According to a report from the Washington Times, 31,575 people were apprehended in January while attempting to cross, compared to 43,253 in December 2016. The number of undocumented immigrants at the ports of entry on the southern border also fell 28 percent, to 10,899.
The number of apprehensions made are typically seen as an indicator of overall flow. The logic is that the more people who are apprehended, the more people who also made it across undetected. Winter is generally a slower month, with far more illegal crossings occurring during warmer months.
“Overall total migration remained at elevated levels, primarily due to family units and unaccompanied children from Central America, Haitian nationals migrating from Brazil, and Cuban nationals,” CBP wrote in their report.
In 2016, less than half of those caught crossing the border illegally came from Mexico. Apprehensions of people coming from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador also declined.
“CBP continues to maintain a strong security posture through background checks of all individuals encountered and ensures that each person is processed in accordance with US immigration laws and DHS policy.”
A DHS memo ordered immigration agencies to take a hardline stance with undocumented immigrants by immediately identifying, detaining, and deporting anyone not carrying appropriate identification. The order also calls for the hiring of an additional 5,000 border agents and 10,000 ICE agents.
"Department personnel have full authority to arrest or apprehend an alien whom immigration officers have probable cause to believe is in violation of the immigration laws," according to a DHS memo. "They also have full authority to initiate removal proceedings against any alien who is subject to removal under any provision of the (Immigration and Nationality Act)."
Directions given to the agencies include placing those who have been convicted of crimes at the highest operational priority. Anyone caught illegally crossing the border is to be immediately detained.