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Border break: 56% fewer migrants at the border, says Mexico

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Mexico’s Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard announced on Friday a successful 56 percent reduction in the number of migrants in the last three months.

In June, President Trump drove negotiations with Mexico aimed at stemming the tide of illegal immigration moving through the country to the southern border of the United States. That agreement gave Mexico three months to take necessary steps to significantly pare the numbers of undocumented migrants within 90 days or tariffs against the country would go into effect.

Five-percent tariffs were threatened by Trump, rising every month if Mexico failed to act, ultimately with import duties reaching 25 percent.

Ebrard, using data from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), said that the number of migrants stopped in August was 63,989 in August, down from 146,266 in May.

Mexico has deployed at least 20,000 police officers and National Guard troops throughout the country to prevent illegal passage through its territories.

The Foreign Secretary will meet with U.S. officials in Washington on Tuesday to discuss progress on their efforts. “We’re showing that the strategy that Mexico put forward has been successful. I don’t expect there to be a tariff threat on Tuesday,” Ebrard said about the meeting.

“The Mexican strategy is working,” he said.

“It’s a direct result of the negotiations of this president and this administration specifically with our international partners,” said acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan said last month.

President Trump has not yet commented about the latest numbers reported by Mexico but he did tell reporters on Wednesday that he was pleased with their efforts. “I want to thank Mexico, the Mexican government, their great President of Mexico, for helping us,” he said. “They’re helping us in a very big way. Far bigger than anybody thought even possible.”

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan on Wednesday, before official numbers were released that border arrests had been more than halved in August compared with the May high-water point, told reporters finalized figures would be released next week.

It’s worth noting that early this summer, Democrats and even some Republicans criticized Trump’s tariff approach with Mexico to reduce illegal immigration, expressing skepticism about whether it would work.

Stopping migrants has not been the only goal of the ramped-up law enforcement efforts in Mexico. Mexico has stated it is targeting smuggling networks that have been responsible for organizing huge caravans headed to the U.S. The government has threatened bus drivers that they would lose their permits if they are caught transporting migrants.

The Mexican effort to reduce the flow of migrants is just one part of the Trump administration’s efforts to control the crisis at the border. On Tuesday, the Defense Secretary Mark Esper told Congress that the administration is going forward with transferring $3.6 billion in funds from military construction projects to build 175 miles of the wall along the border.

Esper stated in a September letter to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe:

Pursuant to the authority granted to me in Section 2808, I have determined that 11 military construction projects along the international border with Mexico, with an estimated total cost of $3.6 billion, are necessary to support the use of the armed forces in connection with the national emergency.

These projects will deter illegal entry, increase the vanishing time of those illegally crossing the border, and channel migrants to ports of entry. They will reduce the demand for DoD personnel and assets at the locations where the barriers are constructed and allow the redeployment of DoD personnel and assets to other high-traffic areas on the border without barriers.

Esper ordered the acting Army secretary to begin the 11 wall projects “expeditiously.”

Victor Rantala

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