The number of undocumented immigrants coming across the U.S.-Mexico border has fallen sharly under President Donald Trump.
Putting a stop to illegal immigration was a cornerstone of Trump’s campaign during the 2016 presidential election and although his efforts to build a wall along the entirety of the border has been one of the most controversial policy proposals, he might not need it if numbers continue to go in their current direction.
The New York Times reports that in 2016, approximately 840 undocumented immigrants illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border every day in February of that year. But according to numbers from Customs and Border Protection, the number of undocumented immigrants fell 36 percent in February of this year.
And although illegal border crossings tend to rise in February compared to January because of the rise in temperature, February’s numbers in 2017 were actually 40 percent lower than the previous month.
“The drop in apprehensions shows a marked change in trends,” John F. Kelly, the homeland security secretary, said in a statement. “Since the Administration’s implementation of Executive Orders to enforce immigration laws, apprehensions and inadmissible activity is trending toward the lowest monthly total in at least the last five years. This change in the trend line is especially significant because CBP historically sees a 10-20 percent increase in apprehensions of illegal immigrants from January to February. Instead, this year we saw a drop from 31,578 to 18,762 persons – a 40 percent decline.”
Kelly added: “The decrease is also encouraging news because it means many fewer people are putting themselves and their families at risk of exploitation, assault and injury by human traffickers and the physical dangers of the treacherous journey north.”
“The early results show that enforcement matters, deterrence matters, and that comprehensive immigration enforcement can make an impact,”
The New York Times reported that the decrease in immigration can be linked to a number of factors, including weather and the U.S. economy. But experts believe one of the major reasons for the decrease at this time is the perception that current U.S. policy is not open to new immigrants, especially with Trump issuing executive orders aimed directly at cutting immigration.
“Deterrence through perception is central to these executive orders,” said Faye Hipsman, a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute. “Even floating the possibility of expanding detention at the border makes somebody less likely to come.”
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank dedicated to decreasing immigration into the U.S., said this has happened before but tends to not last long without solid policy to backup the talk.
“The talk of tougher enforcement can, in fact, lead to reductions in the flow, but only for a short period of time if the words aren’t backed up with action,” Krikorian said, pointing out that tough talk on immigration during the Ronald Reagan administration “didn’t exactly pan out.”