- - Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Over the past five months, according to the Department of Homeland Security, roughly 14,000 more illegal aliens have been deported or returned than the number that has arrived at the Southwest border. Yes, you read that right — more illegal immigrants are being sent back across the border than are coming into the United States, a sort of “reverse surge.” And what’s the cause of this remarkable phenomenon? Simple. It’s President Trump’s decision to reverse the previous policy known as “Catch and Release,” in which illegal immigrants apprehended at the border were released into the interior of the country to await their immigration court date – a trial to which many simply never showed up.

In other words, a policy decision by a man elected by the people to decide policy has led to a significant reduction in the number of illegal immigrants entering the United States.

Said Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, speaking last week to reporters, “The last five months, the number of those we remove have outpaced the number of those we encounter at the Southwest border … We are applying a consequence or a removal pathway to 95 percent of those we encounter.” Mr. Morgan characterized it as “the end of catch and release.”

A year ago at this time, federal law enforcement authorities at the Southwest border were grappling to deal with surges of illegal immigrants flowing north from the Central American “Triangle” countries. So-called caravans with illegal immigrants numbering into the thousands were trekking their way north, on foot, in buses, jumping on passing trains, and in whatever other modes of transportation they could muster.

Between January and February 2019, there was an increase of 39 percent, from 47,979 apprehensions to 66,883. Through the course of the spring, the numbers continued to swell, until hitting a peak of 144,116 in May 2019.

This year, the increase between January and February is only 3 percent, from 29,206 to 30,068.

But what is more remarkable than the significant reduction in the increase between January and February is the baseline numbers themselves — that is, if we just compare apprehensions in January 2019 to apprehensions in January 2020, we see a fall from 47,979 in January 2019 to just 29,206 in January 2020, a 39 percent reduction. And if we compare apprehensions in February 2019 to apprehensions in February 2020, we see a fall from 66,883 in February 2019 to just 30,068 in February 2020, a 56 percent reduction.

In other words, significantly fewer illegal immigrants are being apprehended trying to cross the southwest border this year than at this same time last year.

Is that because the Trump administration has decided to stop enforcing the law? Hardly. I visited the Port of San Ysidro last week, south of San Diego. It’s the busiest land port of entry in the United States, where 120,000 people per day enter the United States legally — with 34,000 of them entering on foot every day. That’s 5,000 people per hour, every hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

I met with the federal authorities responsible for enforcing immigration law, with representatives from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection.

They took my colleagues and me to various points along the border to see the new 30-foot-tall bollard walls that allow for better and easier enforcement. They showed us the high-traffic areas, where they know large numbers of illegal immigrants will attempt to cross the border.

And, perhaps most importantly, they explained how different policies yield different results. A simple decision — simple, but not painless — by the chief executive has dramatically changed the illegal immigration picture on the Southwest border.

Kudos to the president and those in his administration determined to keep his 2016 campaign promise to reduce illegal immigration into the United States significantly. They are to be commended for making the policy changes necessary to achieve their desired result, and for standing up to the critics in the Washington swamp who fight them every step of the way. They did not come to Washington simply to make noise; they came to make a difference. And they are.

• Jenny Beth Martin is the honorary chairman of Tea Party Patriots Action.

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