Oct. 8 (UPI) -- Illegal crossings between May and October at the U.S.-Mexico border declined by 65 percent and the number of detained migrants fell by 15,000, acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan said Tuesday.
Morgan told reporters at the White House of the figures, saying the number of detained migrants started at 19,000 and declined to less than 4,000 over that five-month period.
For fiscal 2019, however, more than 850,000 undocumented migrants were detained -- the highest figure in more than a decade. The fiscal year ended Sept. 30.
There were 52,000 law enforcement actions last month against migrants at the border, down from 144,000 in May, he noted -- adding that September marked the fourth straight month of decline.
Morgan said 71 miles of new border wall systems have been built that feature new lighting, technology and access roads. By the end of 2020, there will be 450 miles of new border wall to replace outdated and dilapidated infrastructure, he said.
"This president, this administration is doing exactly what he promised the American people," the CBP chief said. "We still need Congress to pass meaningful legislation to address our broken framework when it comes to immigration."
"If you come to our borders now with a child, it's no longer an immediate passport into the interior of the United States. We're closing the loopholes and diminishing the smuggler organization's ability to profit on the back of these migrants while simultaneously exploiting our partners."
Morgan called cutting the number of crossings through enforcement an "unprecedented achievement," and credited Mexico for accommodating migrants who await hearings in the United States.
He also touched on the detention of child migrants at border facilities, saying they were never designed to hold children -- but were forced to do so because smugglers began promising migrants U.S. entry if they brought a child.
"They were designed as police stations," Morgan said. "Because of the new demographic of families and children, those resources became strained and our limited resources had to be diverted from their law enforcement duties -- securing the border -- to address the humanitarian crisis. Make no mistake: Our country is less safe because of it."