A top border expert said Tuesday that illegal border crossings since President Trump took office have been cut 67 percent.
Former Border Patrol chief David Aguilar revealed the new numbers at a Senate hearing. Previous reports said that the crossings had been cut 40 percent.
At a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing focused on building the wall, Montana Sen. Steve Daines pointed to a recent Border Patrol press release about the 40 percent drop, when Aguilar noted the changes.
“Let me just update that March 8” release, he said, “as of the 31st of March, five days ago, whatever it is, it’s actually up to a 67 percent drop compared to last year.”
Aguilar, the former acting director of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, credited Trump and his tough anti-illegal immigrant talk, saying results occur “when the U.S. stands strong and takes certain action, substantive action.”
At the hearing, the committee chairman who will oversee construction of President Trump’s border wall also set a price at just $5-$8 billion.
Sen. Ron Johnson said the estimate is based on current costs and the price Israel recently paid for its southern fence, revealed to him during a trip to the Jewish State late last year.
In his first of two hearings this week on the wall, Johnson used Israel’s average price of $2.9 million a mile for his estimate. He added in about $1 million per mile for land purchases highlighted by committee Democrats.
“So tack on $1 million to $2.9 million and the total cost to 2,000 mile wall, and I don’t anybody here in this hearing room … is suggesting 2,000 miles. We’re looking at the right kind of fencing, the right place, but even that would be less than $8 billion, somewhere between $5 billion and $8 billion,” said Johnson.
He noted that there are about 650 miles already built and other areas where constructing a wall is difficult that will be watched with technology such as drones.
Some estimates have reached $40 billion. The Department of Homeland Security is currently drawing up their plans and cost estimates.
The administration has proposed a $1.6 billion initial fund. The president promised to make Mexico pay for the wall, but the funding for now is coming from taxpayers.
Democrats at the hearing pushed for technology to be featured and two former Border Patrol officials agreed that technology is a top priority.
“It is how you put that package together,” said Aguilar.