Crossing The Border Illegally Is Harder Than Its Been In 50 Years
Improved security has made it harder than ever to illegally cross into the U.S. from Mexico, and Border Patrol agents are catching a higher percentage of those who try, according to a new report from the Department of Homeland Security.
The report from the DHS Office of Immigration Statistics used arrest and migrant survey data to arrive at estimates on a wide range of border security metrics, including apprehension and deterrence rates, the annual number of illegal entries, and average smuggling fees charged to migrants.
Since 2000, the report found, Border Patrol agents have become more efficient in interdicting illegal border jumpers, leading to a precipitous drop in successful illegal crossings and an equally sharp rise in the cost of obtaining services from human smugglers, known as “coyotes.”
Border security improvements began during the second George W. Bush administration and continued with varying degrees of success under Barack Obama. The gains have continued under President Donald Trump, with border arrests down about 22 percent in fiscal year 2017 compared to the same period in FY2016, despite a recent uptick. (RELATED: Illegal Immigration Rises For Fourth Straight Month)
The report sheds light on how much more effective security on the southwest border has become since 2000, when there were an estimated 1.8 million successful illegal crossings. It also suggests that Trump may have difficulty convincing Democrats and some skeptical Republicans in Congress to fund his proposed border wall, given the marked improvements in border security that have been made without a barrier along the 2,000 mile border. (RELATED: Trump: ‘The Wall Will Come Later’ [VIDEO])
Illegal immigration trends are typically evaluated by looking at changes in the number of apprehensions along the border, the idea being that fewer arrests correlates to a smaller number of migrants slipping across the border undetected. It is an imprecise method of measuring the effectiveness of border security because it doesn’t incorporate apprehension rates or the number of potential migrants who were deterred form crossing in the first place.
The DHS report addresses those shortcomings by looking at a metric called the total interdiction rate (TIR), which accounts for the number of illegal immigrants known to have successfully skirted the Border Patrol, plus an estimated number that likely crossed and evaded capture. Border Patrol assessments using interdiction rates show that 55 to 85 percent of illegal crossers are apprehended or interdicted today versus 35 to 70 percent a decade ago.