Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly indicated on Wednesday that President Donald Trump's immigration policies led to a five-year low in illegal, southern border crossings.
Authorities saw a 40 percent decline in apprehensions of illegal immigrants from January to February, a time period that historically holds a 10 to 20 percent increase in apprehensions, according to Customs and Border Protection.
Kelly suggested in a DHS statement that Trump's executive orders related to immigration enforcement prompted the decrease of illegal immigrants coming into the country.
"Since the Administration’s implementation of Executive Orders to enforce immigration laws, apprehensions and inadmissible activity is trending toward the lowest monthly total in at least the last five years," Kelly said.
The number of apprehensions, an indicator for illegal immigration levels, dropped from 31,578 to 18,762 in February. The drop came after a 35 percent increase of illegal immigrants crossing the border between Oct. 1, 2016 and Trump's January inauguration.
Kelly said the drop in apprehensions was "encouraging" because it meant "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."
Trump signaled during his 2016 presidential campaign and shortly after he took office that his administration would increase immigration enforcement.
Trump signed an executive order promising to build a wall along the southern border and enhance border security in January, according to The Washington Times. Trump's order requested 10,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and 5,000 U.S. Border Patrol agents.
The order also repealed Obama-era protections for many illegal immigrants and expanded border agents' powers to enforce immigration law.