Despite the fact that #NeverTrumpers are loathed to admit it, the Trump administration’s efforts to merely enforce existing immigration laws are having a dramatic effect on illegal border crossings, which are down dramatically in regions that were once human trafficking sieves.
As reported by the Los Angeles Times, illegal crossings in the Rio Grande Valley have plummeted to their lowest level in 17 years, and Border Patrol agents are crediting the administration’s immigration law enforcement directives.
“This area used to be really hot,” Marlene Castro, a supervisory Border Patrol agent, told the Times during a recent patrol in the region. “You couldn’t move. Every time you turned a corner, you’d run into group after group.”
But now the area is nearly devoid of all illegal smuggling activity. “The only signs of life, apart from the odd wildcat stalking prey, are Border Patrol agents lurking by the roadside in pickup trucks and SUVs,” the Times reported.
In fact, the trend of dramatically reduced illegal immigration stretches the length of the entire 2,200-odd mile U.S.-Mexico border. In March, less than 12,200 people were apprehended – still a sizeable number, but one that represents a 64 percent decrease from the same period the year before, and the lowest number of monthly apprehensions in nearly two decades. (RELATED: Trump Admin To Support Mothers Who Lost Family To Crimes By Illegal Aliens)
The Rio Grande Valley has been the busiest illegal crossing corridor since about 2014, when changes in Obama administration enforcement policy led to a virtual invasion of mostly poor immigrants from Central America and Mexico. The number of families and unaccompanied minors sent north by parents has fallen from a high of about 291 per day to an average of just 37 a day last month.
There are a number of factors responsible for the major drop in illegal crossings: Tougher enforcement of immigration laws at the border, a stepped-up effort to find and deport criminal aliens in the nation’s interior, discussion by the administration of punishing so-called “sanctuary cities” largely by withholding federal funds, and higher smuggling fees being charged by human traffickers.
Castro, who has spent nearly two decades with Border Patrol, told the Times there really is no “normal anymore,” claiming that agents are really not doing anything different. She noted that immigration-related executive orders issued early on by President Donald J. Trump are merely aimed at enforcing existing laws.
But that enforcement alone is having an effect; while the former administration likes to brag that the Obama White House deported more people in the country illegally than many previous administrations, what is also true is that Obama’s lax internal enforcement was a draw, as evidenced by the tens of thousands who ran for the border during his final years in office. Now, people who once considered sneaking into the U.S. are having second thoughts because they’re not sure that they would be able to stay even if they make it across the border.
“Are you going to risk a 1,000-mile journey and pay $8,000 to be smuggled if you’re not sure you’ll get to stay?” Castro told the Times. “I wouldn’t.” (RELATED: Trump effect: Illegal immigration has plunged 27 percent since #45 took office)
Other experts also see the Trump effect as having put a damper on illegal crossings.
“There’s a perception that it’s going to be very difficult for immigrants to cross into the U.S. and stay in the U.S.,” Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, an associate professor of public affairs and security studies at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, told the Times. “It makes them think twice because the commitment is too big.”
The Border Patrol knows what’s happening. Last month Border Patrol Chief David V. Aguilar told a congressional committee that the Trump administration’s policies have freed up his agency and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to pursue illegal immigrants in the country’s interior, which he also credited with the drop in illegal crossings.
J.D. Heyes is a senior writer for NaturalNews.com and NewsTarget.com, as well as editor of The National Sentinel.