Photo: Unaccompanied minors
The number of unaccompanied undocumented children apprehended on the southern border of the United States dropped in July to 5,508, compared with more than 10,000 in both May and June, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said.
DHS said it was the first time this year that the number has been lower than in the previous month.
“While the decrease in apprehensions in July is good news and reflects a positive trend that we hope continues, the current numbers are still higher than the number of apprehensions for children and adults with children during past years,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said.
Since October, almost 63,000 children, most of them from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, have been caught trying to cross unaccompanied into the U.S., which has caused a humanitarian crisis beyond federal agencies’ capacity to deal with it.
The number of minors taken into custody was 7,176 in March, 7,702 in April, 10,579 in May, and 10,628 in June, according to DHS figures.
Johnson repeated the message of the U.S. government that “our border is not open to illegal migration.”
“Unless you qualify for some form of humanitarian relief, we will send you back consistent with our laws and values,” the secretary said.
President Barack Obama asked Congress for $3.7 billion in special funds to manage the situation, but lawmakers departed for their summer recess without approving the financing.
“I was disappointed that Congress left for its August recess without acting on the President’s request for supplemental funding to support the men and women of this department who have worked overtime to respond to the urgent situation,” Johnson said.
“In the meantime, to avoid running out of money, I have been left with no choice but to reprogram money away from other homeland security missions,” he said.
DHS is diverting $405 million from other tasks “to support the response to this situation,” the secretary said.