Homeland Security Anticipates Sharp Drop in Border Crossings

Floodlights from the U.S, illuminate multiple border walls on Jan. 7, 2019, seen from Tijuana, Mexico. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

WASHINGTON (CN) – Crediting in part a recent cooperation agreement with Mexico, the Trump administration projects crossings of the U.S. southern border dropped by as much as 25% in June.

Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said at a press conference Friday the expected decrease is due in part to a handshake deal between Mexico and the United States under which Mexico agreed to ramp up its immigration enforcement efforts and hold people seeking asylum in the United States on the Mexican side of the border while their claims are processed.

McAleenan said there has been a “substantial increase” in Mexican immigration enforcement, specifically in its efforts to break up criminal smuggling networks. He also said the administration is looking at adding more locations where people seeking asylum can be held while their applications are processed.

“These initiatives are making an impact and we are now anticipating a significant reduction in border crossing numbers for June – up to 25% – when compared to the record level in May,” McAleenan said at the press conference.

The expected decrease comes after a record-setting May when federal authorities stopped more than 144,000 people attempting to cross the southwest border, according to Customs and Border Protection statistics.

McAleenan’s announcement also comes the day after the House passed a $4.6 billion spending package to help federal authorities better care for people in custody at the border. McAleenan credited Congress for passing the emergency aid package at the administration’s request, but at the same time repeated a call for changes to U.S. immigration laws.

He also criticized lawmakers for not heeding the administration’s warnings about the overwhelmed facilities on the border earlier.

“This situation should not be acceptable to any of us,” McAleenan said. “It should galvanize action and real debate based on what is actually happening on the border and why. And yet here in Washington, we have collectively failed to act to address the drivers of the crisis.”

Congress passed the supplemental spending package after increased focus on the squalid conditions of some facilities that hold migrants at the southern border.

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