Last October, then-U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson attempted to explain the 23-percent increase in illegal immigration apprehensions along the southwest border in one year. “Border security alone cannot overcome the powerful push factors of poverty and violence that exist in Central America,” Johnson argued. “Ultimately, the solution is long-term investment in Central America to address the underlying push factors in the region.”
Central America remains violence- and poverty-ridden. But under the leadership of President Trump and DHS Secretary John Kelly, apprehensions of illegal immigrants along the southwest border have dropped significantly. According to the Washington Times, southwest border crossings are at their lowest point in 17 years.
In a DHS report released on Tuesday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials announced that only 11,000 individuals were apprehended along the southwest border in April. This decrease in apprehensions is likely not a fluke: Indeed, every month that Trump has been in the Oval Office, the number of apprehensions along the southwest border has declined. In February, Trump’s first full month in office, there were 18,000 apprehensions; one month later, there were 12,000. These numbers sit in stark contrast to those in November and December (when President Obama was still in office but Trump’s presidential transition was underway), which saw 47,000 and 43,000 apprehensions, respectively.
DHS spokesman David Lapan reasoned that the decrease in apprehensions occurred because of the “change in our enforcement policy.” “People in Central America are waiting and watching what happens rather than taking the long journey,” Lapan said, adding, “When you get here, it’s likely you will be caught and returned to your country.”
It seems that the U.S. didn’t need to make a long-term investment in Central America to decrease illegal immigration; it just needed to enforce its immigration laws.