Border apprehensions dropped again in October but the next border crisis may just be starting

Border apprehensions dropped again in October but the next border crisis may just be starting

The number of people apprehended at the southern border dropped again in October for the 5th straight month. Vox reports that makes for a cumulative 75 percent drop since May and credits President Trump’s policies for the decline:

The number of migrants apprehended at the southern border dropped again in October to 36,300, marking the fifth month straight they have declined, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The decline in border apprehensions, which have decreased by about 75 percent since their height of 132,856 in May, and 10 percent in the last month alone, appears to be due to more than typical seasonal fluctuations and suggests that President Donald Trump’s immigration policies are having their intended effect…

Under the administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, officially known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, the administration has sent about 55,000 migrants back to Mexico while they await a decision on their US asylum applications. Both migrants who wait in line at ports of entry and those who try to cross the border outside ports of entry without authorization can be subject to the policy if an asylum officer finds their claims credible.

The administration also recently brokered agreements with the Northern Triangle countries that aim to facilitate cooperation with US law enforcement, and eventually allow the US to return asylum seekers to those countries. And after Trump threatened to impose tariffs on all Mexican goods in June, the Mexican government deployed a record 15,000 troops to detain over 31,000 migrants that month and almost 19,000 in July.

Vox reports it’s not clear if the drop in apprehensions is a result of fewer people making the attempt to reach the border or simply the result of more people being prevented from reaching it by increased enforcement. Whatever the case, it’s clear Trump’s policies are having an impact. In fact, Bloomberg’s Noah Smith says Trump has, in a sense, kept one of his campaign promises:

In response to tariff threats, Mexico deployed troops to its southern border with Guatemala in order to stop migrant caravans from entering; it also beefed up its troops at the U.S. border. In a strange way, Trump has thus fulfilled one of his most notorious campaign promises: to make Mexico pay the cost of stopping Latin American migration…

Trump’s policies may have been a lot of effort – and done a lot of damage to the U.S.’s reputation as an open and humane country – for very little gain. Even those who want to prevent Central American immigration could have simply waited for the migration wave to end. Instead, the U.S. is left with a militarized border, resentful southern neighbors and a byzantine asylum system designed to reject people rather than give them protection.

The people who were coming from Central America this year were gaming the byzantine system of asylum rules that already exists. Relatively few of them had legitimate asylum claims but despite this, most of them were claiming asylum because they knew it was a back door to enter America and to remain here for as long as they wanted. It’s not a shame that we’ve put an end to having our laws gamed. But if the number of bogus refugee claims from Central America is dropping, the number of legitimate claims could soon be rising thanks to a surge of cartel violence in southern Mexico:

There are now approximately 6,500 to 7,000 Mexicans on the wait list in Tijuana to make an initial asylum claim, according to Al Otro Lado, a binational organization that advocates for immigrants’ rights and provides pro-bono legal services to migrants.

The sudden increase in the numbers of Mexican families trying to seek asylum in the United States is prompting concern from immigration experts in both countries about a new border crisis driven by cartel violence in south Mexico…

Overall, for fiscal year 2019, non-Mexicans accounted for 80% of apprehensions, marking the fourth consecutive year in which they outnumbered Mexicans, according to the Pew Research Center. However, the number of Mexican family units apprehended at the southwestern border went up 165% between fiscal year 2018 and fiscal year 2019, CBP data shows.

PEW published the results of a new survey today which asked Americans what they want to see on immigration. The results aren’t too surprising. About two-thirds (68%) say they want increased border security but an almost equal percentage (67%) want a pathway to legal status for illegal immigrants who are here. There’s a big partisan divide in both number of course with 91 percent of Republicans saying they want more border security compared to 49 percent of Democrats. Similarly, 82 percent of Democrats saying they want legal status for immigrants who are here and just 48 percent of Republicans agree.

That looks like enough of a national consensus on both issues that the two parties should be able to make some sort of deal. But what we’ve seen from Democrats is no interest in providing any serious funds for a border wall even if that meant a deal to preserve DACA. Maybe their calculus will change if the Supreme Court rules (as it should) that Trump can end DACA. We’ve certainly come a long way from the days when Democrats were complaining about a “manufactured crisis.

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