Border apprehensions in October declined for a fifth consecutive month, down to 45,000 from a spike of 144,000 in May, according to new figures released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, NPR reports. Authorities also report a significant demographic shift among those apprehended, with most people either attempting to cross the southwest border illegally or presenting themselves at a port of entry having come from Mexico rather than the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
Mark Morgan, acting CBP commissioner, credited the decline to Trump administration initiatives to deter border-crossers, especially one dubbed Migrant Protection Protocols (or MPP), which requires asylum-seekers to go back to Mexico to await their court hearings in the U.S. The program is also known as Remain in Mexico. But BuzzFeed News reports that a team of senior Department of Homeland Security officials who examined the controversial program found that U.S. border officials have not only prevented immigrants from making a claim for protection at the border with asylum officers but appeared to have pressured the officers to deny them entry into the U.S., according to a draft government report recommending significant and wide-ranging improvements to the program. “The big takeaway from it is that MPP is not working,” said a former DHS official. “This seems to align with every criticism you hear of MPP. Some of these recommendations are phrased mildly but suggest they found serious problems that need to be remedied.”