By Adam Shaw
Published January 09, 2020
Law enforcement apprehended or turned away 40,620 migrants at the southern border in December, according to new numbers released by the Trump administration Thursday -- marking the seventh consecutive month of decline.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that it apprehended 32,858 and deemed 7,762 inadmissible. That number is slightly down from November, where 42,651 were apprehended or deemed inadmissible.
In December, the vast majority of those apprehended were single adults (21,203), followed by family units (8,998) and unaccompanied minors (3,310). Enforcement actions to date this fiscal year are 33 percent lower than last year.
Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan credited enforcement efforts at the border for bringing the latest decline, the seventh since the highs of May, where more than 144,000 were apprehended or turned away at the height of the border crisis.
“This seven month decline is a direct result of President Trump’s network of policy initiatives and our ability to effectively enforce the law, enhance our border security posture and properly care for those in custody,” Morgan said in a statement.
Since May, the Trump administration has introduced or amplified a series of measures both to deal with those migrant flows, as well as discourage those seeking to make the treacherous journey north through the Northern Triangle.
The cornerstone of that effort is the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) that sees migrants seeking asylum sent to Mexico to await their immigration proceedings. That, along with a series of international asylum agreements with countries like Guatemela and El Salvador, have largely ended the practice of “catch-and-release” whereby migrants were released into the interior while potentially years-long hearings were carried out.
“The importance of MPP can’t be stated enough, it is what’s allowed us to take control of the crisis that we saw in April and May. The idea is to make sure we process individuals in a timely manner but make sure they wait south of the border,” Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf told Fox News in November.
Officials have credited those accords for having helped the “pull factors” and for allowing the administration to not only stop migrants but also process their cases quickly.
Other measures to secure the border include the construction of a wall, which officials tout as a vital part of a broader border security operation to stop not just migrants, but also drug flowing into the country. It has so far built approximately 90 miles of a target of 450 miles by the end of 2020.
The numbers released Thursday show an increase in drug seizures, where CBP intercepted more than 93,000 pounds of drugs across the country, marking a five percent increase over November. According to CBP figures, seizures of fentanyl are up over 80 percent and heroin up by 27 percent.
Fox News' Griff Jenkins contributed to this report.