The suite of immigration control measures taken by the Trump administration – including the Migrant Protection Protocols, the Mexican crackdown on its southern border, interior repatriation of Mexicans and third safe country agreements with several Central American countries – have continued to drive illegal alien apprehensions down. Sources inside the Border Patrol who spoke on the condition of anonymity report that March 2020 apprehensions for the entire Southwest border are roughly 18,000 to date, compared to nearly 104,000 during March, 2019.
This is not just a monthly fluke. Every month in 2020 has been substantially lower than last year, with roughly 221,000 illegal aliens being apprehended thus far this fiscal year, compared to 421,000 during the same period in FY 2019. Apprehensions in all sectors of the Southwest border have decreased this year, except for the Laredo, Del Rio and Tucson sectors.
But it’s not all good news, as apparently Mexican cartels have pivoted from human smuggling to drug smuggling. Hard narcotics, such as heroin, methamphetamines and fentanyl have all increased this year compared to last, according to Border Patrol sources. Earlier this month, Border Patrol agents foiled three separate smuggling attempts near Edinburg, Texas, seizing more than 760 lbs. of marijuana, with a value $610,000.
The emergence of the coronavirus has given new meaning and importance to border control – not just in the U.S. but across the globe. Perhaps when this crisis ends, the notion of border security as a key element of public safety and national security will be less politically divisive.