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US-Mexico border apprehensions hit 17-year lows

The wall along the southern border of the United States where it meets Mexico. Photo: CNN Wire

WASHINGTON — Apprehensions at the US-Mexico border reached historic lows in April, continuing a downward slide in the first few months of the Trump administration.

The number of people stopped from illegally crossing the Southern border was down roughly 9% in April, according to the new data released Tuesday by US Customs and Border Protection.

The data that continues to showing fewer people apprehended at the Southern border, generally indicative of trends in crossings writ large, has been interpreted as a sign that President Donald Trump’s rhetoric and aggressive push to enforce immigration laws is having an effect — deterring would-be migrants from making a journey north to try to sneak into the US.

In April, there were 11,129 total apprehensions at the Southwest border. That is the lowest in 17 years of available CBP data, the third straight month that apprehensions hit historic lows. Prior to the Trump administration, the lowest monthly total going back to 2000 was in December 2011, when 18,983 apprehensions were recorded at the southern border.

Apprehensions were down 62% from the previous April, though a variety of factors including weather and economics can cause fluctuations in numbers.

The drops in February and March defied 17 years of CBP trends — apprehensions had not decreased in those two months of the year since 2000. The month of April, on the other hand, has seen different trends over the years, sometimes increasing and sometimes dropping.

The 9% drop in apprehensions from March to April is slightly down from the double-digit percentage drops seen in the first three months. That could indicate numbers are approaching low points, and summer months also typically bring increases in apprehensions, which are generally used as a barometer of ebbs and flows in border crossings generally.

Department of Homeland Security spokesman David Lapan told reporters Tuesday that the administration believes its immigration policies and public statements have had a deterrent effect, saying would-be immigrants in Central America “are waiting and watching what happens rather than taking the journey north.”