MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 23:  A migrant child looks out the window of a bus as protesters try to block a bus carrying migrant children out of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Detention Center on June 23, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. Dozens of protesters blocked the bus from leaving the center resulting in scuffles with police and Border Patrol agents before the bus retreated back to the center.  Before President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday that halts the practice of separating families who were seeking asylum, over 2,300 immigrant children had been separated from their parents in the  zero-tolerance policy for border crossers.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
How is the US required to treat children at the border?
01:45 - Source: CNN
Washington CNN  — 

US immigration officials apprehended fewer migrants along the US-Mexico border in July than they did in June, a steady decline since the May high, according to data released Thursday by US Customs and Border Protection.

There were nearly 72,000 arrests made in July along the southern border, down about 24% from 94,908 made in June, according to the data. The dip in arrests is in line with the 28% drop in apprehensions in June from May the highest month in more than a decade. But the new figure is significantly higher from where it stood last July.

The newly released data also indicates that there there was a 43% drop in total apprehensions and encounters along the border from May to July.

Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan said Thursday that while the situation is improving, “we are still in a full-blown crisis.”

The numbers come two months after Mexico, in the wake of a tariff threat from President Donald Trump, signed a deal with the US, which included an agreement by Mexico to take “unprecedented steps” to increase enforcement and curb irregular migration. Although a dip in border crossings is common during the hot summer months, Morgan denied the decrease was due to seasonal trends.

A senior Border Patrol official told CNN earlier this week that “we will have to wait till end of August to see whether trend holds,” referring to the drop in border crossings.

The official said a combination of factors contributed to the reduction, including Mexico’s enforcement efforts and the continued rollout of the Migration Protection Protocols, whereby migrants are returned to Mexico to await their immigration proceedings.

“All of these things together (are) helping” the official said.

Morgan said that progress made by Mexico in enforcing its borders has been “particularly important.”

According to the data, the number of unaccompanied children and families apprehended at the southern border decreased between June and July by about 24% and 25%, respectively, a dip that a CBP spokesperson attributed to a recent increase in agents at the border.

“During the past several months US Customs and Border Protection had reassigned 731 officers from ports of entry nationwide to support US Border Patrol sectors along the southwest border where apprehensions of family units and unaccompanied children from Central America had overwhelmed Border Patrol capabilities and facilities,” the CBP official said on Wednesday.

“The total number of CBP officers allocated was dictated by the operational need required by U.S. Border Patrol to help relieve the strain,” the official added.

Morgan credited the $4.5 billion emergency supplemental funds provided by Congress this summer for reducing the time migrants are spending in Border Patrol custody.

The number of unaccompanied children in Border Patrol custody on the southern border went from a peak of 2,700 in mid-June to fewer than 160 this week.

The average time in custody for single adults is 69 hours, down from around 300 hours last month, according to Brian Hastings, the chief of law enforcement operations for the Border Patrol. The average time in custody for all migrants is about 50 hours.

“Our facilities are like police stations. They are processing centers. They were never built, designed, nor should they be locations where children should be in,” Morgan added.

He also touted the Mexico-supported Migrant Protection Protocols program as aiding the decline at the border. To date, almost 30,000 migrants are waiting in Mexico in the program, said Morgan.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct the days that a senior Border Patrol official and a Customs and Border Protection spokesperson made their remarks to CNN.