UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY) — US border guards have arrested or arrested about one million undocumented immigrants on the southern border with Mexico in the past 12 months, a senior official said on Tuesday.
This came as part of US President Donald Trump’s tough efforts to stop illegal immigration, which has begun to show results in the past three months, which have seen a drop in border arrests.
Acting Director of Customs and Border Protection Mark Morgan said the number of migrants arrested at the border fell to about 52,000 in September, the last month of the fiscal year, compared with more than 144,000 in May, the lowest in a year.
Most of the Central American immigrants fleeing poverty and violence came in large groups and families to the United States through Mexico and turned themselves in to US authorities to seek asylum.
For most immigrants, this means waiting for their papers to expire and then freeing them to await a court hearing on their asylum claim, but they usually disappear at home in the hope of stability.
The Trump administration has stepped up efforts to stop migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador by asking Mexico to block their transit to US territory and asking them to apply for asylum in their first country of entry, which means either Guatemala or Mexico.
Morgan said in a statement at the White House that the Customs and Border Protection Agency “continues to cooperate with our external partners, especially Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to address it as a regional crisis.”
The administration has ordered the expulsion and return of any asylum-seekers to Mexico, and defies a court order prohibiting this order.
In addition to limiting immigrants’ ability to seek asylum, the White House continued to build a wall along the 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) border and diverted funds from the Pentagon to build the wall after Congress refused to provide funding.
Morgan said 71 miles of the new wall had been built and 450 were expected to be completed by the end of 2020.
“It’s a difficult process,” he said. “We have to own the land, which is difficult.”
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