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Washington (AFP) — The number of unaccompanied children illegally entering the United States at its southern border fell by half from June to July, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

In a statement, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said the number of children arriving without adult accompaniment was 10,628 in June, but fell to 5,508 in July.

An even more sizeable decline was seen in the number of adults arriving in the United States accompanied by children, which fell from 16,330 to 7,410 during the same time period. Johnson praised increased U.S. vigilance at its border with Mexico for the declining numbers of undocumented migrants.

“We have surged resources and put in place an aggressive campaign to counter the rise of illegal migration into the Rio Grande Valley,” he said in a statement.

“We have dramatically reduced the removal time for many unaccompanied adults from about 33 to four days,” Johnson said.

“We have increased the number of flights to repatriate people back to Central America,” he said.

He also said the United States has constructed additional holding facilities that can accommodate both adults and children

But Johnson said his department is rapidly running out of money to deal with the border crisis, and has had to take $405 million from other programs within his department to address it.

He blamed the shortfall on the U.S. Congress, which last week departed for its summer holiday without voting on providing additional funds for the border crisis.

“Given Congress’ failure to act, the department is left with no good choices,” Johnson said.

AFP Photo/John Moore

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