The number of unaccompanied children apprehended along the U.S.-Mexico border plummeted in July by more than half the previous month, the Department of Homeland Security said Thursday.
Federal border patrol agents apprehended 5,508 unaccompanied children along the border in July, the department said, the lowest number since February. They also apprehended 7,410 adults with children, which marked a decrease from the previous two months. Both numbers signified a cut of at least 48% from the highs of July, when 10,628 unaccompanied children and 16,330 adults with children were apprehended.
“While the decrease in apprehensions in July is good news and reflects a positive trend that we hope continues, the current numbers are still higher than the number of apprehensions for children and adults with children during past years,” DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement.
“We continue to have much work to do to address this issue and our message continues to be clear — ‘our border is not open to illegal migration.’ Unless you qualify for some form of humanitarian relief, we will send you back consistent with our laws and values.”
Migration from Central America traditionally declines in the hot months of the summer. But the sharp decrease gave administration officials hope that the administration’s message of enforcement aimed at preventing the migrants from attempting to make the trip across the border was working.
The Obama administration and congressional Republicans have been fighting over how to respond to the crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border, where tens of thousands of migrants — many of them unaccompanied children — have flooded across this year.
Before it left for a month-long recess last week, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a $US694 million border-security plan in tandem with legislation that would effectively end President Barack Obama’s program to shield young undocumented immigrants from deportations. The Republican plan was rejected by the White House, which has asked for $US3.7 billion in emergency funding for the crisis.
Johnson said that because Congress failed to act before recess, he would move to shift $US405 million in department funding away from other homeland-security missions to deal with the border crisis.
“It is also forcing us to dial back some of the actions we intended to take to deal with the Rio Grande Valley. Given Congress’ failure to act, the Department is left with no good choices,” Johnson said.
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