Arrests on the US-Mexico border dropped in January, marking a decline for the eighth consecutive month, according to data obtained by CNN.
There were around 29,200 apprehensions on the southwest border in January, a drop from the 32,858 arrests in December, data from US Customs and Border Protection showed. Apprehensions are used as a measure of illegal border crossings and an indicator of potential issues in other countries causing people to flee.
The numbers are down significantly from January 2019, when US Border Patrol arrested 47,979 people near the southern border. However, this month’s arrests are higher than January 2018, when 25,975 people were apprehended.
The Associated Press first reported the drop in January.
The drop in apprehensions comes after a massive influx of migrant children and families arrived at US borders last year, overwhelming resources and straining agency morale. Migrants, including children, were held longer than the allowed 72 hours, and some border patrol facilities faced dangerous overcrowding.
Last May, during the height of the migration crisis, border patrol on the southwest border arrested 132,856 people, primarily family members from the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
The Rio Grande Valley region of Texas continued to have the highest number of apprehensions last month with around 6,479. The next highest was Tucson with 5,157, followed by El Paso and San Diego, according to the preliminary data.
CBP does not comment on monthly numbers until they are publicly released by the agency each month.
Last month, acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan said the decline was a “direct result of President (Donald) Trump’s network of policy initiatives” and the agency’s ability to “effectively enforce the law, enhance our border security posture and properly care for those in custody.”
The administration has instituted a series of policies aimed at deterring illegal migration to the US, including the Migrant Protection Protocols, which force migrants to wait in Mexico for their US court proceedings. The administration is also sending some asylum seekers to Guatemala to seek humanitarian protections there.
Advocates and lawmakers have slammed the policies as inhumane and a violation of law. And numerous lawsuits have been filed against the administration’s attempts to change US asylum policy.