By Susan Shand
02 July, 2018

The Associated Press, or AP, reports that arrests at the border between Mexico and the United States fell sharply in the month of June.

The AP report says its information came from a U.S. official.

The lower number follows four months of increases. The number could be a product of President Donald Trump's policy of bringing criminal charges against every adult who enters the country illegally. Or it could be the result of changing seasons.

A mother migrating from Honduras holds her 1-year-old child as surrendering to U.S. Border Patrol agents after illegally crossing the border Monday, June 25, 2018, near McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
A mother migrating from Honduras holds her 1-year-old child as surrendering to U.S. Border Patrol agents after illegally crossing the border Monday, June 25, 2018, near McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

U.S. border agents made more than 34,000 arrests along the Mexican border during June, down 16 percent compared to the number in May. The June numbers were being described as preliminary and may change.

The AP report said the sharp drop could undermine the Trump administration's storyline of a crisis at the border.

Customs and Border Protection, which includes the Border Patrol, refused to comment on the numbers. The agency said it does not discuss them as a matter of policy until they are officially released to the public.

The administration announced in May that it was taking legal action against every illegal entry, including adults who came with their children.

More than 2,000 boys and girls have been separated from their parents since they crossed the border without documentation. On June 20, the president amended the policy, ordering that detained families should stay together.

Kevin McAleenan is head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. He told reporters last week that the number of border arrests were "trending" lower. McAleenan said he would not provide the numbers until their public release in early July. He also said that the increased border activities "had an impact" on the arrests.

Immigration Protest

The AP story was published two days after thousands of people demonstrated in cities, big and small, across the country. They were protesting the administration's policy of prosecuting every migrant who crosses the border illegally.

In New York City, thousands of protesters marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to show their opposition to the policy. There were similar protests in Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago.

In Washington, tens of thousands of people marched to the White House. They passed the Trump International Hotel and then moved to the Justice Department, where protestors put up signs at building entrances.

"We are better than this," one sign read.

"We have three demands," said Anna Galland, executive director of the activist group Moveon.org. "Reunite families, end family internment camps and end...the policy that created this humanitarian crisis."

Last week, the Trump administration ordered the Department of Defense to provide space at military bases to hold thousands of detained migrants in "tent" cities.

The administration identified two places in Texas -- Fort Bliss army base, near El Paso, and Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo -- to house the migrants.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters that "providing housing...for those who need it is a legitimate governmental function." Mattis added that he knew the decision was "political."

The U.S. military is preparing space for the migrants, but they will be cared for by humanitarian organizations, not soldiers.

Six Texas lawmakers sent a letter to the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services calling the "tent" cities "dehumanizing."

"A tent city is not a place for children to be," said Congressman Cesar Blanco, a member of the Democratic Party. All five other lawmakers are Democrats.

I'm Susan Shand.

This story was written by Susan Shand. George Grow was the editor.

Write to us in the Comments Section or on 51VOA.COM.

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Words in This Story

prosecutev. to hold a trial against a person who is accused of a crime to see if that person is guilty

preliminaryn. something that comes first in order to prepare for or introduce the main part of something else

undermine - v. to weaken or wash away something

trendn. something that is currently popular or fashionable

internment n. the act of putting someone in a prison for political reasons or during a war

function – n. the special purpose or activity for which a thing exists or is used

tentn. a temporary shelter

executiveadj. of or related to the execution of something

matter – n. a subject or issue under consideration; something written or published