Illegal border crossings in the Rio Grande Valley have fallen dramatically, reaching a near 17 year low. In March of this year, Border Patrol Agents detained 4,143 individuals attempting to cross the river to reach the United States compared to 15,579 individuals being caught attempting to crossing in January. President Donald Trump’s stance on immigration is said to be responsible.
As reported by the Daily Mail, the Rio Grande is not an isolated incident. Across the entire Southwest border, only 12,193 individuals were detained in March. That total is 50,000 fewer than were arrested in the same area last October.
Only 336 individuals were arrested trying to cross the border in March near Yuma, Arizona, while 1,155 were detained in January. Similarly, 976 arrests were made in El Paso, Texas in March whereas nearly 2,800 individuals were arrested in January.
The current numbers are a distinct reversal of the prior five-year trend. The number of individuals turned away or detained at the border has risen since 2012, with the last September showing approximately 56,000 individuals arrested or turned away.
October, November, and December saw some of the highest numbers of border crossing attempts in recent history due to those wishing to make the journey prior to Trump taking office.
US Customs and Border Protection credits the decline to the Trump administration’s focus on enforcing immigration laws that have been on the books for some time. The approach aims to remove anyone deemed ineligible for entry, making many hesitant to attempt the crossing.
As reported by The Los Angeles Times, supervisory Border Patrol Agent Marlene Castro said, “Are you going to risk a 1,000-mile journey and pay $8,000 to be smuggled if you’re not sure you’ll get to stay? I wouldn’t.”
When speaking about the Rio Grande crossings, Castro stated “This area used to be really hot,” continuing, “You couldn’t move. Every time you turned a corner, you’d run into group after group,” referring to illegal immigrants attempting to enter the US.
The Trump administration was quick to take credit for the decline. As reported by Fox News, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on the ‘The O’Reilly Factor’ on Thursday that attempts to enter the country illegally “are down 60 percent due to President Trump’s strong leadership.”
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly testified before a Senate committee on Wednesday that the decline was “no accident” and that the progress was due to the “support of our leadership in the White House.”
Castro confirmed that there had been no changes in how Border Patrol Agents were managing the area. Additionally, no new laws have been enacted, and any progress on the proposed expanded border wall is likely years away.