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1008 PD: Study: Efforts to stop illegal immigration has no effect on amount of traffic

Published on 30 June 2008

For the past 15 years, the U.S. has had a strategy of immigration control that overwhelmingly emphasizes border enforcement, coupled with extremely weak worksite enforcement in the absence of efforts to increase legal-entry opportunities, especially for low-skilled workers, the Mexican Migration Field Research and Training Program (MMFRP) at the UC – San Diego stated during a recent press conference.

The program has conducted research since 2005 to document the effectiveness and unintended consequences of the U.S. border enforcement strategy. The group interviewed more than 3,000 migrants and potential migrants. Its leaders say the findings show tens of billions of dollars have been invested in border enforcement build-up since 1993, with little concern about its efficacy.

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“Since the second half of 2006, apprehensions have been falling,” says Wayne A. Cornelius, director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies. “This decrease is not as large as it was in the early part of this decade, but they have been falling. The Bush administration would like us to believe that this is happening because of tighter border enforcement. But there are at least four other plausible explanations for the downward trend.”

1. Reduced circularity
Fewer migrants are returning home, staying in the U.S.

2. Increased use of people smugglers also known as “Coyotes”
Migrants have an 80 percent chance of crossing the border without being caught when using a Coyote. Four out of five migrants use Coyotes.

3. More crossings are made illegally through legal ports of entry
Illegal migration through these larger ports has a low apprehension rate. Nearly 24 million crossings are made through these ports each year.

4.Current economic recession
There is less demand for workers, especially in the home construction industry.

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“Given our findings on the eventual success rate among undocumented migrants, it is entirely possible that stronger border enforcement has bottled up more of them within the U.S. than it has kept out,” Cornelius says.

The group says a stronger focus on enforcing the labor market, not just the border, and creating a more realistic amount of working visas would be better solutions to decreasing illegal immigration. PD

–From MMFRP finding and a telephone conference with the media

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