Imagine That: U.S. Border Crackdown Leads to Drop in Illegal Immigration
SASABE, Mexico — The sandy streets of Sasabe are empty. Migrant smugglers have to hunt for business at border-town shelters. Many deported migrants give up after one try, taking their government up on free bus rides home.
A U.S. crackdown is causing the longest and most significant drop in illegal migration from Mexico since the Sept. 11 attacks. Officials say the U.S. economic downturn, tighter security and a more perilous and expensive journey are persuading many who try to sneak into the U.S. to give up sooner.
Border Patrol arrests are down 17 percent so far this year along the U.S.-Mexico border after falling 20 percent all of last fiscal year and 8 percent the year before that. While it’s impossible to know how many people are crossing illegally, the Patrol uses apprehensions to estimate the ebb and flow of traffic.
The downturn in illegal immigration has created labor shortages throughout the United States and several states are considering temporary-worker programs, especially in agricultural fields, where produce is going bad.
Mexicans in the U.S. are starting to send less money home, too.
Money being sent back is down
Remittances soared in the early part of the decade to become Mexico’s largest source of foreign income after oil exports. But they rose just 1 percent in 2007, reaching $24 billion and in the first quarter this year, they slipped almost 3 percent from the same period last year, Mexico’s central bank said this week.