After less then two months in office, the Trump administration can point to at least one statistic that may indicate the president is succeeding in his goal of stemming the tide immigration. From January to February, apprehensions at the Mexican border with the U.S. decreased by 40 percent.
Julian Aguilar, a reporter for the Texas Tribune says the number is noteworthy, and a drop in apprehensions at this time of year is unusual.
“According to the statistics, [the number of apprehensions fell] from about 31,600 to about 18,800. And…according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), they usually see an increase in traffic at the beginning of the year,” Aguilar says.
The true reason for the decrease in border stops isn’t certain, says Aguilar, especially since traveling from the interior of Mexico, or from Central America is a long process.
“When my colleague Jay Root and I were down in Central America last year for a project, we would talk to folks that would say it took them anywhere from two weeks to six weeks, depending on where they needed to stop, where they needed to get money,” he says.
“It hink folks were probably a bit apprehensive since November…since Trump won the election, so maybe folks had already…given the journey second thoughts even before he was sworn in,” Aguilar says.
Aguilar points out that from October of 2016 to February, the number of Central Americans entering the U.S. Was higher than it had been during the same period, the previous fiscal year.
“I think people have to be conscious of the fact that president Obama in 2015 put a lot of pressure on the Mexican government, so we also saw a sharp decline when you compare 2015 to 2014, And people blame the uptick in 2016 not [on] DHS’ efforts, but more the Mexican government falling on the wayside with respect to their enforcement.” Aguilar says.
Based on comments by Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly during a trip to Dallas, some observers fear the Trump administration intends to enact a policy to separate women and children who cross the border together.
Aguilar points out that the policy has not been made official, and that a number of rumors and unclear statements on a variety of topics have come from members of the administration, only to be walked back later. Several news organizations have reported the story, while others wait to see whether it will become official.
“Current policy provides that [women and children] are processed together, detained together and then released together. What the proposal would do is detain the mothers and process the children and let them go separately. And I think a lot of folks are shocked at this proposal. I think you have immigrant rights groups that say this is very very inhumane. But some other folks would say if this is the only way we can stop these people from…making this dangerous journey…then you have to take more serious measure, or even float the idea to see if it has any initial effect.” Aguilar says.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.