Acting DHS chief predicts up to 25 percent drop in border apprehensions in June

Acting DHS chief predicts up to 25 percent drop in border apprehensions in June
© Greg Nash

The Department of Homeland Security expects apprehensions of those crossing the southern border illegally to drop by up to 25 percent from May to June, acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said Friday.

McAleenan predicted the "significant" drop during a press conference on a new border aid package that passed through Congress a day earlier. He credited increased involvement from Mexico and the expansion of a policy that keeps asylum-seekers in Mexico while their claim is processed.

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"These initiatives are making an impact, and we are now anticipating a significant reduction for border crossing numbers for June, up to 25 percent, when compared to the record level in May," McAleenan said.

He thanked Mexico for making a "sincere effort" to address the flow of migrants coming toward the U.S. border.

The so-called Remain in Mexico policy, however, is being challenged in court and has been criticized by advocates who warn that it forces asylum-seekers to stay in dangerous locales while waiting to enter the U.S.

Apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border hit a 13-year high for the month of May, topping 130,000, according to newly released federal figures. An additional 11,391 people were turned away at the border in May, a slight uptick from 10,170 the previous month.

McAleenan acknowledged that the full extent of Mexico's cooperation won't be known for several more weeks.

The country announced it would deploy additional troops to its own southern border after President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump watching 'very closely' as Portland braces for dueling protests WaPo calls Trump admin 'another threat' to endangered species Are Democrats turning Trump-like? MORE threatened to impose tariffs on all Mexican goods.

McAleenan's comments came a day after the Democratic caucus was split over the House passage of a bipartisan Senate bill providing $4.5 billion in resources for agencies responding to the influx of migrants.

Some factions of Democrats were frustrated with House leadership after it was unable to negotiate amendments to the Senate bill that would have included stricter standards for care of young migrants.

The issue was given new urgency when a photo went viral this week of a man and his daughter who had drowned while trying to cross the Rio Grande. McAleenan called the image tragic and devastating and urged Congress to pass reforms to asylum and immigration laws.