Feb 11, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Illegal border crossings continue to fall as U.S. enforces asylum agreements

A Honduran migrant climbs on the U.S.-Mexico border fence near Tijuana in 2018. Photo: Guillermo Arias/AFP via Getty Images

The number of attempted illegal crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border fell for the eighth straight month in January to 36,679, Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Last year’s border crisis largely consisted of Central American families and children attempting to reach the U.S., but over the last few months, the Trump administration has begun implementing asylum agreements with those nations. That has allowed immigration officials to deport asylum seekers to Central American countries that are not their home.

  • January's illegal border crossing figure was 37% lower than the same month last year, but illegal border crossings by single Mexican adults are on the rise.
  • Last year, about 61% of attempted illegal border crossings were by people from Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador, Morgan said. 61% are now Mexican nationals.

The big picture: Morgan praised the Trump administration’s newly implemented asylum agreements, saying, "If we encounter you, if you're illegally in this country, you will not be allowed in the United States."

  • So far, 536 Honduran and Salvadoran asylum-seekers who reached the U.S. have been sent to Guatemala, according to Guatemalan data — and more than 75% have been women and children.
  • Morgan said they hope to begin implementing a similar agreement with Honduras in the next week.
Go deeper