Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump has successfully built an immigration wall that has proven impenetrable for tens of thousands of migrants — it's just not the physical one he and others obsess about.

What's happening: The number of attempted border crossings is falling, and denial rates are climbing. The very nations most migrants flee from are now the nations where asylum seekers are being sent.

The big picture: Over the last few months, the Trump administration has begun implementing its asylum agreements with Central American nations, which could help keep asylum seekers out of the U.S.

  • They're sending Hondurans to Guatemala — the origin nation for the highest number of migrants who reached the U.S. border last year.
  • Officials could begin kicking Mexican, Central American and South American asylum seekers to Honduras or El Salvador as well — even if they are not from there — once the details of those agreements are worked out and put in motion.
  • The final details of the Honduras agreement will be implemented soon, DHS acting secretary Chad Wolf said last Thursday. The Honduran Foreign Relations minister has said the country agreed to accept migrants from Mexico, Brazil, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador, La Prensa reports.
  • The administration planned to begin removing Mexican asylum seekers to Guatemala, although the plan is temporarily on hold after broad backlash, according to Buzzfeed's Hamed Aleaziz.
  • More than 50,000 Central American asylum seekers have already been forced to wait out their legal cases in Mexico under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) — "Remain in Mexico." The program is expected to expand.

Between the lines: Even the thousands who have waited out their time in Mexico for a chance at asylum face steep odds of ever gaining legal passage into the U.S.

The bottom line: The number of people crossing the border fell for the seventh straight month in December — the first time that number of border crossings has fallen from November to December since 2012, according to new Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data.

  • Last month, just 40,620 migrants were arrested or turned away at the southern border — down from a peak of 144,116 in May of last year.
  • What to watch: Federal courts could still send Trump's wall of policies and programs tumbling, which some experts and officials fear could lead to another surge at the border in 2020.

What's next: Trump continues his slow campaign for a physical wall. The WashPost reports that he's "preparing to divert an additional $7.2 billion in [2020] Pentagon funding for border wall construction this year, five times what Congress authorized."

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New York City schools will not fully reopen in fall

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced at a press conference on Wednesday that schools will not fully reopen in fall, and will instead adopt a hybrid model that will limit in-person attendance to just one to three days a week.

Why it matters: New York City, once the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, is home to the nation's largest public school district — totaling 1,800 schools and 1.1 million students, according to the New York Times. The partial reopening plan could prevent hundreds of thousands of parents from fully returning to work.

Treasury blames lenders for PPP disclosure debacle

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The U.S. Treasury Department is pointing the finger at lenders for errors discovered in Monday's PPP data disclosure.

What they're saying: "Companies listed had their PPP applications entered into SBA’s Electronic Transmission (ETran) system by an approved PPP lender. If a lender did not cancel the loan in the ETran system, the loan is listed," a senior administration official said.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10:30 a.m. ET: 11,863,477 — Total deaths: 544,949 — Total recoveries — 6,483,402Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10:30 a.m. ET: 2,996,679 — Total deaths: 131,486 — Total recoveries: 936,476 — Total tested: 36,878,106Map.
  3. Public health: Deaths are rising in hotspots — Déjà vu sets in as testing issues rise and PPE dwindles.
  4. Travel: How the pandemic changed mobility habits, by state.
  5. Education: Harvard and MIT sue Trump administration over rule barring foreign students from online classes.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: A misinformation "infodemic" is here.