18,762 Illegal Border Crossings in February, 40% Drop From January’s 31,578

By Susan Jones | March 9, 2017 | 9:21 AM EST

The Trump administration begins with "a marked change” in immigration trends, as fewer people are trying to sneak in, Customs and Border Protection said on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. (AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - U.S. Customs and Border Protection is hailing “a marked change” in immigration trends – a 40-percent decline in illegal border crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border between January and February; and a 55-percent decline in “inadmissibles,” who present themselves at Southwest ports of entry but are turned away.

President Trump campaigned on a promise to slow illegal immigration, and he issued two executive orders boosting immigration enforcement on Jan. 25, five days after his inauguration.

In February, a total of 18,762 individuals were apprehended between ports of entry on the Southwest Border, compared with 31,578 in January (a 40.58-percent drop) and 43,255 in December,” CBP said.

Also in February, a total of 4,808 people presented themselves at ports of entry on the Southwest Border and were deemed inadmissible, compared with 10,899 in January (a 55.88 percent drop) and 15,176 in December. 

CBP said the recent drop in illegal border crossings is “encouraging” because it means “fewer people are putting themselves and their families at risk of exploitation, assault and injury by human traffickers and the physical dangers of the treacherous journey north.

CBP also noted that recent changes in immigration policy have prompted human smugglers to increase their fees for taking people to the U.S. border.

“As directed in my memoranda implementing the President’s executive orders, we remain committed to carrying out fair, impartial and humane enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws,” Homeland Security Secretary Jack Kelly said in a news release.

“We will remain vigilant to respond to any changes in these trends, as numbers of illegal crossings typically increase between March and May. However, the early results show that enforcement matters, deterrence matters, and that comprehensive immigration enforcement can make an impact.”

Appearing on C-SPAN Thursday morning, Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) said a border wall, by itself, "is not going to work" when it comes to controlling illegal immigration. "They come over it, around it, under it, through it, so the idea that we can cure it with just that is just a mistake."

Pearce said there are places where walls do work, but he said out in the wide-open expanses, drones and other technology are more effective in spotting illegal aliens.

Pearce also called for a "culture change" inside CBP's upper management levels.

Pearce noted that President Trump signed two executive orders on Jan. 25 that for the first time will allow federal border agents to pursue illegal aliens onto Indian reservations and wilderness study areas, and other areas that have been off limits to them until now.

"The Organ Pipes National Monument on the Arizona southern border was just a wide-open way to cross through, because Border Patrol agents were not allowed to go into that area." The congressman said Trump has "changed that one cultural piece."

"The second was, agents were told to catch and release. That's another cultural thing that was not in keeping with the law, it was just the practice that was generated from very high levels of Border Patrol, so that's the cultural shift that I'm saying we're going to have to have, and we're beginning to see that right now."