Mexico-U.S. border wall at Tijuana, Mexico (Courtesy of Tomas Castelazo via Wikimedia Commons)
Mexico-U.S. border wall at Tijuana, Mexico (Courtesy of Tomas Castelazo via Wikimedia Commons)

Sign up to stay connected

Get the top stories of the day around the DMV.

The Trump administration has requested $1 billion to go toward building and replacing 62 miles worth of wall along the United States-Mexico border, CNN reported Monday.

Citing a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report, CNN revealed that 48 miles would be new construction, and 14 miles would be “replacement fencing.” The report also notes the administration’s call for more border patrol officers.

The logistics of the border wall, widely considered the biggest speaking point for President Donald Trump while on the campaign trail, have not played out as the president indicated. Trump, while on the campaign trail, estimated the wall would cost a total of $12 billion. But a previous DHS report pegged that number at at least $20 billion. The U.S.-Mexico border is roughly 1,900 miles long.

And despite the calls for increased border security, this in itself could be easier said than done. Previous reports have already indicated that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents currently on the job are already spread thin, and tightening arrests and deportations will make this an even more demanding job. To combat this problem, three Republican senators earlier this month introduced legislation waiving lie detector tests for job applicants who already serve in law enforcement or have done military service.

The report alleges that agents are having success, according to CNN: “The documents also claim that Trump’s executive orders on immigration enforcement are already having an effect, saying arrests are up 50%, charges are up 40% and requests to detain arrested individuals who are deportable are up 80%. When asked, ICE did not have information on what the administration is using as a baseline.”

A previous statement from Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly confirmed that the number of undocumented immigrants crossing into the United States from Mexico declined by 40 percent from January to February. However, in general, data that differentiates whether a person’s status is documented or undocumented is very scarce, as previous reports have indicated, because many records do not even identify a person’s legal status.

In a 2015 interview Jessica Vaughn with the Center for Immigration Studies, a conservative organization with a strict viewpoint on immigration, said that definitive data is hard to conclude, saying “what the research shows is that there’s no evidence that immigrants are either more or less likely to commit crimes than anyone else in the population.

“The studies that claim to find that immigrants are somehow more law-abiding than Americans are based on very flawed data, because that doesn’t identify correctly necessarily what someone’s immigration status is,” she added.

Much of the available data simply identifies “immigrants” and does not specify between documented or undocumented. And these reports have largely indicated that immigrants are in fact less likely to be criminals than the native-born population.

In fact, a 2015 study by the American Immigration Council found that not only are immigrants less likely to commit serious crimes or be incarcerated than native-born residents, but high rates of immigration correlate with even lower rates of violent and property crimes.

According to the report, “roughly 1.6 percent of immigrant males age 18-39 are incarcerated, compared to 3.3 percent of the native-born.

“This disparity in incarceration rates has existed for decades, as evidenced by data from the 1980, 1990, and 2000 decennial censuses,” the authors note. “In each of those years, the incarceration rates of the native-born were anywhere from two to five times higher than that of immigrants.”

As the immigrant population has increased over the years, rates of violent crime have decreased. Between 1990 and 2013, the number of undocumented immigrants went from 3.5 million to 11.2 million.

Trump’s knowledge on immigration in general does not align with national data. In another executive order the president referred to a “recent surge of illegal immigration at the southern border with Mexico.”

However, the number of Mexican immigrants has been declining — down almost 10 percent between 2009 and 2014 — with immigrants from Asia and sub-Saharan Africa on the rise, according to the Pew Research Center’s most recent estimates. In November, Pew estimated there were 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States in 2014, accounting for 3.5 percent of the population, down from 12.2 million in 2007. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 1.3 million are from Asia.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *