Just five people were eating dinner on a recent weeknight at a Texas church that is a stopping point for newly arrived immigrants on the U.S.-Mexico border. On a typical night last year, hundreds of immigrants might come through the church.
Immigrants who are still coming say many people in their home countries are staying home amid fears about President Donald Trump's immigration rhetoric, putting off coming to the U.S. until they see how his policies play out.
"There are mothers who heard that Trump might change the law to remove parents and keep the children here," said Jose Gonzalez, a 29-year-old father of two from El Salvador. "That stopped a lot of people."
The first months of the new administration have seen a huge drop in the number of people being caught by agents on the U.S.-Mexico border, raising the possibility that a "Trump effect" is keeping migrants away.
Fewer than 12,500 people were caught at the southern border in March, the lowest monthly figure in at least 17 years and the second straight month that border arrests dropped sharply. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, in testimony submitted to a Senate committee, called the decline "no accident" and credited Trump.
But those working in shelters and experts on migration say it will take several more months to judge whether any drop-off is lasting, and that the numbers could surge again as quickly as they've fallen.
Trump's vows to step up deportations and build his signature border wall were widely spread in Central America, according to three migrants who recently arrived in Texas and spoke to the Associated Press. Kelly also announced last month that authorities might start separating adults and children crossing the border, to deter families from trying to enter the U.S.
For years, tens of thousands of migrants every month would cross the United States' southern border. Traffic has surged in recent years of people crossing into Texas from three Central American countries torn by gang violence and poverty: El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
Former President Barack Obama's administration also publicized deportations and tried to dissuade Central Americans from heading north, particularly during the 2014 surge of families and children traveling alone to cross the border. Officials took credit when border arrests fell during his tenure, only to see the numbers rise again.
Some think the real "Trump effect" was pushing fearful people to move up their journeys and get to the U.S. before he took office. Border arrests in October, November and December increased by about a third compared to the same period in 2015, before falling this year.
"The election and the possibility that the wall, everything was going to happen, encouraged them to come now," said Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, which operates the shelter at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen.
Trump focused on the constant flow of migrants from the start of his campaign, when he denounced border crossers as criminals and rapists, and repeatedly promised to build a wall and step up deportations. His administration has started taking bids to build a wall and requested funding for more immigration judges and Border Patrol agents.