Even without a wall, President Trump’s efforts to counter wholesale illegal crossing of the southern border of the United States seem to be working.
The NY Times reports that one third of the 6000 of the asylum seekers who had crowded into Tijuana in the fall have given up, at least temporarily, their attempt to cross into the U.S. and request asylum. Approximately 1000 have accepted an offer by the Mexican government to be returned home (mostly to Honduras). Another thousand have accepted work permits to remain in Mexico.
The recent extension of the Migrant Protection Protocols (otherwise known as the “stay-in-Mexico” policy), although threatened by legal attacks in the U.S., is one way the Trump administration has helped dissuade would-be asylees. This program, begun as a pilot in San Diego and now being extended to other ports of entry, requires that asylum seekers remain in Mexico while their cases are heard, rather than being released into the United States, where many simply disappear.
While leftist pro-immigration groups such as the A.C.L.U. continue to wring their hands and file their lawsuits over the perceived injustice of Trump’s hard-line law enforcement policy, many Mexican officials agree with President Trump about the character of the migrant caravans. According to the Times, they assert–along with Trump–that “many caravan members are not truly desperate for protection.”
Says Cesar Palencia, Tijuana’s chief of migrant services, “Many people came on an adventure, trying their luck. When they realized that it was hard to cross and the conditions in Mexico were also difficult, among many factors, they decided to return home.”
While the tough stance taken by Trump in Tijuana seems to be working, many of the migrants have shifted their attention to other parts of the border. The Mexican government in the past week was forced to relocate a large group of mostly Honduran migrants from an encampment at Piedras Negras, across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas, after a riot broke out there.
In spite of causing some migrants to turn back or remain in place, Trump’s policies can be only partially effective without a wall. Last Monday, more than 1800 illegals crossed into the United States, a one-day record.
One 26-year-old migrant in Tijuana was interviewed last week after a failed attempt to cross the border illegally. Citing his desire to send money to the family he left behind in Honduras, he vowed, “If I can’t get in, I’ll just keep trying.”
For more, see the NY Times.