The head of the Department of Homeland Security reported that recorded illegal Mexican border crossings plummeted by almost 72 percent since December, to mark the lowest monthly figure in over 17 years, this March. The number of people caught crossing the border illegally fell to 12,000, last month.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said that the sharp decline in arrests is “no accident” and gave credit to Trump’s approach towards illegal immigration. He reported the figures in written testimony to a Senate committee ahead of an appearance on Wednesday.
The Washington Times also reported that former Border Patrol Chief David Aguilar, on Tuesday, told the Senate Homeland Security Committee that arrests declined 67 percent in March.
“This administration has said we’re going to address illegal immigration,” he told senators. “ICE has started working in the interior, unlike other times. So that message resonates.”
Several commentators credited President Donald Trump’s tough stance on immigration throughout the 2016 presidential campaign as the primary reason for the decline.
“Pat & Stu,” a radio show, discussed on Wednesday, that the decline in illegal border crossings could be temporary while Mexicans wait to see how US policies on immigration change under the new administration, before risking illegal entry. However, like many others, the hosts were quite pleased with the progress on curtailing the influx of illegal immigrants.
“The tough talk, I think, is a good short term thing here. And look, that’s better than what we’ve had; there’s no doubt about that. That goes back to not only the previous president but the one before that, and almost everybody else, really. I mean even if you go back to Reagan, this was his big problem issue for a lot of conservatives. So we’ll see what happens. We’ll see if the rhetoric matches up to the actions, which we have not seen yet,” Stu said.
While the Trump administration has not yet changed anything with regards to border patrolling, President Trump’s tough stance on immigration, including his plans to build a wall, and increased efforts to arrest illegal immigrants already living in the country are believed to have acted as deterrents.
However, it’s unclear if the decline in the number of illegal crossings will continue. The number of people caught trying to illegal cross the border into the US typically increases as the weather begins to warm, but arrests during the generally slower winter months were quite high than in previous years, so it is possible that many migrants rushed to the border before Trump took charge of the White House.