The executive order President Donald Trump implemented in late June didn’t do much to deter family units from attempting to come into the U.S., according to figures released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
In July, U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested 9,250 family units, down slightly from June’s number of 9,434 family units arrested, the data shows.
In fiscal year 2017, agents arrested 3,389 family units in July and 2,322 family units in June, data shows.
In late June, Trump signed an order ending the separation of children from their parents that was part of the “zero tolerance” policy announced in April. The policy was implemented beginning in May to deter, as the administration put it, the continued migration of Central American families into the U.S.
“...The number of family units apprehended at the border remains high and their percentage of total crossings has increased as court decisions prevent us from detaining and prosecuting family unit adults,” DHS Press Secretary Tyler Q. Houlton said in a prepared statement. “The inability to apply consequences to any lawbreaker ultimately threatens the safety and security of the nation and its communities.”
The policy, announced by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, urged prosecutors to put priority on all illegal entry and reentry cases, even those defendants who did not have a prior criminal record.
But zero tolerance led to high caseloads for prosecutors and public defenders working along the U.S.-Mexico border, as Border Patrol officials referred all illegal entry cases, even misdemeanor cases, for prosecution — leading to the separation of children from their parents.
The Southwest Border Migration numbers also showed that arrests were down for the second consecutive month in July, with 31,303 arrests compared to the more than 34,000 people arrested in June, statistics show.
Agents arrested 18,187 people in July and 16,087 people in June, according to data for the 2017 fiscal year.
“This decrease shows that when there are real consequences for breaking the law, the conduct of those considering crimes will change,” Houlton said. “In the month of July, we saw a decrease in illegal border crossings because human traffickers and transnational criminal organizations were put on notice that this administration was increasing prosecutions of those entering the country illegally. Despite our terribly broken immigration laws, the administration has still been able to impact illegal immigration — but we need Congress to act to fix our system.”
The Southwest Border is made up of nine sectors, including Big Bend, Del Rio, El Centro, El Paso, Laredo, Rio Grande, San Diego, Tucson and Yuma.