Official numbers from the Customs and Border Protection show that illegal alien crossings at the southern U.S. border are plummeting, and some are crediting President Donald Trump's strict rhetoric for the turnaround.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on Wednesday announced the numbers, which showed a 40 percent drop in illegal crossings from January to February. The website for the U.S Customs and Border Protection called the drop "unprecedented":
Today, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is releasing illegal border crossing data through the month of February and the numbers show an unprecedented decline in traffic. From January to February, the flow of illegal border crossings as measured by apprehensions and the prevention of inadmissible persons at our southern border dropped by 40 percent.
The agency explained that, when adjusted for seasonal trends, the drop is even greater, as they usually expect an increase from January to February:
This change in the trend line is especially significant because CBP historically sees a 10-20 percent increase in apprehensions of illegal immigrants from January to February. Instead, this year we saw a drop from 31,578 to 18,762 persons — a 40 percent decline.
The Border Patrol cited another indicator of success: a marked increase in the fees smugglers charged to bring people over the border:
Additionally, we are seeing an increase in the fees charged by human smugglers along the U.S. southwest border. Since Nov. 2016, “coyotes” have hiked their fees in some areas by roughly 130 percent — from $3,500 to $8,000 in certain mountainous regions. Changes in U.S. policy, including the detention of apprehended aliens, drive up the smuggling fees.
Kelly concluded the report saying the U.S. Customs and Border Protection was dedicated to "fair, impartial and humane enforcement" of the immigration laws.
Previously, Kelly admitted that they were considering separating children from parents who were detained at the border attempting to cross illegally, hoping that such action would deter other migrants. Kelly explained to CNN's Wolf Blitzer that deterring crossings meant saving people from terrible conditions on the "network," as he described it, that transports people from South America through Mexico and into the United States.
Trump appears to have softened on the issue of allowing "DREAMers," the recipients of Obama's amnesty for childhood arrivals, to have some kind of legal status and remain in the country.
However, many pro-amnesty activists such as Univision anchor Jorge Ramos are still calling for a blanket legalization of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. And some faith leaders in California and elsewhere are organizing "safe houses" in what they call an illegal alien "underground railroad" to help them escape deportation.