensions were of children under the age of 18 who arrived without an adult. Only 3,726 children showed up at the border in August, the lowest figure in a month over the past 11 months.
An additional 4,017 immigrants were arrested along the Canadian border between October and August. Along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, 3,328 illegal entry arrests were reported in that same time frame.
Border arrests do not include those who tried to pass through a port of entry but were denied admittance. Since last October, the number of people turned away at ports has remained consistent at between 9,000 and 11,500 due to CBP’s metering the number allowed to present themselves for consideration. In addition, tens of thousands have been returned to Mexico under the Migration Protection Protocols to wait south of the border for a U.S. immigration judge to hear their asylum claim.
Overall, illegal crossings have climbed since the beginning of the Trump administration. In March 2017, they dropped to a 17-year low when only 12,500 people were apprehended. That number began climbing in mid-2017 from 20,000 to 30,000 arrests each month. It surpassed an average of 40,000 arrests per month by the spring of 2018 and continued climbing to around 50,000 each month last fall. In February, arrests spiked to 66,000 before dramatically jumping to 99,000 in April before reaching May’s 13-year high.