Jun 7, 2018 - Politics & Policy

More kids crossed the border in May amidst family separation policies

There were 2,100 more unaccompanied minors caught illegally crossing the southern border in May than in April, according to Customs and Border Protection data.

Be smart: The number of family units crossing saw a small decrease, as the Trump administration has implemented policies to separate children from their parents when caught crossing illegally.

Data: U.S. Customs and Border Protection fiscal year 2018 and historical data; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios
Data: U.S. Customs and Border Protection fiscal year 2018 and historical data; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

Big picture: Despite numerous efforts led by the White House, Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice to slow the flow of undocumented immigrants crossing the border, the number of total immigrant arrests still broke 50,000.

DHS says that reversing immigration trends will take a long time, and it's too soon to tell the effects of recent policy changes. Spokesman Tyler Houlton said in a statement that "it will take a sustained effort and continuous commitment of resources over many months to disrupt cartels, smugglers, and nefarious actors.”

  • Lynden Melmed, partner at BAL and former USCIS chief counsel, said that with job openings exceeding unemployment, it will be "very difficult" for CBP "to show sustained progress with the resources they have today. All of the tools they are deploying are short term fixes and migrants can adapt their practices more quickly than a large federal agency.”

What to watch:

  • The number of immigrants legally presenting themselves at ports of entry (who claimed asylum or were turned away) fell by almost 9% from last month.
    • Why it matters: If the Trump administration‘s new family separation practices were meant to scare immigrants from crossing the border illegally and encourage them to go to legal ports, the numbers seem to show it's not working — at least, not yet.
The big picture is, the pressure to migrate is much stronger than whatever scary messages Trump thinks he's sending.
— Leon Rodriguez, former director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, told Axios.
  • The Dallas Morning News reported Wednesday that immigration advocates are accusing U.S. border guards of refusing asylum-seekers entry to the U.S. at a pedestrian bridge by the Rio Grande.
    • If reports of CBP stopping immigrants from reaching the ports are accurate, this could also contribute to the decreased number of migrants trying to enter legally through the ports.
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