The claim that increased border security would eliminate undocumented immigration is blathered on talk radio and asserted by policymakers all of the time. But, the truth is, we've been increasing border security for decades without success! Before throwing your hands up in frustration and defeat when you hear this myth, consider responding with these quick mythbusting facts!
FACT: Increased border security and the construction of border fences have done little to curb the flow of immigrants across the United States border. Instead, these policies have only succeeded in pushing border crossers into dangerous and less-patrolled regions, and increased the undocumented population by creating an incentive for immigrants not to leave.
FACT: Building a wall along the entire 2000-mile southern U.S. border would be prohibitively expensive. According to a study by the Cato Institute, rather than acting as a deterrent to those attempting to cross the border, increased enforcement has only succeeded in pushing immigration flows into more remote, less patrolled regions, resulting in a tripling of the death rate at the border and decreased apprehensions, and creating a dramatic increase in taxpayer money spent on making arrests along the border (from $300 per arrest in 1992 to $1,200 per arrest in 2002).
FACT: Most experts agree that the decline in the number of unauthorized immigrants is closely linked to the US recession and not to border security programs. Studies have found that historically, recessions affect unauthorized workers disproportionately, as they are more likely to work in industries that are sensitive to business cycles, such as construction, manufacturing, and hospitality. Additionally, statistics show that in 2009, there were 50% less apprehensions at the border than in 2006, a sign that there is less incentive for people to come to the US during recession. More mythbusting facts on this issue can be found in Immigration Myths and Facts, a report from the The ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project.
This article was published with the permission of AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association) AILA Doc. No. 10050530.
For more information on immigration policies, visit www.aila.org.