SAN DIEGO (AP) — The number of people arrested or stopped entering the United States on the Mexico border fell for a seventh straight month in December, with Mexicans making up a larger part of the mix, authorities said Thursday.
The tally helps explain why the U.S. has turned more attention to Mexican asylum-seekers as President Donald Trump seeks to highlight his dramatic moves to reshape immigration policy in his campaign for a second term.
The Department of Homeland Security plans to send Mexicans to Guatemala with an opportunity to seek protection there, a highly unusual move among developing nations seeking ways to curb asylum claims. Monday’s announcement drew criticism from the Mexican government, which has so far worked closely with the U.S. to address an unprecedented surge of asylum-seekers, many of them Central American families.
The Trump administration has begun a host of other enforcement measures, including a test in El Paso, Texas, to quickly determine asylum claims and flights to deport Mexicans to Guadalajara to discourage repeat attempts.
U,.S. authorities made 40,620 arrests of people who crossed illegally or who presented themselves at official crossings in December, down 5% from 42,651 in November and down 72% from a 13-year high of 144,116 in May.
Mexicans accounted for half of arrests and people stopped at official crossings, more than three times more any other nationality and a major shift from much of last year, when Guatemala and Honduras were the countries of origin.