The Department of Homeland Security released new data late Wednesday showing that illegal southern border crossings diminished in the opening weeks of the new Trump administration.
The new figures indicate "an unprecedented decline in traffic" in the month of February, according to a statement issued by Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.
"Since the Administration's implementation of Executive Orders to enforce immigration laws, apprehensions and inadmissible activity is trending toward the lowest monthly total in at least the last five years. This change in the trend line is especially significant because CBP historically sees a 10-20 percent increase in apprehensions of illegal immigrants from January to February. Instead, this year we saw a drop from 31,578 to 18,762 persons - a 40 percent decline."
Kelly said the numbers for January and February stand in contrast to the period from October 1, 2016, to Trump's inauguration — the final months of the Obama administration --when Customs and Border Protection reported apprehending 157,000 illegal immigrants. That's a 35 percent increase over fiscal year 2015, according to Kelly.
The statement goes on to say that "this trend is encouraging" because it means that fewer people are making the hazardous trek across the southern border.
The new data follows U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids that officials said were targeting "criminal aliens." There are persistent news reports that the raids have inspired fear at small businesses and in schools.