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DHS Says Migrant Crossings At Southwest Border Dropped 28% From May To June

Jul 9, 2019
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

For the first time this year, the number of migrants taken into custody after crossing the southwest border has dropped. In some ways, this was expected. Migrant flows typically slow down in the hotter summer months. But the Trump administration also credits Mexico with doing more to secure its borders and stop migrants from crossing into the U.S. in June. NPR's John Burnett covers immigration and joins us from Austin, Texas. Hi, John.

JOHN BURNETT, BYLINE: Hi, Ari.

SHAPIRO: So what are these numbers? How many migrants crossed in June?

BURNETT: Well, Homeland Security sent out a release this afternoon that they have apprehended a little over 104,000. That compares to 144,000 - a bit over that - in May. So that's a 28% drop. They had told us there was going to be a sharp drop, and sure enough there was. This - across the board, this was in unaccompanied minors. These were family units, single adults, most of them from the Northern Triangle, from, you know, Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, most of them seeking asylum in this country. So you know, the numbers are definitely measurable.

SHAPIRO: There is typically a seasonal drop this time of year, as we mentioned. What other factors might be at play here?

BURNETT: Well, clearly this agreement that Washington had with the new president of Mexico that they would dispatch new National Guard down to their southern border with Guatemala and apprehend migrants who were coming freely across the Suchiate River and were also - we had reporting this week and last week about the National Guard who were at Mexico's northern border right across - in, say, Ciudad Juarez across from El Paso, stopping migrants from coming across.

There's also the Remain in Mexico program where the U.S. is getting asylum-seekers and saying, OK, you can apply for asylum, but you have to wait in Mexico. They're now sending thousands back into Mexico, and they just recently announced that they'll be sending them into Nuevo Laredo across from Laredo, Texas, very soon. And as you mentioned, the weather, the hot is really a big deal, too.

SHAPIRO: In another part of the program, we're going to hear from somebody - a reporter who is down there at Mexico's southern border with Guatemala. But does all of this mean the Trump administration can claim credit for this reduction in migrant crossings?

BURNETT: Well, Ari, I mean, I think they can claim that there has been an impact, but there's still a crisis situation. And this statement from DHS - they're not celebrating. They said the June apprehension numbers are still higher than last year's when we were already in a crisis. We're past the breaking point, in a full-blown emergency; this situation should not be acceptable to any of us. So I mean, we're still hearing that there's more than a thousand people a day that are being apprehended just in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's John Burnett speaking with us from Austin, Texas. Thanks a lot.

BURNETT: You bet. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.