WASHINGTON DC (NEXSTAR) – Federal agents arrested nearly one million migrants along the U.S. southern border during the government’s 2019 fiscal year that just ended, according to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection report released Tuesday.
“These numbers are numbers that no immigration system in the world is designed to handle,” said Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan during a rare White House briefing.
However, the number of illegal border crossings has been declining in the past several months.
According to CBP, September hit 52,000 apprehensions, compared to 64,000 people in August, 82,000 in July and 104,000 in June.
“They’re learning now that we’re closing those loopholes,” Morgan said. “If you grab a kid, it’s not your passport into the U.S.”
Morgan credits the decline, in part, to the Migration Protection Protocols, known as MPP or “Remain in Mexico,” the Trump administration implemented at the beginning of the year. Under the policy, asylum seekers return to Mexico to await their immigration proceedings in the U.S.
Morgan said Mexico has been cooperating, accepting more than 50,000 people.
“Something really for the history books,” he said.
Morgan announced the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will also start enforcing a new asylum rule this week. It denies asylum seekers who did not first seek asylum in a country they passed through.
“We should all want them to stop in the first country they can to seek help,” Morgan said.
However, Morgan believes policies can only go so far. He said the ultimate deterrent is a wall to help his agents do their jobs safely and effectively.
“They need this wall,” Morgan said as he pounded his fists on the podium.
According to CBP, there are currently more than 70 miles of construction that have built on existing walls, with 100 more miles of new wall on the way. The agency’s goal is 450 miles by the end of 2020.