For three years, first as a presidential candidate, then as president of the United States, Donald Trump has insisted that the country must stem immigration by building a wall along its southern border – an expensive gambit that few Americans support and that Democratic lawmakers virulently oppose.
Now, he’s even shut down the federal government over this unmet campaign promise. In a Jan. 8 televised address, Trump insisted that it would stay closed until Congress agreed to a $5.7 billion steel barrier to “protect our country.”
But is there a crisis at the southern border?
Unlawful border crossings have actually declined since 2014, when 569,236 people — most of them Central American — were detained at the southern border, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Last year, 521,090 migrants were caught trying to enter the country unlawfully.
Here, immigration experts explain who’s trying to get into the United States, what they want, and why immigration — even undocumented immigration — actually benefits the country.
1. Most Central American migrants are asylum-seekers
Central American migration is heavily driven by fear, according to researcher Jonathan Hiskey of Vanderbilt University.
“An increasing number of individuals are now arriving at the U.S. southwest border because of crime, violence and insecurity in Central America,” he writes.
With 60 murders per 100,000 people in 2017, El Salvador was the deadliest place in the world that was not at war. Almost 4,000 people were killed there in 2017. That year New York City, which has a much larger population, saw 292 killings.
Honduras’ murder rate has plummeted since 2014, but with 42.8 murders per 100,000 people in 2017, it is still one of the world’s most dangerous places.
Source: Is there a crisis at the US-Mexico border? 6 essential reads : The Conversation