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Regional Partners Helping Mitigate Migrant Crisis

Members of the Border Patrol and U.S. military talk with migrants who illegally crossed the border between Mexico and the U.S. to request political asylum, as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, July 6, 2019.

August saw a precipitous decline in the number of people apprehended by the United States at its southwest border.

Regional Partners Helping Mitigate Migrant Crisis
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August saw a precipitous decline in the number of people apprehended by the United States at its southwest border. In August there was a 56 percent reduction from the peak in May: 64,000 in August from 144,000 in May.

U.S. Acting Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection Mark Morgan credited the reduction to an “unprecedented network” of initiatives put in place by the Trump administration, including regulatory reforms, policy changes, and interior enforcement efforts.

But he also cited “the meaningful and unprecedented steps” taken by the government of Mexico. So far this year, he noted, Mexico has apprehended approximately 134,000 people, a substantial increase from the 83,000 individuals it apprehended in 2018:

“In addition, since June, Mexico has deployed thousands of troops. They’ve created a new national guard within their country: 10,000 troops to the southern border; 15,000 troops to the northern border of the United States.”

Mr. Morgan also cited the positive role played by Mexico’s support for the Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP.The MPP is a U.S. government initiative that enables migrants to wait in Mexico while their asylum cases are adjudicated in the United States.While the asylum claims are under review, Mexico provides the claimants with appropriate humanitarian protections.

The MPP frees up the limited resources of the U.S. government agencies that implement the asylum system, allowing a more careful review of all applications, especially those presenting a potentially legitimate, merit-based claim. As per international law and norm, asylum claimants must establish that they have a credible fear of political persecution in their home country, based on one or more of the five protected categories: race, nationality, religion, political opinion, or membership of a particular social group.

The governments of Central American countries have stepped up efforts to stem the surge of illegal migrants crossing the southwest border, as well. “In particular,” Acting Commissioner Morgan said, “the Northern Triangle countries, along with Mexico, have really joined the United States as true partners for the first time.” They are recognizing “that this is not just a United States problem, that this is a regional crisis that needs regional support and regional solutions.”

Acting Commissioner Morgan noted that, while Mexico and the governments of the Northern Triangle have stepped up as partners, they must not only sustain their current efforts, but expand them.

He warned, however, that the United States cannot rely solely on foreign partners to solve the “pull factors” created by the broken U.S. immigration system. It is imperative that U.S. laws be changed. “Congress,” Mr. Morgan said, “must absolutely act to pass meaningful legislation to address the loopholes in our current system, if we’re going to have a durable, lasting solution to this crisis.”