Illegal border crossings from Mexico into the United States have dropped steeply in the first months of the Trump administration.
That’s according to figures released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) May 9, the Washington Times reported.
In April 11,129 people were seized attempting to cross the border, down from 12,196 in March and 43,251 in December, before Donald Trump came to office.
“A lot of the discussion about changes in our enforcement policy and the way we are going about doing business, we believe that has deterred people,” DHS spokesman David Lapan said, according to the Times. “When you get here it is likely you are going to get caught, you are going to be returned to your country.”
998 children were apprehended crossing the border in April and 1,119 people traveling as families were caught. This is a drop from more than 16,000 in December 2016.
“We are still seeing a lot of illicit drugs come into the country,” Lapan said.
The new figures come after Republicans and Democrats agreed on an additional $1.5 billion for border security measures in April’s budget deal.
Republicans allege that this sum contains money that will allow construction of Trump’s border wall to proceed in the form of a 20 foot high steel fence. The deal specifies that funding cannot be used to begin new construction projects, but only to expand and repair existing ones.
Estimates for the cost of Trump’s border wall range from $12 billion to $22 billion.
But even if it is completed, CNN reports that it will not be able to stop the flow of all illegal drugs into the country. A border patrol marine unit intercepted a speedboat carrying 1,300 pounds of cocaine of the coast of Puerto Rico in April.
Drug seizures at the border are down slightly since January 2017, but DHS has acknowledged that this does not mean less drugs are being transported.
“Down doesn’t mean stopped,” Lapan said, according to CNN. “Part of the reason that drugs come through waterways is because they’re looking for other ways around where we have good defenses.”
Some experts argue a wall will do little to improve the situation, unless other measures are taken.
“The wall will redirect the nature of smuggling but will prove to be spectacularly ineffective when it comes to actually stopping the flow of drugs,” Vanda Felbab-Brown, a global drug policy senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told CNN.
(H/T Opposing Views)