Top immigration official: Border crossings dropping | TribLIVE.com
U.S./World

Top immigration official: Border crossings dropping

Associated Press
1353892_web1_1353892-54252183a76a4ef884f474fcecbe5c69
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan speaks during a news conference in Washington, Friday, June 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
1353892_web1_1353892-2c456843329b4681ab96956614ab1445
U.S. Border Patrol unveils the new 500-person tent facility during a media tour meant to process detained immigrant children and families who cross the U.S. border Friday, June 28, 2019, in Yuma, Ariz. The Border Patrol says it will start placing families there on Friday night. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
1353892_web1_1353892-cd9639f5c385472d8c276faa89f58e35
Laundry machines line a room as the U.S. Border Patrol unveiled a new 500-person tent facility during a media tour Friday, June 28, 2019, in Yuma, Ariz. The facility will be used to process detained immigrant children and families who cross the U.S. border. The Border Patrol says it will start placing families there on Friday night. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
1353892_web1_1353892-f886646b42514cb3a25422cf8afdade6
Shower stalls and sinks are seen as the U.S. Border Patrol unveiled a new 500-person tent facility during a media tour Friday, June 28, 2019, in Yuma, Ariz. The facility will be used to process detained immigrant children and families who cross the U.S. border. The Border Patrol says it will start placing families there on Friday night. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
1353892_web1_1353892-c8118e58d96a459e86b9b00a4e95e6a9
Workers put the finishing touches as the U.S. Border Patrol unveiled a new 500-person tent facility during a media tour Friday, June 28, 2019, in Yuma, Ariz. The facility will be used to process detained immigrant children and families who cross the U.S. border. The Border Patrol says it will start placing families there on Friday night. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
1353892_web1_1353892-f76587a9145c4e509c5f9f3d07cb8e9a
Workers put the finishing touches as the U.S. Border Patrol unveiled a new 500-person tent facility during a media tour Friday, June 28, 2019, in Yuma, Ariz. The facility will be used to process detained immigrant children and families who cross the U.S. border. The Border Patrol says it will start placing families there on Friday night. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
1353892_web1_1353892-4e2b935652844fb29f6733d38b06b407
U.S. Border Patrol Chief Patrol Agent Yuma Sector, Anthony Porvaznik talks about their new 500-person tent facility during a media tour Friday, June 28, 2019, in Yuma, Ariz. The facility will be used to process detained immigrant children and families who cross the U.S. border. The Border Patrol says it will start placing families there on Friday night. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
1353892_web1_1353892-cd861426f4c34a358ced831b7e7aa7a4
A worker sweeps the floor as the U.S. Border Patrol unveiled a new 500-person tent facility during a media tour Friday, June 28, 2019, in Yuma, Ariz. The facility will be used to process detained immigrant children and families who cross the U.S. border. The Border Patrol says it will start placing families there on Friday night. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

YUMA, Ariz. — The acting secretary of Homeland Security said Friday that he expected 25% fewer migrants to cross the border this month, as officials in Yuma unveiled the newest temporary facility meant to detain children and families.

That number of illegal crossings would still be too high, but it was a start, Kevin McAleenan said, crediting Mexico with a concentrated effort to stop Central Americans before they arrived even to Mexico — a push prompted by threats of tariffs from President Donald Trump.

The president has seen numbers of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border skyrocket under his term despite his hardline policies and tough talk. More than 100,000 people, mostly families from Central America, have crossed the border each month over the past few months. Trump sees the monthly border numbers as a benchmark for success, and in the past when he felt numbers were too high, he threatened to shut down the border.

McAleenan dismissed the idea that a projected decrease in June was due in part to hot summer months, traditionally a time fewer people cross.

“These initiatives are making an impact,” he said.

Meanwhile, facilities that house detained migrants are vastly overcrowded and advocates and attorneys have decried conditions inside. Border facilities are meant as temporary holding stations, built to hold a maximum of about 4,000, but have routinely held as many as 15,000.

Teens and children, detained days or weeks by U.S. border authorities, described frigid cells where flu-stricken children in dirty clothes ran fevers, vomited and cried with no idea when they would get out, according to court documents in a case that governs how children are cared for in government custody.

Congress sent Trump a $4.6 billion package on Thursday that bolsters care for the tens of thousands of migrants taken into custody. McAleenan praised the move, but also cautioned there was much more work to do.

In Yuma, construction on the new 500-person tent facility in the back parking lot of a Border Patrol headquarters began about two weeks ago. Large air conditioning units set up for them hum loudly.

The facility is composed of two large tents: One for processing and another that’s divided into pods for holding and is expected to open in the next day, said Yuma Sector Chief Anthony Porvaznik.

The facilities will be exclusively for families traveling with children and for unaccompanied children. The agency spent just under $15 million for the setup and services for four months, including meals, laundry and security. There are thick mats to sleep on, showers, playpens for infants and aluminum blankets.

Porvaznik said there will be many people to watch the families and children. The number of families and children traveling unaccompanied has spiked over the last two years, although it’s dropped by almost half in the past few weeks, said Porvaznik.

“I think we were able to manage the process very well although we were at the breaking point, we were under-resourced. This humanitarian crisis has stretched our resources,” he added.

He said despite extra room, agents will continue to drop off some immigrant families to a local shelter.

The Border Patrol in Yuma had capacity for 400 people, but regularly went over that number as agents struggled to process the large number of people, most from Central American and many of them asylum seekers.

Nearly 11,000 families and 6,000 unaccompanied kids have crossed the Yuma sector since October, making it the third-busiest area in the Southwest.

McAleenan also spoke of the tragic image of a father and his toddler, drowned on the banks of the Rio Grande.

“The situation should not be acceptable to any of us,” he said of the deaths. “It should galvanize action and real debate … And yet here in Washington we have collectively failed to end this crisis. This is not on the men and women of DHS. They deserve better and so do the families of children.”

Categories: News | Top Stories | World
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.