There's usually a significant increase, of up to 20%, each January to February in the apprehension of illegal immigrants crossing over into the States from Mexico. But this year, a surprising development, the BBC reports: Based on figures released by Customs and Border Protection, January's number of 31,578 plummeted to 18,762 in February—an "unprecedented" 40% decrease. Homeland Security chief John Kelly attributes this "change in trends" to the new inhabitant of the Oval Office, linking the "dramatic drop" to President Trump's executive orders designed to deal directly with immigration. Kelly also notes it's "encouraging news" for the immigrants themselves, since the numbers suggest fewer people are putting their lives at risk of "exploitation, assault, and injury" at the hands of human smugglers, as well as hardship from the perilous trip itself.
CNN confirms the upending of a nearly two-decade trend of higher February apprehension numbers, citing CBP data back to 2000. However, critics say this just means that the new mandates have targeted vulnerable populations like women and children and scared them off from even attempting to gain entry. "The bullies can gloat and preen that they chased the skinny kids off the block," says Leon Rodriguez, who used to run the US Citizenship and Immigration Services office under former President Obama. That fear is extending up to our northern border as well, with the Washington Post reporting on "mounting numbers" of migrants fleeing to Canada, braving even blizzard conditions to seek asylum outside the US. "They'll take whatever risk," says the director of Minnesota's Confederation of Somali Community. (What could happen next: moms separated from their children at the border.)