U.S. border agents arrested about eight percent fewer people in July than in June at the southern border with Mexico, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says, but the number of migrant families detained remained nearly constant.
Judge Denies Trump's Long-term Child Detention Request
On Wednesday, the DHS released its July immigration numbers showing that 31,303 people were arrested at the U.S. southern border with Mexico in July, compared to 34,095 in June. About 9,300 'family units' were arrested, remaining nearly the same as June's 9,400 families.
In late June, California judge Dana Sabraw ordered the president to end his administration's 'zero-tolerance' policy of separating families at the southern border, sending parents to jail and their children to be held in impromptu cages or foster care.
The Trump administration failed to meet the July 26 deadline Sabraw also set for the government to reunite more than 3,000 minors with their parents separated since last April. The judge's decision came shortly after the president himself decided to end family separations after an intense international outcry.
About 4,000 were children crossing into the United States when they were taken in by authorities in July, compared to about 5,100 children in June.
The Trump administration is touting the July numbers as proof that its strict policy to prosecute any undocumented adult trying to cross the Mexico-U.S. border is deterring people from trying to enter the country.
The majority of those taken in by border agents are Honduran, Guatemalan and Salvadorans escaping violence, poverty and corruption at home, and trying to seek asylum in the United States. The American Civil Liberties Union sued the government on Tuesday for denying 11 immigrants the right to apply for asylum.
"This decrease shows that when there are real consequences for breaking the law, the conduct of those considering crimes will change," DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton said in a statement on Wednesday.
These month-to-month arrest fluctuations at the border are typical, however. According to previous Border Patrol records, every year since 2006, except for 2017, July arrests have been lower than those in June.
Randy Capps, director of research for U.S. programs at the Migration Policy Institute, says border immigration this year is similar to levels during the Obama administration.
"There's no evidence that any policy change they've made one way or another has significantly affected the seasonal pattern of apprehensions over the last few months," Capps said.
It was revealed on Tuesday that the current administration is advancing its plan to make it more difficult for U.S. residents to obtain citizenship if they or their dependents have used any of a list of U.S. social programs, such as Obamacare or SNAP food assistance.