What does fear accomplish?
It’s a question the Trump administration appears to be trying to answer, whether intentionally or not, as it cracks down on illegal immigration.
Just last week, The Washington Post reported that the administration is considering separating parents from their children if they’re caught crossing the border illegally. If implemented, the policy would mark a shift from current policy, which keeps families together. The move has received pushback from immigrant groups who argue it’s cruel, but administration officials see it as a way to discourage Central American migrants from making the journey to the United States following an uptick in family units and unaccompanied children caught at the border. Even if the policy successfully deters economic migrants however, immigrant advocates warn that it will punish the most desperate immigrants—those fleeing violence or persecution—without dissuading them.
The number of apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border dropped at the start of the Trump presidency, but has since begun to creep up again, according to Customs and Border Protection figures. In March, the Department of Homeland Security reported a 40 percent decline in apprehensions from January to February. Indeed, it appeared the mood had shifted in Central America as Trump took office. In speaking with migrants, advocates, and workers at shelters in the U.S. and Mexico, The New York Times found that people were less likely to make the journey north.