January border apprehensions down 11 percent from December

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Border Patrol apprehensions in the southwest dipped for the eighth straight month in January, led by a decrease in apprehensions of citizens of countries other than Mexico.

U.S. authorities apprehended 29,200 people at the border in January, an 11 percent decrease from December, according to preliminary Customs and Border Protection (CBP) numbers obtained by The Hill.

The numbers are significant because they also show a majority of those apprehended were Mexican nationals rather than citizens of third countries — accounted for as “other than Mexican” or OTM.

According to the preliminary numbers, the Border Patrol apprehended 13,084 OTMs at the southwest border in January, a 28.4 percent decrease from the 18,288 OTMs apprehended in December.

The number of Mexicans apprehended increased 10.6 percent, to 16,116 in January from 14,570 in December.

Apprehensions are conducted on would-be undocumented immigrants who are accused of crossing illegally between ports of entry and are caught by the Border Patrol.

CBP separately measures “inadmissibles” or people turned away at ports of entry; that statistic was not included in the preliminary numbers obtained by The Hill.

The demographic shift toward Mexicans and away from OTMs, particularly Central Americans, shows the effectiveness of Trump administration policies to prevent Central American migrants from attempting the trek through Mexico and into the United States.

The Trump administration has focused its southwest border policy on enlisting Mexican and Central American authorities to slow, delay and in certain cases apprehend migrants moving north.

Those policies have been criticized for often resulting in human rights violations or subpar conditions for migrants.

Still, the reduction in Central American migrant traffic marks a first since fiscal year 2014, the first year when OTM apprehensions outnumbered Mexican nationals at the southwest border.

—Updated Tuesday at 10:38 a.m. John Bowden contributed.
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