Immigration arrests at border plunge

Immigration arrests at border plunge
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The number of people caught illegally crossing into the United States from Mexico dramatically plunged last month, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.

In written testimony submitted to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Homeland Security Secretary John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE said that fewer than 12,500 people were arrested trying to enter the U.S. in March — down 70 percent from the more than 43,000 people caught in February.

Apprehensions had already plummeted 40 percent in February compared to January, a reversal of historical trends that saw border crossings rise progressively over the first quarter of each year.
 

The number marks the fewest illegal immigration detentions at the southern border in at least 17 years.

The Department of Homeland Security is expected to release official numbers Wednesday.
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In the testimony, Kelly says that President TrumpDonald John TrumpHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Celebrating 'Hispanic Heritage Month' in the Age of Trump Let's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy MORE's tough immigration policies and promises to ramp up border security have ultimately driven down the number of people trying to enter the country. 

Former Acting Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner David Aguilar told the Senate Homeland Security Committee Tuesday the dip in apprehensions from March 2016 to March 2017 had been a whopping 67 percent.

  
The number of apprehensions is generally used as the most reliable measure to calculate border crossing attempts.

As a presidential candidate, Trump campaigned on strengthening U.S. immigration enforcement and increasing deportations of undocumented immigrants. His young administration has already stepped up arrests of immigrants already living in the U.S. illegally, and he has authorized the construction of a massive wall along the southern border — a key campaign promise. 

The administration's first request for proposal period for contractors to bid on border wall construction closes at midnight Wednesday.
 
Still, opponents of the administration's immigration and border measures decried its policies in spite of the drop in apprehensions.
 
"They don't need a wall no matter what," said Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
 
But she added the administration's tough stance on immigrants could be the cause for the decrease in illegal border crossings.
 
"Do I think the administration has created such panic, fear and alarm that people are unwilling to reunite with their families or think twice about that they're going to be immediately detained or mothers would be separated from their children?" she said. "I'm a mother, I would think twice about that."
 
But Lujan Grisham also said Democrats would take the administration's number with a grain of salt.
 
"It's hard to know what is going on. We have one data set [February apprehension numbers] and maybe another [March apprehension numbers] are insufficient, particularly when we have questions about how that's reported to us, not about how they collect data -- we have no reason to believe that's shifting," she said.