- The Washington Times - Friday, July 7, 2017

Illegal immigration across the Southwest border rose yet again in June, according to the latest Homeland Security figures released Friday that show a noticeable jump over the last two months.

Border Patrol agents nabbed 16,089 illegal immigrants trying to sneak in, while Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers identified another 5,570 illegal immigrants who showed up without authorization at the ports of entry.

The combined 21,659 illegal immigrants are still the lowest numbers for June in years, but the spike is worrisome because illegal immigration generally begins to slow in the summer months. Indeed, the last four years saw an average drop of 10 percent in Border Patrol apprehensions in June — but this year saw an 11 percent rise.

The number of illegal immigrant children and families also rose sharply. Unaccompanied children spiked 31 percent in June compared to May, and the total number of people coming as families shot up a stunning 47 percent last month.

The numbers could end up spurring action on President Trump’s border wall, which had been attacked as unnecessary earlier this year as the numbers of those attempting to cross the border plunged to 40-year lows.

Experts say the number of people caught is a rough yardstick of how many people are trying to cross, so a rise in apprehensions signals a rise in the overall level of illegal immigration.

CBP acknowledged the increase but said the numbers are still well below where they were during the latter years of the Obama administration.

“These numbers represent a 53 percent decrease as compared to June of 2016,” the agency said.

Officials did not offer an explanation for the spike, which now has spanned two months.

Even as the number of unaccompanied children spikes, officials do appear to have solved the surge of illegal immigrant Haitians and Cubans who had poured into the U.S. in 2016.

Enticed by lax enforcement, nearly 3,500 Haitians showed up without permission at U.S. ports of entry in October demanding entry. As of June, that had dropped to just 26.

Cubans, who numbered more than 4,000 in October, dropped to fewer than 200 in June.

Part of the change in the flow of Cubans was a new directive in the waning days of the Obama administration that revoked the “wet-foot/dry-foot” policy that had granted most Cubans able to reach U.S. soil a quick parole into the country.

After the change, Cubans are now subject to deportation.

The Trump administration convened a summit in Florida last month with leaders of Mexico and Central American countries, hoping to try to create a regional push to stem the flow of people and drugs making their way up from the south through Mexico and into the U.S.

Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly was in Mexico Wednesday through Friday working with that country’s leaders, and insisting the two nations are good partners.

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump on Friday met Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Germany.

The Mexican leader said they would be speaking about borders and “migration issues, which have occupied both of our administrations.” As for Mr. Trump, asked by a reporter whether he still expects Mexico to pay for his border wall plans, he was unequivocal: “Absolutely.”

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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