Apprehensions of people at the border fell sharply in June, in keeping with seasonal patterns over the past five years, amid the Trump administration's ongoing "zero tolerance" crackdown.
In June, U.S. authorities apprehended 34,114 people crossing the border illegally, a 15.4 percent decrease from the 40,338 apprehended in May, according to numbers released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Thursday.
The sum of apprehensions and inadmissibles — people turned away at ports of entry — decreased to 42,565 in June, an 18 percent drop from May's 51,905. That number is used as a guideline to measure illegal border crossing attempts.
Migration numbers at the southwest border tend to grow in the spring and then drop in June, as hot weather makes the crossing more dangerous.
The 2018 May-June drop is almost identical to a 17.5 percent drop in June 2016.
But numbers had dropped sharply in 2017, the first year of the Trump administration, breaking recent seasonal patterns.
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The Department of Justice earlier this year enacted a zero tolerance policy on illegal border crossings, which administration officials originally touted as a deterrent for future illegal immigration.
Under that policy, more than 2,000 children were separated from their parents, leading to global and bipartisan backlash.
Administration officials have blamed the separations on Congress, accusing lawmakers of failing to pass significant immigration reform.
“DHS will continue to enforce the rule of law and uphold our nation’s immigration laws as passed by Congress. As we have said before, the journey north is dangerous and puts individuals in the hands of smugglers and traffickers. We continue to call on Congress to address the crisis at the border by closing legal loopholes that drive illegal immigration,” Tyler Houlton, a spokesman for Nielsen, in a statement.
Last month, Nielsen said it was "offensive" to suggest the separations are intentional, saying they are essentially an inevitable byproduct of laws passed by Congress, even though the shift came earlier this year and Trump later signed an executive order ending his own policy.
DHS authorities touted the zero tolerance policy as part of the June downturn.
"Following the implementation of the Administration’s zero-tolerance policy, the June 2018 Southwest Border Migration numbers declined by 18 percent when compared to the previous month," Houlton said.
Updated at 2:47 p.m.