More than 50,000 people were arrested trying to cross the US border in May, the third consecutive month that figure has been reached. The high volume suggests that tough new rules put in place by the Trump administration—including the separation of migrant children from their parents—are not having an "immediate deterrent effect," per the Washington Post. The newspaper adds that President Trump is pressuring Department of Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen to quickly improve the arrest stats, used as a gauge for immigration flows, before the November midterms. However, a DHS statement argues that "no one expects to reverse years of political inaction overnight or in a month." Similarly, NBC News quotes a DHS official who points out that migrants reaching the border now set out months ago, before knowing about the tougher rules.
Among other things, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a "zero tolerance" policy in April and vowed to prosecute everyone caught trying to cross the border illegally, reports NPR. Some specifics from the May numbers:
- Border Patrol agents made 40,344 arrests, and customs officers made another 11,568. The latter typically occur at official ports of entry, when migrants are deemed inadmissible.
- DHS says 6,405 unaccompanied children were detained, up more than 2,000 from April. Many of those were youths trying to reach a parent already in the US. About 11,000 immigrant minors were in US custody as of late last month, up 20% from April, per the Post.
- The year-over-year comparisons were greater: "The number of illegal family units trying to cross the border increased by 435% in comparison to May 2017—and the number of unaccompanied alien children apprehended illegally crossing the border increased by 329% in May 2018 in comparison to May 2017," says the DHS statement.
- Most of the arrests took place across the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, though arrests were ticking up in Arizona.
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