Illegal immigration across the south-western border is on track to be at its lowest level since 1972, according to Jeh Johnson, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Speaking yesterday, Johnson claimed that the effort to reduce the number of undocumented immigrants entering the United States following last year’s massive influx had been a success.
“The bottom line of all this is, in recent years the total number of those who attempt to illegally cross our south-west border has declined dramatically, while the percentage of those who are apprehended has gone up,” Johnson told an audience at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. “Put simply, it’s now much harder to cross our border illegally and evade capture than it used to be – and people know that.”
Illegal immigration from Central America has been border security’s biggest test over the last few years, with tens of thousands of undocumented unaccompanied immigrant minors crossing the border last summer, as well as tens of thousands of immigrant mothers and children. The numbers have abated in 2015, however, returning to the levels of around mid-2013 before the mass influx commenced.
Johnson also defended some of the harsher detention practices introduced by his department in the wake of the 2014 surge, including the construction of more detention centers for women and children, which have been the subject of much criticism. Johnson claims the steps were necessary and have helped to curb the surge.