The number of migrants trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border has continued to decline in recent weeks as immigration officials attempt to navigate their way out of the border crisis that has challenged the Trump administration for most of the past year.
In a rare briefing from the White House, Acting U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan said Monday that federal agents stopped about 64,000 people at the southern border in the month of August. That’s down from more than 82,000 in July and a continued reduction from a peak of more than 130,000 apprehensions in May.
“The President has made it very clear that he is going to use every tool available to him and this administration to address this unprecedented crisis at the southern border,” Morgan said.
The CBP chief said the administration’s policy to force asylum applicants to remain in Mexico for the duration of their court cases had worked to discourage organized criminals from coordinating illegal crossings.
“They’re telling the cartels and this vulnerable population: the game has changed," Morgan proclaimed in the White House briefing room.
Morgan also pointed to action taken by the Mexican government to stem the northern flow of migrants traveling through the country after President Donald Trump threatened trade tariffs earlier in the summer.
“This is being done to greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States,” Trump said on Twitter at the time.
Throughout the summer months, the Mexican government has ramped up immigration enforcement, ordering 15,000 troops to the country’s northern border. But Morgan said he hopes crossings decline further -- monthly apprehensions in in the months leading up to the fall of 2017 were less than half of the numbers announced Monday.
The new announcement comes as the administration continues court battles to restrict immigration further. On Monday, a judge in California issued a nation-wide ban on the administration’s latest attempt to restrict asylum applicants traveling through Mexico. The policy had been previously permitted in New Mexico and Texas, but is now suspended until further judicial review.