President Donald Trump’s tough stance on immigration might be discouraging some people from coming to the United States but families and children seeking asylum keep coming in record numbers and are now facing higher fees and almost certain incarceration after they are caught at the border, according to officials.

President Donald Trump’s tough stance on immigration might be discouraging some people from coming to the United States but families and children seeking asylum keep coming in record numbers and are now facing higher fees and almost certain incarceration after they are caught at the border, according to officials.

More than 186,000 people have been apprehended across the southwest border so far this fiscal year (Oct. 1 to Feb. 28) compared to 152,000 at the same time last year.

The biggest drop in apprehensions was in February with about 18,700 compared to more than 31,000 the month before. Apprehensions have not dropped below the 19,000 mark since December of 2011, but apprehensions for the month of February have not been this low since before 2006, CBP data shows.

“Since the Administration’s implementation of executive orders to enforce immigration laws, apprehensions and inadmissible activity is trending toward the lowest monthly total in at least the last five years,” reads a statement from Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly posted on their website along with the latest data. “The decrease is also encouraging news because it means many 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.”

The Rio Grande Valley continues to be the number one destination for most of these people with 50 percent of all apprehensions across the southwest border so far this fiscal year. About 59 percent, or more than 56,000 people apprehended in the Rio Grande sector so far this fiscal year were family units or unaccompanied minors.

This number went up by more than 11 percent compared to the same time last year. The same 11 percent increase in family units and unaccompanied minors was reflected nationwide, according to the latest CBP data.

Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of the Humanitarian Respite Center at Sacred Heart Church, said Saturday that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been holding the families in detention centers instead of processing them and releasing them here in McAllen, as they had been since 2014. The average number of families processed as the center dropped from about 300 at the end of 2016 to about 30 in the last two months.

“Right now, as you see, there are not a lot of immigrants because of a recent change in policy,” Pimentel told House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi during her visit Saturday to the Rio Grande Valley. “They are being held in detention, and it’s concerning because it hurts to see these mothers and their children in the conditions that they arrive here, and it’s important for us to have the opportunity to take care of them.”

Additionally, human smugglers along the U.S. southwest border have been raising their fees in some areas by roughly 130 percent — from $3,500 to $8,000 in certain mountainous regions, according to Kelly’s online statement.

“Changes in U.S. policy, including the detention of apprehended aliens, drive up the smuggling fees,” reads Kelly’s statement. “As directed in my memoranda implementing the President’s executive orders, we remain committed to carrying out fair, impartial and humane enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws.”

But Pelosi expressed concern Saturday about an “inhumane” policy Kelly said he is considering that would separate immigrant children from their mothers after they are apprehended at the border.

“As a mother of five children and as a grandmother, I can’t even imagine how anybody can think that this is a policy … I mean it’s so inhumane,” Pelosi said. “I’m hoping it doesn’t happen but I have asked those questions of the administration and they have told me they know how to take care of children, they can take them from their mothers and put them in foster homes or other facilities.”

Reuters first reported that the Trump administration was considering separating parents and children at the Mexico border. And during a later interview with CNN, Kelly confirmed the reports.

“Yes I’m considering (that), in order to deter more movement along this terribly dangerous network. I am considering exactly that. They will be well cared for as we deal with their parents. … It’s more important to me to try to keep people off of this awful network,” Kelly said, referring to the network of organized crime that smuggles these migrants.

He also said they would turn the children over to Health and Human Services who, “…do a very, very good job of putting them in foster care or linking them up with parents or family members in the United States.”