Illegal Border Crossings Have Plummeted Since Election Day

DHS Secretary John Kelly announced yesterday that illegal border crossings have plummeted in the past few months:

From January to February, the flow of illegal border crossings as measured by apprehensions and the prevention of inadmissible persons at our southern border dropped by 40 percent. The drop in apprehensions shows a marked change in trends. 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 is encouraging news as in the period from Oct 1, 2016 to the Presidential inauguration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported 157,000 apprehensions of illegal immigrants — a 35 percent increase over the previous fiscal year, with family units increasing by more than 100 percent. However, since President Trump took office on January 20, we have seen a dramatic drop in numbers.

That’s a remarkably partisan statement, but perhaps it’s not all that out of the ordinary? In any case, here’s a more readable chart than the one CBP provides:

Most of President Trump’s routine boasting is groundless, but this is one case where I think he really has had an effect. His policy changes haven’t had much impact yet, but the mere fact of his boasting, and of CBP’s highly publicized raids, has probably scared a lot of potential border crossers away. This is a case where fear works.

But will it work for long? The problem with amping up the bluster is that eventually it becomes the new normal and no longer has much effect. By that time, you really need to have an effective policy in place, and it’s not yet clear if Trump has the attention span or political skills to make that happen. We’ll see.