U.S. Customs and Border Protection's recent illegal border crossing data shows a stark decrease in traffic since the start of the years.
"We have seen the drops and flows probably in the past 35 years," retired CBP Chief Victor Manjarrez said.
From January to February, the flow of illegal border crossings as measured by apprehensions and the prevention of inadmissible persons at the southern border dropped by 40 percent.
CBP said the marked change is trending toward the lowest monthly total in at least five years, since the administration's implementation of executive orders to enforce immigration laws, apprehensions and inadmissible activity.
Officials said CBP historically sees a 10-20 percent increase in apprehensions of illegal immigrants from January to February. Instead, this year CBP saw a drop from 31,778 to 18,762 persons - a 40 percent decline.
Recording the number of apprehensions of illegal immigrants from Oct 1, 2016 to the Presidential inauguration, the agency reported 157,000, a 35 percent increase over the previous fiscal year, with family units increasing by more than 100 percent. However, since President Donald Trump took office on Jan. 20, CBP has seen a dramatic drop in numbers.
The agency said the decrease is encouraging news because it means 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.
Although numbers are down, CPB is seeing an increase in the El Paso sector for unaccompanied alien children. There has been a 137 percent increase from fiscal year 2016 to fiscal year 2017 year to date.
"Field operations are paying attention to it," Manjarrez said. "They are not hitting the panic button yet, but they are looking for something that happened."
Although there is a stark increase, he is not concerned.
"When you look at the unaccompanied aliens across the southwest border this is one of the lower rates at this point," Manjarrez said. "That is three more a day."
If they are capture they are sent back to the country they came from. However, if the child is alone,
I have never seen in my career where they say 'hey turn around. Good luck' - I don't think that has changed."
CBP is seeing an increase in the fees charged by human smugglers along the U.S. southwest border. Since November 2016, "coyotes" have hiked their fees in some areas by roughly 130 percent - from $3,500 to $8,000 in certain mountainous regions. Changes in U.S. policy, including the detention of apprehended aliens, drive up the smuggling fees.