The main argument of those opposing immigration reform is that the southern border needs to be secured before any normalization of the migrants’ status can be approved. Legislators and Republicans aspiring to the presidency talk as if the country were under a growing invasion by people crossing in from Mexico, when the reality is vastly different.
Crossings have consistently decreased in the past years – even before the 2008 recession – except for the months in 2014 when scores of Central American mothers and children came into the U.S. This year, the numbers continue to drop.
The figures are based on a presentation, made by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson last Friday, regarding border security during the last six months in the 2015 fiscal year. The reduction in crossing instances was calculated using the number of detentions, which have decreased significantly. At the same time, Operation Coyote, launched in June of 2014, arrested more than 1,356 human traffickers.
Today, the southern border is better patrolled than ever. A record 21,000 Border Patrol agents are on site, the barb wire area was extended, and there are nearly 12,000 sensors detecting undocumented migration in the Southwest. President Obama’s latest budget states that investments in these areas will increase.
Nevertheless, these considerable improvements do not correspond with the political strategy of attracting supporters by scaring them about supposedly out-of-control immigration, and by instilling animosity towards immigrants. Aside from being unrealistic – given the geographic characteristics of the frontier, – the demand for a sealed border lends itself to demagoguery. But impossible demands can be made during election season, and the undocumented and their advocates can be blamed for the failure to make those goals come true.
The biggest obstacles in holding a real debate about immigration are the deceitful discourses, the games of perception created to confuse the population, and the use of an emotionally-charged “logic” which passes as reasonable even when it can be disproved with data.
For those who oppose comprehensive immigration reform, the Southern border will never be safe enough to approve legalization of the undocumented. However, the truth is that it is more secure today than ever before.