The U.S. government — and the Texas state government — are spending more money than ever to curb unauthorized migration. Last year, the Border Patrol caught migrants nearly 1.7 million times. This year, numbers are likely to soar past 2 million. The U.S. last saw peak numbers in 2000, when the Tucson region was the hot spot for illegal crossings.
The Dallas Morning News spoke to Theresa Cardinal Brown, managing director of immigration and cross-border policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, about illegal and legal immigration and the backlogged U.S. asylum system. She served in the Department of Homeland Security in the Republican administration of President George W. Bush and the Democratic administration of President Barack Obama.
The interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Does deterrence work?
“Not for long … [Border Patrol apprehensions] dropped temporarily at the beginning of the pandemic and 2020 but then started going up again, and it’s really remained fairly high since. Now it’s not just the Northern Triangle [El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras] folks. It’s from all over Latin America, from all over the world, 100-plus countries.”
The other big difference, probably between 2000 and now, is that a lot of the migration in 2000 was facilitated by mom-and-pop smugglers … not necessarily sophisticated enterprises but sort of opportunistic people who knew the region and would kindly guide people across. That is not the case now. Sophisticated, profit-seeking, transnational criminal organizations have an incentive to incentivize the migration we’re seeing now because they can make a lot of money on it and they are.
It also seems like right now we have a de facto policy by country. We are seeing the arrival of more Cubans and Venezuelans and Nicaraguans who aren’t subject to the pandemic-related health order Title 42 and its quick expulsions. Are the smugglers taking advantage of that, too?
By Dianne Solis
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