In the weeks which have elapsed since the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump there has not been a single pound of concrete poured on the southern border in the construction of the proposed wall. Executive orders have been issued to beef up the ranks of immigration law enforcement, but that hiring process is going to be lengthy and has barely gotten off the ground. There are no new electronic surveillance devices in any significant numbers scanning the border. In fact, very little has changed in physical terms so far. But for some reason, the one metric we have to rely on tells us that illegal immigration has plummeted precipitously during the short period of time. (Washington Times)
Illegal immigration across the southwest border plummeted in the weeks after President Trump took office, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly said Wednesday, declaring an early victory from Mr. Trump’s get-tough policies.
In addition to a drop in number of illegal immigrants nabbed while attempting to cross, Mr. Kelly also said they seen a dramatic spike in the rates charged by smugglers paid to sneak people into the US — surging $3000, to $8,000, since November.
Mr. Kelly called the drop in apprehensions “unprecedented.” The number of people caught at the border is considered a good indication of the overall flow, so a drop in apprehensions is believed to signal a drop in total number of crossers.
I suppose the first question to be answered is how reliable these statistics actually are. To play devil’s advocate for a moment, this is one of those “known unknowns” that we always wrestle with when approaching this subject. A marked decrease in the number of people being apprehended could, in theory, simply mean that there are more people coming across who are not being detected. But that’s fairly unlikely. Unless some massive new tunnel was recently completed or the coyotes have suddenly gained access to groundbreaking teleportation technology, the same game is afoot on the border as always. We catch a certain percentage of criminals crossing over, while a depressingly large number of others manage to make it through.
Regardless of any remaining uncertainty, this does seem to be a story which is not being presented “without evidence.” There are fewer illegals attempting to come into the country. At the same time, as we already noted here, some of those already in the country illegally are attempting to flee to Canada (with some nearly dying in the process). So what explains this?
There doesn’t seem to be any other possible explanation other than one of general attitude and the word getting out in the street south of the border. Not to put too much of a Hollywood spin on the situation, but there’s a new sheriff in town and the coyotes seem to know it along with their potential “customer base.” The fact that these human traffickers have been jacking up their rates for illicit border crossing by more than double means that they recognize that the cost of doing business and associated risks have increased. That word would spread quickly among those seeking their services.
This doesn’t mean we should forget about building the wall, hiring more law enforcement officers or enhancing electronic surveillance. We absolutely need to do all of these things. But there will be a multiplying effect in terms of success if there are fewer “travelers” to be watching out for in the first place. Just don’t expect to see the story being trumpeted endlessly on cable news or in the pages of the New York Times. They seem to have a serious problem with winning.