The report, published last week by the agency’s Office of Immigration Statistics, estimates that 55 to 85 percent of attempted illegal border crossings are unsuccessful, up from 35 to 70 percent a decade ago. In one telling sign of the difficulty, the number of illegal migrants and deportees who make repeated attempts to get in has also fallen dramatically, because so many would-be migrants are giving up.
The report’s findings challenge depictions of the U.S. border as a place where American law enforcement is overwhelmed and ineffective. President Trump has ordered DHS to make preparations for the construction of a wall between the United States and Mexico, and last week he met with Democratic Party leaders to negotiate additional border security improvements.
The new DHS report indicates the agency has already made significant progress in its ability to stop people from sneaking in or consider trying. Arrests along the Mexico border fell to historic lows during the Obama presidency, then dropped further after Trump took office vowing a crackdown.
“Available data indicate that the southwest land border is more difficult to illegally cross today than ever before,” the report states, while noting that the number of arrests made by U.S. agents is at its lowest point since 2000, “and likely since the early 1970s.”