McAleenan Says Arrests of Migrants on Border Expected to Decline by 25 Percent in June

WASHINGTON — Kevin McAleenan, the acting secretary of homeland security, said on Friday that arrests of migrants at the southwestern border are expected to decline by 25 percent in June.

He attributed the drop to Mexico sending security forces to crack down on undocumented immigrants crossing the border and the expansion of a Trump administration policy that forces migrants to wait in Mexico while their asylum cases are processed.

Mr. McAleenan, meeting with reporters to discuss the final passage of a $4.6 billion emergency border bill, said the decrease from May, when 144,200 migrants were taken into custody — the highest monthly total in 13 years — showed the deployment of the security forces and the policy known as “Remain in Mexico” are successfully deterring migration.

Mexico deployed the troops after President Trump threatened to impose tariffs on all imports coming from the country.

“In terms of when we’re going to know if these efforts in Mexico are making an impact, I think these three weeks are demonstrating they are already,” Mr. McAleenan said Friday at a news conference.

A spokesman for Customs and Border Protection declined to provide numbers for the month.

Mr. McAleenan also credited the decline in migration to the Migrant Protection Protocols, which have forced more than 11,000 asylum-seeking migrants to wait in Mexico while their cases are processed.

A union representing 2,500 Department of Homeland Security employees, including the asylum officers, said in a court filing this week that the policy violates international treaties. It is expected to expand and require migrants to wait in Tamaulipas, Mexico, where the State Department has barred travel for most government employees because of safety concerns.

Mr. Trump has also praised Mexico’s efforts to deter migration to the borders since June 7, when the two countries reached an agreement to reduce illegal immigration through Mexico and to the United States border. While the deployment of the security forces, including 2,000 members of Mexico’s national guard, was delayed, news of its role has also spread fear among undocumented immigrants and disrupted the flow of migration at the country’s southern border, where many cross into Mexico illegally on rafts.

Theresa Cardinal Brown, a former policy adviser at Customs and Border Protection, said it was too soon to determine whether the tough measures would have a longstanding effect because smugglers may have simply advised migrants to delay crossing the border. And migration has historically declined during the heat of June and July, according to immigration experts.

“We’re still sort of understanding what Mexico is doing, and we don’t have good data on their numbers or their seasonality trends,” Ms. Brown said. “I think it’s too soon to make a lot of month-to-month. I think we have to wait a little longer to see if it’s a blip or a trend.”

Mr. McAleenan on Friday sought to rebut allegations made by lawyers who interviewed detained migrants during a court-ordered visit to a border patrol facility in Clint, Tex. The lawyers said that children housed in overflowing detention facilities have gone unfed and unwashed at one of the facilities and instead blamed the news media for not covering the conditions this year.

“All of this received relatively little attention and little action until this past week on the Hill,” Mr. McAleenan said. “But unsubstantiated allegations regarding a single border patrol facility in Clint station in Texas created a sensation.”

He described the conditions in the Clint facility as “clean and well managed,” despite the group of lawyers saying children were housed with filthy clothes, dirty diapers and inadequate food.

“Contrary to the reporting, children in C.B.P. custody at the border are receiving access to these supplies, including toothbrushes, appropriate meals, blankets, showers as soon as they can be provided and medical screening,” Mr. McAleenan said.

Mr. McAleenan dodged a question of whether he supported an operation to conduct nationwide raids to deport roughly 2,000 family members that was planned for last week and that hard-line immigration officials have accused him of sabotaging.

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