H-2 Visas Reduced Mexican Illegal Immigration

Government data for the month of June show a substantial decrease in the number of immigrants apprehended along the Southwest border.  Much of this decline is probably due to extra Mexican immigration enforcement prompted by President Trump’s threat of imposing tariffs on Mexican imports if they don’t reduce the surge of Central Americans from the Northern Triangle.

Crime Along the Border Is Historically Low

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) just announced that they have apprehended 787,161 people from the beginning of fiscal year (FY) 2019 through to the end of May 2019.  CBP apprehended 144, 278 people in May alone, marking the third month in a row that more than 100,000 people have been apprehended.  Relative to the end of May in FY2018, apprehensions this year are up 178 percent.  Although the number of apprehensions is rising, the number of criminal aliens encountered by C

1.3 Percent of All Central Americans in the Northern Triangle Were Apprehended by Border Patrol This Fiscal Year – So Far

Border Patrol apprehensions of Central Americans from the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras rose again this month to 444,509, so far this fiscal year (FY).  According to United Nations population estimates, U.S. Border Patrol apprehended 1.32 percent of all residents of the Northern Triangle countries to date this fiscal year.  Northern Triangle citizens account for 75 percent of all Border Patrol apprehensions this FY.

So far in FY 2019, 1.8 percent of the population of Honduras, 1.2 percent of the population of Guatemala, and 0.9 percent of the population of El Salvador have been apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol.  The percent of the Northern Triangle populations apprehended by Border Patrol are still far lower than the annual emigration rates from many European countries during the Age of Migration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  According to Dudley Baines, the emigration rate from Italy was about 2 percent per year from 1901-1913 while it was almost 4 percent per year from Calabria during the same time.  Regardless, Border Patrol apprehensions in FY 2019 as a percentage of the sending country’s population is very high.

The rate of Northern Triangle emigration has accelerated rapidly over the last several years as reflected by the percent of the population in those countries apprehended by Border Patrol (Figure 1).  However, the collapse of Border Patrol apprehensions of Mexicans is equally dramatic as it fell from about 0.6 percent of Mexico’s population in 2007 to 0.1 percent in 2019.  A major difference between the apprehension of Mexicans in the past and those from the Northern Triangle today is that the latter are turning themselves into Border Patrol to ask for asylum while the former were trying to evade.

Figure 1: Percent of Northern Triangle Countries and Mexico Apprehended by Border Patrol

Figure 1 does not include the number of immigrants from those countries who received green cards, work visas, entered unlawfully and escaped detection, or returned to their home countries from the United States.  It is just a gross apprehension rate by Border Patrol.  It both undercounts and overcounts the net emigration rate from the Northern Triangle.  It overcounts because only some of those apprehended are let in and many are removed, it doesn’t include other deportations from the interior of the United States, and it doesn’t count voluntary returns.  It undercounts because it doesn’t include the number of green cards issued to those abroad in the Northern Triangle nor does it include the number of other visas issued to them.  The net effect on the net emigration rate of the Northern Triangle is ambiguous.

Criminal Aliens Are Not Surging the Border

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) just announced that they have apprehended 531,711 people so far during the fiscal year (FY) 2019.  CBP apprehended 109,144 people in April alone, marking the second month in a row that more than 100,000 people have been apprehended.  Relative to the end of April in FY 2018, apprehensions this year are up 84 percent and the number is more than double just for the month of April relative to last April.  Although the number of apprehensions is rising, the number of

Criminal Illegal Immigration Falls 75 Percent

The number of Border Patrol apprehensions is climbing rapidly this year. Border Patrol has apprehended 273,089 people along the Southwest border since the beginning of fiscal year 2019 through to the end of February 2019. If those numbers continue to climb, Border Patrol apprehensions this fiscal year could exceed the annual number in any year since the start of the Great Recession.

A “Smart” Surveillance Wall Would Be Worse Than Trump’s “Big, Beautiful” Wall

Last week President Trump lost his game of chicken with Congressional Democrats and signed a bill that will keep the government open until February 15th. The fight over the recent government shutdown centered on border security, with the president insisting that Congress provide funds for a border wall. Congress didn’t provide the funds, and Democrats in Congress have been celebrating their victory over the

CBP Drones: Inefficient and a Threat to Privacy

My colleague David Bier and I have written a policy brief on the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) flown by Customs and Border Protection (CBP). We argue that CBP’s fleet of Predator B drones are a threat to the privacy of Americans living along the border and an inefficient tool for locating illegal border crossers and illegal drugs. In addition, state and local use of these UAVs mean that American living in the interior are also at risk of being the target of warrantless surveillance.

Predator B drones may have a reputation as highly efficient military tools, but on the homefront they’ve proven inefficient at contributing to border security. For instance, in the last few years CBP’s predator drones have contributed to less than a percent of illegal border crosser apprehensions at a cost of $32,000 per arrest. When it comes to marijuana seizures, the drone fare little better, being responsible for about 3 percent of marijuana seizures in the same time period.

These inefficient UAVs pose a threat to Americans living along the border and in the interior. State and local law enforcement can request CBP drones for assistance. In fact, the first domestic law enforcement use of UAV to assist an arrest was in 2011, when police in North Dakota requested the use of a CBP Predator. Thanks to three Supreme Court cases from the 1980s warrantless aerial surveillance does not run afoul of the 4th Amendment. While some states have passed warrant requirements for UAVs, it’s not clear whether CBP adheres to state warrant requirements when acting on the behest of state and local law enforcement.

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