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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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 32,694,155 — Total deaths: 991,273 — Total recoveries: 22,575,658Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 7,074,155 — Total deaths: 204,461 — Total recoveries: 2,750,459 — Total tests: 100,492,536Map.
  3. States: New York daily cases top 1,000 for first time since June — U.S. reports over 55,000 new coronavirus cases.
  4. Health: The long-term pain of the mental health pandemicFewer than 10% of Americans have coronavirus antibodies.
  5. Business: Millions start new businesses in time of coronavirus.
  6. Education: Summer college enrollment offers a glimpse of COVID-19's effect.
Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

What they're saying: Trump nominates Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court

Judge Amy Coney Barrett in the Rose Garden of the White House on Sept. 26. Photo: Oliver Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Democratic and Republican lawmakers along with other leading political figures reacted to President Trump's Saturday afternoon nomination of federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.

What they're saying: "President Trump could not have made a better decision," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement. "Judge Amy Coney Barrett is an exceptionally impressive jurist and an exceedingly well-qualified nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States."

Amy Coney Barrett: "Should I be confirmed, I will be mindful of who came before me"

Trump introduces Amy Coney Barrett as nominee to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Photo: Olivier Douleiry/Getty Images

In speaking after President Trump announced her as the Supreme Court nominee to replaced Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Circuit Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett said on Saturday she will be "mindful" of those who came before her on the court if confirmed.

What she's saying: Barrett touched on Ginsburg's legacy, as well as her own judicial philosophy and family values. "I love the United States and I love the United States Constitution," she said. "I'm truly humbled at the prospect of serving on the  Supreme Court."

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