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Acting DHS Secretary: Border Crossings Down 43 Percent Since May

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan testifies in Washington, D.C., May 23, 2019. (James Lawler Duggan/Reuters)

Acting DHS secretary Kevin McAleenan said Wednesday that border crossings have declined 43 percent since May, when arrests between ports of entry at the southern border increased for the fourth straight month to 132,887, up from 99,304 arrests in April.

“So those efforts are making progress, 43 percent reduction in crossings since May,” McAleenan said. “We’re hoping to continue the progress in August.”

McAleenan said DHS is working with Central American countries to protect migrants who need asylum as well as conduct an “aggressive effort against human smugglers,” a project he said “could really change the game.”

“I’ll be going back to Central America next week to try to build on that with El Salvador and Panama and really address this problem as a regional effort,” he said.

The number of immigrants being held at border stations is also down significantly from its June high of 20,000, McAleenan said. “This morning we have less than 4,000, and they’re not staying with us very long. We’re able to repatriate the single adults quickly. The unaccompanied children are going to a better situation with Health and Human Services.”

The acting DHS chief went on to take a shot at what he sees as a toxic political environment “where we’re demonizing law enforcement for doing their jobs,” calling it “concerning.”

There have been several attacks on Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities in recent weeks, including incidents on Tuesday in which shots were fired into two San Antonio facilities. The FBI is investigating those attacks as an “assault on a federal official case.”

“It can be dangerous, and it can result in people taking actions that are not supported by the facts, that are not in response to anything inappropriate that our men and women of ICE and enforcement removal operations are doing,” McAleenan said. “And I think we’ve got to tone that down, absolutely.”

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