In a place where just a few feet of water separates Mexico and the United States, many illegal immigrants in the past, mostly single men from Mexico, have taken advantage of the geography at this spot to scramble across the border. It’s ideal for smugglers as well. A narrow crossing with plenty of bushes to hide in. However, it seems things have now changed.

Here, at Laredo, at the Rio Grande narrows, Fox News took a reconnaissance trip with Border Patrol members on an airboat to look for trouble spots. Surprisingly, they didn’t find any.

Honduran migrants watch from the Mexican side of the Rio Grande as they wait for a good moment to cross the river into the United States from the border city of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, in this May 25, 2006 file photo. (Dario Lopez-Mills/AP Photo, File)

Sector Chief Patrol Agent Felix Chavez said the number of illegals crossing in the area is significantly down in the heat of summer, compared to milder weather in the spring. He said a Trump administration initiative announced in May is having an effect. The initiative was—that tariffs would be imposed on Mexico by June 10 if it did not assist in stemming the flow of illegals. A deal was reached before the deadline, and Mexico took the “unprecedented steps” of increasing troops and deploying the National Guard to the border.

“We’ve been monitoring the apprehension numbers closely, specifically going back 70 days before June 10 and 70 days after June 10,” Chavez told Fox News. “And what we’ve seen here in the Laredo Sector is a reduction of 30 percent in our apprehension numbers. In the southwest, border-wide numbers are down 38 percent.”


Border Patrol agents apprehended the largest group of 424 illegal aliens in Sunland Park, NM. (Photo: Twitter/CBP)

The  Migration Protection Protocol also known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy, began in January in California. Asylum applicants are being returned to Mexico to have their application assessed. That program was also expanded in March.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) acting Director Ken Cuccinelli is at the border this week, to see firsthand the enormity of the problem.

“Much like yesterday when we viewed the ‘Remain in Mexico’ courtrooms that are being put up, it’s really just a granular understanding of how things are working on the ground as opposed to how we all talk about it on paper in Washington,” Cuccinelli told Fox News.

Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) said the figures are encouraging, with 82,049 people apprehended in July—down 21 percent from June figures of 104,344, and also down 43 percent from May. The number of families and children attempting to cross the border has also dropped.

Cuccinelli praised President Trump’s efforts to gain cooperation from Mexico, “Integration in the region—not just here in the U.S. and in Mexico but in the Northern Triangle as well and beyond—is coming together slowly but surely to help all of us work together to have the tools to keep driving down the raw numbers that have really created the crisis on our southern border,” he said.

“Here they were swamped in May, we’re still at crisis numbers, but it seems so low compared to May and those crossings and apprehensions continue on a genuine downward decline,” he told reporters.