Illegal immigration to the U.S. has declined since President Trump took office in January, but not all is well at the border. A new report from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), a United Nations group that monitors global migration, says that deaths along the U.S.-Mexico border have increased by 17 percent so far this year compared with the same period last year. This despite a nearly 50 percent drop in the number of illegal border crossings this year.
Chris Cabrera with the U.S. Border Patrol tells KTRH it's not necessarily a surprise that border deaths are up while crossings are down. "What we've seen is not necessarily a slowdown in people coming across, it's just a slowdown in people turning themselves in," he says. "People have gone back to the more traditional route of getting smuggled into the country, and that is what you're seeing now."
Indeed, human smuggling is still a major problem at the southern border, as evidenced by last month's death of 10 illegal immigrants found among a large group packed into a tractor-trailer in San Antonio. Cabrera says that type of smuggling is still commonplace for illegals. "The majority of them, they come across the river or cross the fence down in Arizona, and they get put in a stash house, and then from there they get trucked up north," he says.
While the Trump Administration has increased enforcement of existing immigration laws, the rise in deaths and prominence of smuggling at the border is evidence of the need for more action, according to Cabrera. "Unfortunately with an unsecured border you're going to see more of this, and the only way to stop it is to get that border secured," he says. "Until we can secure the border, we're still going to be waving that proverbial carrot in front of their head and encouraging people to cross."