White House Spokesman Josh Earnest said Friday that the crisis at the southern U.S. border is over given the reduced number of unaccompanied children coming across.
Earnest was asked by a reporter whether those reduced numbers mean the crisis is over. Earnest replied, “for now.”
But Earnest stressed that the White House still expected to have to cope with the problem, as the number of people coming across the border has fluctuated at times.
“[T]his is a problem that we still have remained very focused on, because this has been a very volatile situation,” he said. “Those numbers have, without a lot of warning, on some occasions, spiked.”
“And so we’re going to continue our diplomatic efforts to work with the home countries of these individuals where we’re seeing this population of moving to the southwest U.S. border to make sure they understand that they shouldn’t try to make this dangerous journey,” he added.
Earnest did admit that weather has affected the flow of illegal immigrants, and that the numbers have likely dropped because fewer children have tried to make the trip during the hottest time of the ear. Still, Earnest said the administration’s effort to work with Central American countries has also been a factor that led to the decrease.
“I don’t want to leave the impression that it’s only because it’s what the administration has done that we’ve seen these numbers go down,” he said. “But there’s no doubt that the administration has made a substantial contribution to the reduction in those numbers.”
The number of unaccompanied children being apprehended each day by border agents dropped by more than a third in August compared to June. Still, officials have said they expect an increase in September, and that as many as 90,000 children may try to cross by the end of the fiscal year, which ends September 30.
If that surge happens, it would likely indicate that children only stopped trying to cross the border in August in order to avoid the heat, despite Earnest’s comment that weather is just one factor.
As of the end of July, nearly 63,000 unaccompanied children had been apprehended.