Border Apprehensions Continue To Decline As Smugglers Try New Tactics, CBP Says

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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Customs and Border Protection confirmed that apprehensions along the U.S.-Mexico border have fallen for the eighth straight month, a consequence the agency directly attributed to “successful” administration policies.

There were a total of 29,200 arrests at the U.S. southern border during the month of January, a senior CBP official confirmed in a conference call with reporters Monday. The apprehensions — along with the admissibles for that month — confirm the Daily Caller News Foundation’s earlier reporting of total border enforcement numbers for that month.

January’s numbers not only mark an 11% decline from the apprehensions in the previous month, but also mark a 77% decline from when border arrests reached their peak in May 2019 at 132,856 — the apex of the immigration crisis.

“January’s enforcement results show that the administration’s policies have been undeniably successful at stemming the flow of illegal migration and illicit drugs over the Southwest border,” the senior CBP official said.

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Asylum seekers wait for bottled water at an immigrant camp on Dec. 9, 2019 in Brownsville, Texas, across the river from the border town of Matamoros, Mexico. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Last month’s numbers do appear to demonstrate that the decline in border apprehensions are more than seasonal trends seen throughout the year. January’s 36,000 border enforcement actions, for example, are below the enforcement action numbers seen in January 2019, virtually the same for January 2018, and also below what was seen in January 2017, according to CBP data.

The administration has either launched numerous initiatives aimed at curbing the flow of mostly Central American migrants appearing at the border, such as the “Remain in Mexico” program, metering and asylum cooperative agreements with these countries.

However, CBP noted that these smugglers, dealing with the new constraints placed on their operations, are changing their tactics and bringing new demographics to the U.S border. The agency reported a rise in Mexican and extra-continental immigrants for last month.

“We are now encountering more people from Mexico. This time last fiscal year, 63% of CBP’s enforcement actions were applied to migrants from the Northern Triangle,” the senior official said.

“And now that number has changed, and we’re encountering 53% from Mexico. Also, we are encountering more people from extra-continental areas of the globe,” the senior official said, speaking of migrants outside of North America.

Apprehensions of Brazilian nationals, in particular, reached an all-time high of nearly 20,000 in fiscal year 2019. The agency is seeing this same trend this fiscal year.

“What we’re finding is that these extra-continental migrants are being lured into the widening net to catch by human smuggling operations that are part of the transnational criminal organizations’ line of business. They profit from drug smuggling, of course, but they now go beyond that into human smuggling and into our nation’s interior,” the official continued.

“So what we do at the border really affects every community across the nation,” the official added. (RELATED: Attorney General William Barr Vows Lawsuits And ‘Significant Escalation’ Against Sanctuary Jurisdictions)

Beyond the apprehensions of people, CBP also broke down how many narcotics were nabbed last month. The agency seized a total of 53,736 pounds of cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, marijuana and meth in January. Officials took 50,000 pounds of this from the southern border alone.

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