By Andy Sullivan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Far fewer migrants are trying to enter the United States in June due to increased efforts by the Mexican government to stem the flow of people heading north from Central America, the top U.S. border security official said on Friday.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said he anticipated that the apprehension of migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border could fall by as much as 25% from May’s record levels. Some of the migrants are trying to enter the United States illegally while others are seeking asylum.
The drop is due to Mexico’s increased enforcement efforts, not seasonal factors, McAleenan said at a news conference.
“These initiatives are making an impact and we are now anticipating a significant reduction in border crossing numbers for June,” he said.
Facing a threat of tariffs from U.S. President Donald Trump, Mexico deployed 20,000 National Guard troops to interdict Central American migrants headed to the United States. Mexico has not traditionally used security forces to stop migrants from leaving the country.
McAleenan’s comments came a day after Congress approved $4.6 billion in aid to address the surge of migrants fleeing violence and poverty in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, overcoming the objections of liberal Democrats who had sought additional protections for migrant children.
A photo of a drowned Salvadoran father and daughter earlier this week in the Rio Grande on the border focussed attention on the dangers faced by migrants, while lawyers representing immigrants have reported horrendous conditions at some facilities.
U.S. border security officials say they have been overwhelmed by the number of people seeking asylum.
McAleenan said U.S. policymakers, not border agents, were responsible for any shortcomings.
“Here in Washington we have collectively failed to act on the drivers of the crisis,” he said.
McAleenan said Congress should discourage asylum seekers from travelling to the United States by allowing refugees to apply for protection within their own country or a neighbouring country and speeding up the asylum process so family members can get a decision within 20 to 30 days.
(Reporting by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Alistair Bell)