Apprehensions of people trying to cross the southwest border dropped last month to the lowest monthly total in at least five years, reports the Wall Street Journal. The Department of Homeland Security credited President Trump’s tougher immigration enforcement policies. Many such policies have yet to be implemented, but Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly suggested they already are having a deterrent effect on would-be illegal migrants. The data show 23,589 people were apprehended on the southwest border in February, down from 42,504 in January. In recent years, the number of apprehensions has ticked up between January and February. Numbers fluctuate, and it will take more data to know if the lower numbers represent a real trend.
In October, the total number of apprehensions reached nearly 67,000, matching numbers from summer 2014, when a flood of Central American children and families arrived, fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries. The total has been falling each month since then, but the steepest drop came last month. “This trend is encouraging because it means many fewer people are putting themselves and their families at risk of exploitation, assault and injury by human traffickers and the physical dangers of the treacherous journey north,” Kelly said.