For the seventh month in a row, apprehensions of illegal aliens along America’s southwest border dropped, a trend that six months ago would have been unthinkable. Illegal alien apprehensions for December dipped to roughly 40,000, a far cry from the 144,000 illegal aliens who were detained trying to enter their way into the U.S. in May. Apprehensions have been falling ever since.
Catch and release, a phenomenon that has haunted administrations since George W. Bush was in office and contributed to the surge of migrants arriving at the southern border, is nearly a thing of the past. So what gives?
Demonstrating an uncanny ability to think outside of the box, the Trump administration, knowing that a do-nothing Congress would live up to its moniker when facing historic illegal immigration, turned to international diplomacy. Forging key agreements with our neighbors to the south, the administration urged them to work with us to control the mass illegal migration of their citizens.
Sometimes the administration did it with a carrot, and sometimes they did it with a stick. First, the administration turned to Mexico, the conduit for nearly everyone coming into the country illegally from Central America, and made clear that if they want to keep American markets open to Mexican products, then they need to step up their efforts in controlling their southern border. Mexico, which sends roughly 80 percent of its exports to the U.S., heard that message loud and clear.
More than 6,000 members of the Mexican military and police force were quickly dispatched to their southern border, and the number of apprehensions have been falling ever since. But they’ve expanded their efforts to include the border they share with the U.S. as well, and were recently reported intervening in human smuggling rings run by drug cartels as they attempted to push their customers (illegal aliens) into the U.S.
A recent video of efforts by Mexican police on their northern border clearly demonstrates just how successful they are at collaborating with the U.S. Border Patrol to stop human smuggling. This kind of bilateral cooperation on the issue of illegal immigration is unprecedented in recent history, if not ever. Furthermore, to stop the cycle of Mexican illegal aliens being returned directly over the border once they are removed, the Trump Administration has started a program of interior repatriation , whereby Mexicans who are not from border states – and that’s the vast majority of their population – are returned deep into the interior of the country closer to their homes and farther away from our border.
The administration has also worked with our Central American neighbors to ensure that would-be asylees who pass through those countries must first ask for asylum there before coming to the U.S. This enables those who are truly fleeing persecution at the hands of their government to find safe haven in the first safe country they arrive in while greatly reducing the widespread asylum fraud that has plagued this nation for decades.
In addition to a current agreement with Guatemala, the administration is set to roll out in the next few weeks a new agreement reached with Honduras that will allow the administration to return illegal aliens who had passed through the country without filing an asylum claim there first. A similar agreement has also been reached with El Salvador and is expected to come online soon.
There have also been major gains in the construction of the border wall, a highly effective deterrent that has been widely applauded by the Border Patrol as one of most effective tools in protecting the U.S. from the influx of criminal aliens, drugs and dangerous cartels. The administration has completed roughly 100 miles of border wall, and won a recent victory when the fifth circuit Court of Appeals allowed the administration to transfer over $3.6 billion in Department of Defense funds earmarked for wall construction. The Administration plans on adding an additional 350 miles of wall by the end of the year.
All of these steps by the Trump administration are a full court press to ensure that immigration policy reflects the national interest. Widespread, mass illegal immigration is not only a threat to the safety and security of the United States, but also to the standard of living to many disadvantaged Americans. As the Congressional Budget Office recently noted, “[a]mong people with less education, a large percentage are foreign born. Consequently, immigration has exerted downward pressure on the wages of relatively low-skilled workers who are already in the country, regardless of their birthplace.”
Clearly, if we lack the ability to control our borders, we lack the ability to affect our own futures.
Dave Ray is director of communications at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.