Donald Trump's immigration talk is scaring away even legal border crossings

Donald Trump's immigration talk is scaring away even legal border crossings

The number of people crossing the U.S.-Mexican border has dropped precipitously since President Donald Trump took office. Mexican newspaper La Reforma reported his hardline immigration policies have made traveling between the two countries notably more difficult for people on the southern side.

According to the Hill, the paper reported wait times for border crossings has gone up at the same time a significant increase in deportations has left numerous people left in Mexican border towns.

"I worked taking care of old people in El Paso," Ciudad Juarez resident Maria told La Reforma. "Now, I am afraid to cross."

Another person with a valid visa, Claudia, told the paper she was "scared they'll take away my visa" if she continued crossing to the U.S. to buy goods for sale.

Customs and Border Protections statistics reflect much lower numbers of "inadmissibles" since the election and, in particular, Trump's inauguration. Inadmissibles are people seeking to enter the U.S., some of whom have valid entry credentials, who are nonetheless turned back for a variety of reasons including criminal history or simply at the discretion of border officials. In December 2016, the CBP reported 15,177 people were deemed inadmissible; by January, the number had fallen to 10,895; by March, it had fallen to 4,408.

The lower number of inadmissibles likely reflects lower numbers of Mexicans attempting to enter the U.S.; the CBP statistics also showed U.S. Border Patrol apprehensions had fallen from 46,183 in October 2016 to just 12,193 in March 2017. As the New York Times recently noted, Trump's administration is touting the lower number of crossings as a success of its far-right rhetoric on undocumented immigration.

But whether the trend continues will likely rely on whether Trump is actually able to put talk into policy. The Department of Homeland Security recently issued a progress report on Trump's promise to deport millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S., noting it had procured 33,000 more detention beds for a coming crackdown as well as expedited hiring procedures for a slew of new immigration and customs officers.