DHS acting chief predicts up to 25 percent drop in border crossings after new Mexico agreement

The acting head of the Department of Homeland Security on Friday said that he expects the number of migrants apprehended at the border will be lower by up to 25 percent in June than in previous months after Mexico increased its enforcement measures.

“It’s become clear that over the past three weeks since the administration reached a new agreement with Mexico that we’ve seen a substantial increase in the number of interdictions on the Mexican southern border, and a sincere effort to address the transportation networks coming through Mexico,” Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan told reporters.

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The U.S. and Mexico reached agreement this month on a deal that sees Mexico take “unprecedented steps to increase enforcement to curb irregular migration” in exchange for the U.S. dropping proposed sanctions on Mexican imports.

McAleenan said the U.S. was looking to see Mexico increase its deployment of National Guard members to the border, and for the expansion of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) -- which allow for illegal immigrants to be returned to Mexico while their immigration proceedings are held.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan speaks during a news conference in Washington, Friday, June 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan speaks during a news conference in Washington, Friday, June 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

"These initiatives are making an impact and we are now anticipating a significant reduction in border crossing numbers from June, as much as 25 percent when compared to the record level in May,” he said.

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Customs and Border Protection said that it encountered more than 144,000 migrants at the border in May, a 30 percent increase from the prior month and double the influx recorded at the beginning of the year. NBC News reports that in 2018 there was a 17 percent decrease from May to June.

McAleenan also said the U.S. is working with Northern Triangle countries to deal with root causes of the migration crisis and increase efforts to tackle organized smuggling organizations in the region.

His remarks come a day after the House passed the Senate version of a $4.5 humanitarian aid bill. It passed after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi backed down from a push to include restrictions on immigration enforcement that could have scuttled the measure. Trump is expected to sign the bill early next week.

McAleenan thanked congressional leaders for getting the bill passed, and said that while it didn’t include everything DHS wanted in it -- specifically Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention beds for single adults -- it “substantially addresses” the request for funding.

He also took issue with media reports that children at detention centers were not being given vital supplies while in detention, leading to an outcry from lawmakers on Capitol Hill about alleged conditions at the centers. He said that while he has testified for months about concerns over the ability of DHS to handle the vast number of migrants crossing the border, those calls received little attention. But he said that some reports were "missing the story."

"Contrary to the reporting, children in CBP custody at the border are receiving access to key supplies, including toothbrushes, appropriate meals, blankets, showers as soon as they can be provided, and medical screening," McAleenan said.