- The Washington Times - Monday, September 9, 2019

Illegal immigration at the southern U.S. border dropped by roughly 20 percent from July to August, the U.S. border chief said Monday, attributing the decrease to White House’s “incredible” efforts and “unprecedented” steps by the government of Mexico.

Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, said border patrol nabbed 66,000 people at the border last month, down from 82,000 in July and a sharp drop from a peak of over 140,000 in May.

“Why do we see in 90 days a 56 percent reduction? The president has made it very clear that he’s going to use every tool available to him and his administration to address this crisis at the southern border,” he said from the White House briefing room.

U.S. officials said the reduction is in large part due to Mexico, which after threats by Mr. Trump increased its own enforcement at its southern and northern borders.

Mr. Morgan said Mexico has “stepped up” as a great partner, even dispatching a national guard division for border security.

He said numbers could improve, however.

“We need them to do more,” Mr. Morgan said. “We need Mexico to do more.”

He acknowledged that illegal border crossings often drop in warmer seasons, but said the recent decreases are far higher than what’s typical.

“It has nothing to do with seasonal trends,” he said.

Mr. Morgan said it’s difficult to quantify how much of a drop he needs to see before the administration declares an end to the border “emergency.”

“If I could see around 500 [apprehensions] a day, that’s manageable,” he said. “Would I say that’s the magic number? The magic number is zero, but we have to be realistic.”

Mr. Morgan also said U.S. officials universally support Mr. Trump’s push to build a wall at the border, saying “it works” and that the president will continue construction.

“This is not a vanity project,” Mr. Morgan said.

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