‘Trump Effect’ Wears Off as Migrants Resume Their Northward Push

Caitlin Dickersonjan. New York Times, January 10, 2018

{snip}

Just months after border apprehensions hit a 17-year low, which administration officials proudly celebrated as a “Trump effect,” the number of migrants trying to enter the United States has been surging, surpassing 40,000 along the Southwest border last month, more than double the springtime numbers, according to new data from the Homeland Security Department.

Many factors, including the Central American economy and gang violence, play a role in migration patterns. But it also appears that any deterrent effect of Mr. Trump’s tough talk and ramped-up immigration enforcement has begun to wane.

In interviews, volunteers and lawyers along the border say that migrants and smugglers have stopped lying low, deciding that trying to get a foothold in a well-off and safe country was no riskier than in the past.

“I think this was a ‘Let’s wait and see what’s going to happen’ period,” said Ruben Garcia, director of the Annunciation House, a shelter in El Paso that provides housing to recent border crossers as they search for more permanent places to live.

{snip}

“After it became evident that there wasn’t a dramatic change on the part of the administration, then the smugglers started selling their product again and the flow began to resume,” Mr. Garcia said.

In releasing the data, the administration acknowledged that it had lost ground in its effort to stem immigration. But it also seized on the statistics to make the case that Congress should overhaul immigration laws to deter more people from coming.

{snip}

The numbers of apprehensions are an indication of border activity, but they do not count those who slip through undetected. Though the recent increase makes clear that the flow of migrants has resumed, the numbers have not approached the crisis levels of 2014, when they reached nearly 70,000 in a single month, many of them children traveling alone. Homeland Security officials noted that the 2017 apprehensions still represented a 40 percent decrease from the year before.

{snip}

Among those stopped at the border in December were 8,000 families and 4,000 so-called unaccompanied minors. Family detention centers are so full that many families are being let go, with the parents fitted with ankle monitors, the kind of “catch and release” practice that the administration has been trying to avoid all along.

{snip}

Regardless of American policy, immigrant advocates said that as long as Central America continued to be crippled by crime and poverty, migrants would continue to flow north. Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are often ranked among the most dangerous countries in the world because of drug- and gang-related violence, as well as widespread attacks against women.

{snip}

One recent border crosser, an 18-year-old man from the state of Yoro in Honduras who asked not to be identified because he was here illegally, agreed. He entered the United States on New Year’s Day and has been staying at Annunciation House, the shelter in El Paso, since.

{snip}

“Because of the laws and Trump saying ‘no more immigrants,’ I was afraid of being caught,” he said.

“But at the same time I want to help my family overcome,” he added. “My goal was to come here no matter the risks.”

Before he left Honduras, he overheard other people talk about crossing the border. He said he thought the rumors of a crackdown along the border had been overblown.

{snip}

Topics: , , ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.