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U.S. Border Arrests Decline Despite Tighter Controls in Mexico: NPR

Migrants wait between the border walls separating Tijuana, Mexico and San Diego, to seek asylum from U.S. authorities on Friday.

Grégory Bull/AP

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Grégory Bull/AP

Migrants wait between the border walls separating Tijuana, Mexico and San Diego, to seek asylum from U.S. authorities on Friday.

Grégory Bull/AP

WASHINGTON — Arrests for illegally crossing the U.S. border fell slightly in March, authorities said Friday, in contrast to a usual spring increase amid tightened immigration controls in Mexico.

The Border Patrol made 137,480 arrests of people entering from Mexico, down 2.3% from February’s 140,638 arrests, the first time since 2017 that arrests declined in March from the previous month . Crossings generally increase as temperatures warm.

Mexico arrested migrants 240,000 times in the first two months of the year, more than triple compared to the same period in 2023, sending many more south of the country to discourage them from coming to the United States . Although Mexico has not released figures for March, U.S. officials have said Mexican law enforcement is largely responsible for the recent declines.

“Incidents at our southern border are currently fewer, but we remain prepared for change, continually managing our operations to respond to transnational criminal activity and ever-changing migration patterns,” said Acting Customs and Immigration Commissioner Troy Miller. of protecting the borders of the United States.

The number of arrests in March is one of the lowest in Joe Biden’s presidency after a record of nearly 250,000 in December. Even though conditions are changing rapidly, the decline is good news for the White House at a time when immigration has become a top concern among voters in an election year. Biden said this month he was still considering executive action to suspend asylum at the border if crossings reach a certain threshold.

Tucson, Arizona, was again the busiest of the Border Patrol’s nine sectors on the Mexican border in March, a position it has held since the summer, followed by San Diego and El Paso, Texas. Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, the busiest illegal smuggling corridor for much of the past decade, ranks fifth, a testament to how quickly routes are changing.

The arrest tally excludes new and expanded avenues for legally entering the country under presidential powers, known as parole, that allow people to stay temporarily and apply for work permits.

U.S. authorities allowed entry to 44,000 people at land crossings with Mexico in March through an online appointment system, CBP One. More than 547,000 people have been allowed into the country through CBP One since its introduction in January, led by Venezuelans, Haitians and Mexicans.

More than 400,000 people from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela were allowed to enter the United States through March after applying online with a financial sponsor and arriving at an airport and having paid for their trip.

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