DHS linked the drop to the Trump administration’s hard-line immigration policies and renewed support from the Mexican government to curb people trying to enter the U.S.
Border officials have been operating under President Donald Trump’s new “Remain in Mexico” policy, which allows the federal government to force many asylum seekers back across the border while they wait for their applications to be processed. Applicants had previously been allowed to wait in the U.S.
“These initiatives are making an impact,” Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan said in a statement.
McAleenan noted 688,375 people have been apprehended this year, a 140% increase over 2018, and he issued a stark warning about border agents’ capacity to deal with the “full-blown emergency.” There were still more than 100,000 arrests in June, the fourth month in a row with that many detentions, and DHS has been stretched to the limit attempting to stem the flow of people across the border.
“We are still in an ongoing border security and humanitarian crisis,” McAleenan said. “Our June apprehension numbers are still higher than last year’s, when we were already in a crisis. We are past the breaking point and in a full-blown emergency. This situation should not be acceptable to any of us.”
Trump has made immigration a signature policy of his presidency, replacing any officials he deems unsuited to carrying out his hard-line agenda on the border. He has dismissed reports of inhuman conditions at U.S. detention centers, writing on Twitter that if migrants were unhappy, “just tell them not to come.”
On Monday, the United Nations’ leading human rights officials said she was “deeply shocked” by the conditions of detention centers in America. Many reports have warned of dangerous overcrowding and filthy conditions in the facilities, which have struggled to keep up with the rampant flow of people seeking refuge in the U.S.
As a pediatrician, but also as a mother and a former head of State, I am deeply shocked that children are forced to sleep on the floor in overcrowded facilities, without access to adequate health care or food, and with poor sanitation conditions,” Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights, said in a statement this week.
The White House has continued to defend itself amid the reports. McAleenan said over the weekend he knew “what are standards are, and I know that they’re being followed.”