DHS touts drop in border crossings amid ‘zero tolerance’ push

The Department of Homeland Security said Thursday that border apprehensions dropped by 18 percent last month after the Trump administration implemented its “zero-tolerance policy” toward illegal immigrants crossing the border. 

"Following the implementation of the administration’s zero-tolerance policy, the June 2018 Southwest Border Migration numbers declined by 18 percent when compared to the previous month,” DHS press secretary Tyler Q. Houlton said in a statement. 

The statement reflects a renewed administration effort to defend the tough enforcement policy, amid the outcry over since-halted family separations that resulted from it. 

According to numbers released by DHS, 34,114 individuals were detained in June, compared to 40,338 in May and 38,243 in April.

“DHS will continue to enforce the rule of law and uphold our nation’s immigration laws as passed by Congress,” Houlton said. “As we have said before, the journey north is dangerous and puts individuals in the hands of smugglers and traffickers. We continue to call on Congress to address the crisis at the border by closing legal loopholes that drive illegal immigration.”

TRUMP: GET ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS 'OUT' OF AMERICA'S 'FRONT LAWN'

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has described the administration’s policy as “zero-tolerance, zero releases and 100 percent prosecution” for those who cross the border illegally.

But more than 2,300 minors were separated from their families at the border from May 5 through June 9, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

After an intense outcry over the separation of parents and children at the border, President Trump signed an executive order to allow children to stay with parents caught crossing the border illegally.

On Thursday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the department will comply with a federal court order to reunite illegal immigrant children who have been separated from their parents after being detained at the border.

Fox News’ Shira Bush, Jenny Buchholz, Adam Shaw and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Alex Pappas is a politics reporter at FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexPappas.