Monday, April 15, 2024

Arrests at the Border Drop Significantly


The busiest illegal immigration corridors on the U.S. – Mexico border are becoming increasingly quiet. As the U.S. economy suffers and enforcement increases, the number of illegal immigrants arrested on the border has fallen dramatically.

San Luis Rio Colorado, a border town in the Mexican state of Sonora, was once bustling with migrants but now finds donated clothes piling up in the local migrant center. Just across the border in Yuma, Arizona, the Border Patrol agents are finding they have a lot less work than they used to. Recently they have been going days without arresting a single person; this in the same corridor that 3 years ago saw thousands passing through in a single day.

Between October 2008 and February 2009 Border Patrol agents have arrested 195,399 illegal immigrants, representing a 24% decrease from the same period last year. This figure indicates that the apprehension level is likely to fall around 550,000 for the federal fiscal year, the lowest since 1975. The downward trend in arrests began a few years ago when the Bush administration started increasing border security with more agents, infrastructure and fencing. The increased security served as a deterrent but did not slow down the flow nearly as much as the troublesome economic situation occurring north of the border has.

The downward trend can be clearly seen in San Luis Rio Colorado and the adjacent communities in Yuma County, Arizona. At night, immigrants would make their way across the border and find themselves in subdivisions and trailer parks, running through backyards toward the region’s agricultural fields that had once provided low-paying, steady work for many of these immigrants. This area, since 2006, has represented the Bush administration’s crack down – featuring double-fencing, stadium lighting, and enforcement roads.

Last year the city of San Luis Rio Colorado opened an immigrant aid center after years of demand and stress on local churches and shelters. Nerida Rosas, the 74-year-old archivist at Immaculate Conception Church, remembers when the demand was often more than they could handle: “We had to turn away families sometimes, there were just too many.”

Last month the new immigrant aid center only had 45 visitors, many of whom, the city officials said, were immigrants returning home.

Even with economic turmoil in the U.S. many immigrants still attempt to cross the border. For some it is worth the journey and possible jail time. When work is lacking in many parts of Mexico, the U.S. is often the only hope.

LA Times