Number of border crossings continues to decline

Number of border crossings continues to decline

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The Trump administration's strategy to stem the flow of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border after reaching a peak in mid-2019 has delivered results in the past few months.

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The number of people crossing the southern border has fallen for the seventh month in a row since it reached a peak in May with 132,887 crossings. In December, Border Patrol officials apprehended or turned away 40,620 migrants, down from 33,510 in November. This was the first time that the number of apprehensions has declined from November to December since 2012.

7,762 people have been denied entry in December in a 15% drop compared to the 9,140 people deemed inadmissible in November.

The downward trend is a result of the Trump administration's crackdown on illegal immigration, most notably the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as "Remain in Mexico" policy. It allows the U.S. to send asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for their court hearings. According to Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, only 117 people who have been returned to Mexico to wait for their asylum hearings have been granted entry in the U.S. and over 15,000 have had their asylum requests denied out of the 50,000 Central American asylum seekers that have been sent there.

Mexico stepped up enforcement of immigration laws, with the country deploying its recently formed Mexican National Guard after President Trump warned the country would face crippling tariffs if they didn't help the U.S. with the surge of migrants.

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The U.S. also signed bilateral migration agreements with GuatemalaEl Salvador, requiring migrants headed to the U.S. to apply for protection in those countries first. If they don't, the U.S. will automatically send them back to those countries. The Trump administration has been working out the details of a similar deal with Honduras, which has agreed to take migrants from Mexico, Brazil, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

The Trump administration also planned to send Mexican asylum seekers to Guatemala but that plan is currently on hold because of mounting criticism. "It is more than clear that within the agreement only Salvadorans and Hondurans were to be sent. The United States has talked about the possibility of discussing whether to include Mexican nationals, but that is something the incoming administration will have to discuss. It's totally false that we had negotiated that Mexicans be sent here... Those are rumors," said outgoing Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales last week.

Immigration activists are opposed to the Trump administration's approach, saying the president is sending migrants to places where violence and crime are rampant.

Worth noting: “The cross-border smuggling of illegal drugs continues to threaten communities throughout our nation. The volume of drugs seized is a sober reminder that we are in the midst of a national security crisis on the Southwest Border," CBP Deputy Commissioner Robert Perez warned in a statement.

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