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A U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine agent's patch is seen as he patrols patrol near the Texas-Mexico border , Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015, in Rio Grande City, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Illegal border crossings fell 40 percent during Trump's first full month in office


According to Customs and Border Protection, there was a 40 percent drop in illegal Southwest border crossings from January to February. Is this a sign that President Trump's tough immigration policies are having an impact? 

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly announced the month-to-month statistics that the CBP usually only posts on its website.

February was outside typical trends; usually, there's an increase of 10 to 20 percent from January to February, and the decrease breaks a 20-year progression. The number of individuals apprehended at the border was 18,762 in February, down from 31,578 in January. But it will take a number of months to fully understand the decrease. 

"Firmness pays," said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which supports restricting U.S. immigration. 

"Trump's tough talk tells you all you need to know," Stein said. "It's the language people understand. It's obviously the language people on the other side of this issue dislike, but... it's a sad fact, but people try to game the system. There's a huge amount of demand to try to live in a country like the United States.

"In the end, the only way you can make sure everybody plays the rules and ensure fairness is by making sure no one can jump the line, so tough talk, making sure that anyone, smuggler, alien, that they get it," Stein said.

"This is encouraging news," Kelly said of the decrease in border crossings, citing the increase in apprehensions between October and the end of last year. "Since President Trump took office on January 20, we have seen a dramatic drop in numbers."

Smugglers called 'coyotes' are charging fees of $3,500 to $8,000 to take individuals to the border.   

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

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