Back in June, many on the left pooh-poohed Trump’s deal with Mexico to avoid tariffs in exchange for stronger efforts by Mexico to curb the flow of immigrants through their country into the United States. While the positive impact of that deal became apparent almost immediately, we now have a much clearer picture of the impact of the deal Trump struck with Mexico, as border apprehensions have plummeted the past three months.
Immigration officials apprehended just over 64,000 migrants at the southern border in August – a dramatic drop that the Trump administration is presenting as a sign its diplomatic engagement with Mexico and other countries is having positive effects on the ground.
The 64,006 migrants apprehended or deemed inadmissible represents a 22 percent drop from July, when 82,055 were apprehended, and a 56 percent drop from the peak of the crisis in May, when more than 144,000 migrants were caught or deemed inadmissible. While the numbers typically drop in the summer, the plummet is steeper than typical seasonal declines.
Meanwhile, the number of caravans has also dropped. In May, 48 caravans of migrants were recorded coming to the U.S. In August, the tally was six. Border Patrol now has fewer than 5,000 migrants in custody, down from 19,000 at the peak in the spring.
The numbers are still technically at crisis levels, but nevertheless, the trend is clear and proves that Trump’s policies are working. “That international effort is making an impact. Mexican operational interdiction is certainly [the] highlight of that effort, but the shared responsibility we’re seeing in the region, governments stepping up and saying we also own this,” said Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan on Monday while on Fox News. Another senior administration official said that “the tariff threat with Mexico changed the dynamic significantly with our partners.”
Trump announced in May that he intended to impose tariffs on Mexico if it did not help the U.S. combat the migration crisis. Trump ultimately suspended the tariffs days before after a deal was reached that included Mexico taking “unprecedented steps” to boost enforcement, including deploying its National Guard, while the MPP, known informally as the “Remain in Mexico” policy, was expanded.
Mexico has now been giving those migrants a permit to remain, work authorizations and social security and providing free transportation to anyone who wants to return to their home countries.
A senior administration official pointed to engagement with countries in Central America and agreements made with Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador on issues such as human smuggling – the main countries sending migrants to the U.S. The official said that Honduras has so far more than doubled its border force after the U.S. requested they triple it.
A long-term solution to the problem of illegal immigration must still come from Congress, which seems unlikely as long as Democrats control the House. Thankfully Trump is doing something to solve the problem.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis