The increase of human smugglers transporting unauthorized immigrants to the United States is likely a consequence of more effective border enforcement. Although the Obama administration has de-emphasized internal immigration enforcement after 2011, his administration has ramped up enforcement along the border – focusing on increasing the legal and economic costs imposed on unlawful immigrants apprehended while trying to enter the United States. Since border and internal enforcement are substitutes, the shift in resources and increase in penalties for unlawful crossers does not represent a decrease in total enforcement. Matt Graham from the Bipartisan Policy Center wrote an excellent breakdown of the reprioritization of immigration enforcement, the increase in penalties, and how it has deterred unauthorized immigration.
The price of smuggling is an indication of the effectiveness of immigration enforcement along the border. The first effect of increased enforcement is to decrease the supply of human smugglers. As the supply of human smugglers decreases, the price that remaining human smugglers can charge increases. Before border enforcement tightened in the early 1990s, migrants typically paid about $725 (2014 dollars). Currently, unauthorized migrants from Central America are paying around $7500.