Unauthorized migration across the US/Mexico border is on track to be the lowest since 1972, said DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson earlier this week.
“The bottom line of all this is, in recent years the total number of those who attempt to illegally cross our southwest border has declined dramatically, while the percentage of those who are apprehended has gone up,” Secretary Johnson said in a speech at Rice University.
“Put simply, it’s now much harder to cross our border illegally and evade capture than it used to be — and people know that.”
“Through May, or the first eight months of the fiscal year, the Border Patrol had caught 213,145 illegal immigrants at the border. That was down 34 percent from the same point in 2014.”
This echoes findings from a recent front page Washington Post story from Jerry Markon, who reported that “illegal immigration flows have fallen to their lowest level in at least two decades” as the Obama Administration has moved massive resources into funding border security:
“As the Department of Homeland Security continues to pour money into border security, evidence is emerging that illegal immigration flows have fallen to their lowest level in at least two decades. The nation’s population of illegal immigrants, which more than tripled, to 12.2 million, between 1990 and 2007, has dropped by about 1 million, according to demographers at the Pew Research Center.”
It’s powerful evidence the border has never been more secure, leaving what to do about the 11 million undocumented immigrants who call America home the real issue in the immigration reform debate. But, we know all too well that’s something GOP candidates for President in 2016 just can’t bring themselves to do.
As we’ve noted before, some Republican candidates fear that humanely addressing the 11 million undocumented immigrants will cost them votes from hardline conservative voters. So instead, these candidates choose to push this canard that the border is out of control.
We know from these recent reports on border security that that claim just isn’t true. And we also know, as outlined in our recent report on 2016 Republican candidates, that saying “secure the border first” is a coded way to say “comprehensive immigration reform never.”
Sticking to this “border security” soundbite may poll well with hardline primary voters, but, as Mitt Romney knows all too well, the majority of Americans realize the folly of an enforcement-based immigration policy and are ready to put undocumented immigrants on a path to legalization.
As AV’s Frank Sharry said, “The facts are clear. Unauthorized border crossings are at historic lows. Meanwhile, the central policy challenge is to deal realistically and humanely with the 11 million undocumented immigrants settled in America.”
“Latino, Asian-American and immigrant voters see this as a threshold issue. It is against this backdrop that GOP candidates mouthing the focus-group tested soundbite of ‘secure the border first’ comes across as ridiculous.”
“Welcome to the alternate universe of the GOP primary debate.”