Much of the focus on migrants arriving at our southern border rightly centers on the number of illegal aliens coming into the United States and the figures describing how many of them we actually apprehend. But there’s another factor in this equation which is quickly becoming even more problematic. During the fiscal year of 2018 (which ended in September) the number of unauthorized aliens filing amnesty claims rose by almost 70%. The effect this is having on our border control situation is drastic. (Washington Times)

The number of migrants demanding asylum at the U.S. border soared 67 percent in 2018, Homeland Security officials said Monday, swamping an already overloaded system and fueling a testy debate on Capitol Hill over how the government is responding.

Both the official border crossings and Border Patrol agents who patrol between the ports of entry reported massive increases, and authorities said the numbers could have been even higher but there’s just not enough space to process and hold people, particularly at the ports.

“Migrants may have to need to stay and wait in Mexico until space opens up,” said one official at Customs and Border Protection, who briefed reporters on the new numbers on condition he not be named. “This number would be higher, again, if not for the facility and resource constraints at the ports of entry.”

The quotes from the Border Patrol agents and customs officials tell a shocking and complicated story. Most of it is driven by money flowing into the black market. Human smuggling is now a multibillion-dollar business on the Mexican border and the criminals make their profits in a variety of ways.

Many smugglers not only transport migrants to (or across) the border but coach them in what to say when they present themselves to make an asylum claim. While only 20% of them will be approved, even with prior coaching, a far larger number will wind up being released inside the United States to await a hearing. In too many cases, they never show up, slipping away to join all the other illegal aliens in the country.

There’s black market money to be made on the northern side of the border as well. Agents report finding Americans who are showing up to drive illegals far from the law enforcement activity at the border if the migrants can afford to pay. And if they are caught in the process, they have generally already been instructed to ask for asylum after being captured, rather than just being treated as an illegal border crosser and detained for deportation.

Without a wall, or at least a vastly expanded and enhanced barrier of some kind, it’s going to be virtually impossible to significantly reduce these numbers. And the black market operators who are growing rich off this system are too clever by half. We are well past the point where we not only need new solutions on our side of border, but better cooperation with the government of Mexico to get this situation under control. Some progress has been made lately on that second point but much more remains to be done.