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Beverly Hills, California, United States
Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com


Friday, July 13, 2018

The Changing Face of Illegal Border Crossings

Wall Street Journal
By Jo Craven McGinty
July 12, 2018

In the early 2000s, millions of undocumented Mexicans crossed the U.S. border in search of work.

Nearly two decades later, border crossings look remarkably different. The number of Mexicans has plummeted. Other countries are now the source of most undocumented immigrants. And their motivation for taking the risk is different.

The shift is largely related to changing demographics in Mexico and the levels of violence and, in some cases, poverty in Central America.

In fiscal 2000, the U.S. Border Patrol apprehended 1.6 million Mexicans at the southwest border, according to reports by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Last fiscal year, the number was 128,000, with 176,000 more coming from other countries.

“It was the lowest level of apprehensions since 1972,” said Douglas Massey, a Princeton sociologist who gathers data on the topic as co-director of the Mexican Migration Project.

It’s unclear how many undocumented immigrants manage to get into the U.S. in a given year, but in its most recent report, the Department of Homeland Security estimated that 12.1 million lived in the U.S. in 2014, including 6.6 million Mexicans.

As the number of Mexicans attempting to cross the border has declined, the number of Central Americans—most from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras—has increased, with the demographics of the border crossers shifting as well.

Undocumented Hondurans and Salvadorans who travel to the U.S. tend to have more money and education than their peers, and they experience more violence, said Jonathan Hiskey, who analyzes survey data collected through the Latin American Public Opinion Project.

They also tend to arrive with other family members.

Last year, the Border Patrol apprehended 24,122 people who arrived with family members from El Salvador, 22,366 from Honduras and 24,657 from Guatemala.

Only 2,217 people from Mexico arrived as part of a family.

The number of unaccompanied Mexican children has also decreased. Last year, the Border Patrol apprehended 8,877, compared with about 32,000 from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

The reason for the decline in the number of Mexican migrants may have less to do with the U.S. economy or border security than with changes in Mexico.

Immigration—especially when it involves a treacherous border crossing—is a young person’s venture, according to the experts, and Mexico is not so young any more.

“If you haven’t done it by the time you’re 35, generally speaking, you’re not going to,” Dr. Hiskey said.

A baby boom in Mexico peaked in the 1960s and 1970s, and those generations are now older than that. In addition, the country’s economy has improved, reducing the need to migrate for income, and its fertility rate has declined to 2.2 children per woman from a peak of 6.8.

A rate of 2.1 is considered the minimum to maintain a stable population without immigration. (The U.S. fertility rate dropped to 1.76 last year.)

Experts who study immigration also believe the motivation for coming to the U.S. has changed, with a yearning for safety supplanting the search for income.

“The classic illegal migrant is a young male coming to work,” Dr. Massey said. “It’s increasingly families from Central America seeking to escape threats at home.”

For Hondurans and Salvadorans in particular, the strongest predictor of an intent to emigrate, according to Dr. Hiskey’s research, is whether they have been targeted by crime.

“Gender was not a significant predictor of an intent to emigrate, age was not a significant predictor and economic situation was not a significant predictor,” Dr. Hiskey said. “The strongest predictor overwhelmingly was whether someone had been victimized by crime multiple times in previous 12 months.”

On the other hand, he said, Guatemalans appear to migrate for economic reasons, perhaps because drought in recent years has worsened hunger there.

Notably, the Latin American survey suggests undocumented immigrants who come to the U.S. to escape crime aren’t deterred by the risk of emigrating or by the threat of deportation once they arrive.

“Deterrence will work on some people,” Dr. Hiskey said. “Deterrence does not work on people fleeing for their lives.”

If his assessment is correct, the flood of immigrants may have been stemmed. But a desperate trickle could persist.

For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

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