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Mexico is apprehending more migrants. Is it because of Trump?

Posted at 8:46 PM, Apr 05, 2019

In a press gaggle before heading off to California to boast of his new-but-not-new wall on Friday President Donald Trump said that Mexico had recently increased its apprehension of migrants in response to his threat of shutting down the US southern border.

"Mexico has been absolutely terrific in the past four days." Trump said. "They're apprehending everybody. Yesterday they apprehended 1,400 people. The day before it was a thousand. And if they apprehend people at their southern border, that's a big home run."

Facts first: While CNN could not verify Trump's claims of the last two days, the apprehension rate in Mexico did see a recent increase over the first two days of April. It's unclear whether that increase is a result of more migrants coming through Mexico, or of the Mexican government stepping up its efforts.

During an April 4 radio interview , Tonatiuh Guillén, commissioner of Mexico's National Migration Institute, said that during the first two days of April, Mexican immigration agents apprehended 1,259 undocumented immigrants. If that number were to stay consistent throughout the month, apprehensions would hit 18,885 during April.

Mexican authorities apprehended 12,746 migrants during the whole month of March, Guillén said. That's up from 9,894 apprehensions in February, according to Guillén, and about 7,500 in January.

Guillén noted these numbers are similar to monthly figures from 2018 and are much higher than in 2017. Guillén said that Mexico has seen a spike in families of migrants traveling through the country, particularly women and children. He estimated that an average of 350,000 Central Americans cross Mexico each year.

A DHS official tells CNN that Mexico has recently been apprehending as high as 1,000 migrants a day and removing 700. DHS says this is double the levels of last week

Though most immigration experts say it's unclear what's leading to this spike in apprehensions.

"It's too early for us to see," Associate Policy Analyst at the Migration Policy Institute Ariel G. Ruiz Soto told CNN.

Ruiz Soto said that the picture may become clearer when solid facts and data are available for April.

"Changes in April will be key in understanding any significant change in Mexico's migration enforcement," Ruiz Soto said.

If Mexico has indeed upped its apprehension efforts, it is unclear how sustainable that is. "We're not sure what their capacity is to do much more," said Andrew Seele, president of the Migration Policy Institute.

"They haven't invested in a modern immigration agency," Seele said, before noting that the new government has prioritized doing so.

Trump's previous insinuation that Mexico has not apprehended "large numbers of people" is not born out by the facts. According to a Rice University study, "Mexico has deported more than half a million Central Americans, even surpassing US deportation figures in some years" since 2014.