The number of people arrested for illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border declined for the second consecutive month in July, the Wall Street Journal reports. Border Patrol agents arrested 31,303 southern border crossers last month, an 8 percent decline from June. July was the first full month after the Trump administration halted its policy to separate families and prosecute parents for crossing the border illegally. About 9,258 immigrants traveling as families were arrested in July, compared with about 9,400 in June. Most are expected to ask for asylum in the U.S. “This decrease shows that when there are real consequences for breaking the law, the conduct of those considering crimes will change,” said Tyler Houlton of the Department of Homeland Security.
The number of families and unaccompanied children caught crossing the border illegally had been on the rise in recent months, and the overall volume of illegal border crossers has been described as a crisis by Trump administration officials. Fewer than 4,000 unaccompanied children were arrested at the border in July, a decline of more than 1,000 compared with June. The administration’s hard-line immigration policies have been widely criticized. Immigration advocates have said would-be asylum seekers are fearful of how they will be treated in the U.S. but continue to enter amid widespread violence in their home countries. The number of immigrant families who presented themselves at legal U.S. border crossings rose slightly from June to July, when 3,027 people asked to come into the U.S. Trump administration officials have encouraged families and other immigrants seeking asylum to present themselves at such border crossings.