Migrant crossings at the southern border have decreased more than 40% since December and have remained stable through the first four months of 2024 AFP

As crossings of the U.S.-Mexico border show a drastic dip since December, the Biden campaign can use the data point as a breath of fresh air on an issue regarded as a liability on his reelection bid, The Washington Post reported.

Migrants crossing the southern border have decreased more than 40% since December and have remained relatively stable through the first four months of 2024. In April, U.S. border agents encountered about 130,000 migrants entering illegally from Mexico, a level that is high by historical standards but lower than February and March, according to U.S. enforcement data obtained by The Post.

Migrant encounters by U.S. Border Patrol agents usually increase in the spring, when seasonal hiring picks up. But that did not happen this year for the first time since Biden took office.

"This spring has been an anomaly," said Adam Isacson, a border security analyst who tracks monthly enforcement data at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), a D.C.-based advocacy group. "It's gotten much, much harder for migrants to make it to the U.S. border."

Isacson also pointed out that the only other time this century that crossings declined during springtime months was 2017, after Trump took office promising to deport millions.

One of the primarily cited reasons for this decline is Mexico's recently launched operation to reduce crossings. At the request of the U.S., the country is using military patrols and highway checkpoints, intercepting roughly 8,000 U.S.-bound migrants per day, according to officials from both countries.

Former president and presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump continues to criticize the current administration's handling of the issue at campaign rallies. But the recent decline in encounters has eased some of the pressure on the president to announce harsher enforcement measures, which could anger some Democrats, The Post argues.

But regardless of the recent relative quiet at the southern border, U.S officials say the next several weeks will be a key test. The number of migrants stopped by Mexican authorities in recent months far exceeds the number Mexico has deported, indicating there may be hundreds of thousands biding time until the crackdown fades, according to The Post.

"The real question is when does the dam burst in Mexico?" Isacson said.

In fact, signs of a potential crack can already be found in the San Diego area, where smuggles have been sending more and more groups of migrants from South America and Asia to cross through the mountains. In recent weeks, the San Diego sector of U.S. Customs and Border Protection has surpassed others in Arizona and Texas to become the busiest along the southern border for the first time in 1997.

The Biden administration is allowing nearly 1,500 migrants per day to make appointments to go to a U.S. border crossing using a government mobile app, CBP One, and start the process of applying for U.S. humanitarian protection. But the process can take months, leading migrants to cross illegally anyway as some of them "feared for their safety in Mexico," The Post reports.

As the U.S. general elections near in November, U.S. officials also report being concerned for a potential surge in illegal crossings later this year, as they saw this trend happening in late 2016 when smugglers pushed migrants to make the pilgrimage to the U.S. border, urging them to cross ahead of a Trump crackdown.

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.