The number of migrant families that were arrested along the U.S.-Mexico border remained nearly unchanged from June to July, according to government data released Wednesday, The Washington Post reported.
U.S. border agents arrested 9,258 family members along the border in July, down from 9,434 in June and 9,485 in May, which suggests that the family separation policy from the Trump administration had little effect in deterring people from attempting to make the journey, the newspaper noted.
Proponents of the policy said that separations would be a stronger deterrent if the policy was allowed more time, saying that its primary impact would not be felt until word reaches rural Central America and prompts parents to reconsider their plans, according to the Post.
While families continued to arrive at the same rate, the number of unaccompanied minors declined from 5,093 in June to 3,938 in July, the report noted.
Family groups accounted for a larger share of unauthorized border crossers in July, 29.6 percent, a Department of Homeland Security senior official said, The Washington Post reported.
“The fact that we’re unable to detain family units is attracting more people to cross as family groups,” said the official, The Post reported.
Trump administration officials on Wednesday said the declining arrest numbers show that their stronger approach is effective.
“This decrease shows that when there are real consequences for breaking the law, the conduct of those considering crimes will change,’ said Homeland Security spokesman Tyler Q. Houlton in a statement.
Another reason for the decline could be that U.S. officials have turned away those who seek asylum at official border crossings. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers have intercepted some families and told them to come back later when the agency has more capacity to handle their claims.
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