FILE PHOTO: Migrant men sit on the ground after being detained by law enforcement for illegally crossing the Rio Grande and attempting to evade capture in Hidalgo, Texas, U.S., August 23, 2019. REUTERS/Loren Elliott/File Photo
EL PASO, Texas (Reuters) – U.S. border officials apprehended or rejected 970,000 people at or near the border with Mexico in the year through September, an 88% jump from a year earlier, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan said on Tuesday.
Still, those numbers have dropped recently, falling to 52,000 in September, the lowest monthly total for the year, Morgan said at a news briefing in front of the border barrier in El Paso, Texas.
The September apprehensions and rejections are down from a monthly peak of 144,255 in May.
Migration tends to taper off during the hot summer months, but U.S. officials and immigrant advocates say a series of strict immigration policies rolled out by the Trump administration have also contributed to the drop since May.
President Donald Trump has made restricting immigration a centerpiece of his first term and his 2020 re-election campaign.
U.S. officials have sought to curtail the number of asylum seekers, mostly from the impoverished and violent Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, claiming most of them present fraudulent accounts about being persecuted back home.
Only about 15% of Central Americans who have made asylum claims in recent years have been granted some type of relief or protection from U.S. immigration judges, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Reporting by Julio-Cesar Chavez; Writing by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Bernadette Baum