SAN LUIS RIO COLORADO, Mexico – The arrival of National Guard troops in Arizona has scared off illegal Mexican migrants along the border, significantly reducing crossings, according to U.S. and Mexican officials.
U.S. authorities said Monday that detentions along the U.S.-Mexico border decreased by 21 percent, to 26,994, in the first 10 days of June, compared with 34,077 for the same period a year ago.
Along the Arizona border, once the busiest crossing spot, detentions have dropped 23 percent, according to the U.S. Border Patrol.
Detentions dropped 31 percent, to 8,308 from 11,977, along the Texas and New Mexico border.
The desert region’s blistering June temperatures typically drive down the number of migrants, but not so drastically, said Mario Martinez, a spokesman with the U.S. Border Patrol in Washington, D.C.
The 55 Utah soldiers who arrived June 3 are the first of about 6,000 troops to be dispatched along the border as part of President Bush’s plan to stem illegal immigration to the United States.
The soldiers aren’t allowed to detain migrants and have been limited to projects like extending border fences and repairing roads, but the military’s presence is keeping would-be crossers away from the area, migrant rights activists said.
Some migrants may be moving to the California-Mexico border, the only stretch of border that saw a spike in detentions, which were up 7 percent to 5,965 in the first 10 days of June.