Undocumented Upswing: Understanding The Surge In Illegal Border Crossings

By Andrew Soboeiro

Last week, we discussed Trump’s “invisible wall,” or the way he has kept people from immigrating to the United States even without physically obstructing the border. And while many would consider his actions morally repugnant, these actions are at least consistent with his campaign promises. Trump promised he’d stop the flow of foreigners into the United States, and that’s what he’s doing—right?

A recent study casts doubt on even this charitable assessment. While the president has reduced the number of immigrants and visitors entering the United States legally, recent estimates suggest that undocumented immigration levels are on the rise. The implications of this trend should be concerning to Americans of all political stripes.

An Increase in Immigration

Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security reported that it caught 37,393 people crossing the border into the United States. This was 200 percent more than the number of people apprehended over the same period last year, and roughly in line with figures from the final years of the Obama Administration. Border Patrol agents reported a particularly large increase in the number of families apprehended crossing the border, as well as in the number of unaccompanied minors.

These numbers are so shocking because for a while, it did look like Trump was lowering levels of undocumented immigration. In the months after his inauguration, the number of apprehensions dropped to just over 11,000 a month, compared to more than 40,000 immediately beforehand. This drop was likely due to the perception that the United States was becoming more hostile to immigrants, and thus that it was unwise to enter.

But now, that perception seems to have worn off. Prospective immigrants are regaining their confidence to enter the United States, and those who did not enter in 2017 may try to do so now. Combined with the fact that the Trump Administration has made it more difficult to gain and keep legal status, this could be a recipe for unprecedented levels of undocumented immigration. The present numbers may only be the beginning!

Troubling Trends

The increase in undocumented immigration under the Trump Administration is a symptom of a broader problem. Over the last few decades, the United States has adopted some of the strictest immigration laws in its history. But the driving forces that bring immigrants to this country remain the same. Not only do immigrants continue to have compelling humanitarian, political, and economic reasons for seeking entry to the United States, but employers often need them to fill critical shortfalls in construction, healthcare, farming, and other labor-intensive industries. Many of these employers also prefer to hire undocumented immigrants, as such immigrants’ precarious status makes it harder for them to demand higher wages or better treatment. Thus immigrants still have a strong incentive to enter this country, and employers have an even stronger incentive to recruit them. In other words, the harder it is for immigrants to enter legally, the more will do so illegally.

This situation should be concerning to all Americans. Crossing the US-Mexico border is incredibly dangerous, especially for children. The more people try to do so, the more will die. This is unacceptable to anyone concerned about human rights.

Even those who want to see immigration levels decline should be shocked by this state of affairs, for both humanitarian reasons and practical ones. Whatever the merits of curtailing immigration, it’s better for people to come here legally. When immigrants enter without documentation, authorities cannot keep track of them or prepare local infrastructure and public services for them. The negative impacts of immigration will be higher, and the positive effects lower. Everyone should thus oppose the Trump Administration’s current immigration policies, regardless of what they think about immigration in general.

For more information on immigration policies, resources, and legal solutions, contact Vigoda Law Firm today at 919-307-7817.