March 6, 2019
Deterrence as an immigration strategy is not only inhumane; it doesn’t work!
Though irregular crossings into the United States are well below peak years during the 1990s, February had the highest number of arrests for illegal entry in a single month in almost 10 years. The arrests are increasingly of family units or unaccompanied children, and the Trump administration’s crackdown at the border is making the situation worse. By restricting access for asylum seekers through regular points of entry, the administration’s policy may be encouraging more people to cross outside of official points, thus leading to the increase in arrests. More detail on the numbers from NPR.
A detail analysis of migration conducted a few years ago documented that deterrence strategies do not work. The primary reason people are fleeing Central America is violence and they will continue to flee as long as the violence continues, whatever is done at the border.
In June last year, the Vera Institute released a report on Operation Streamline that similarly found that prosecutions at the border had no effect on decisions to migrate:
The analysis reported here found no evidence to suggest that Operation Streamline had any impact on migrants’ decisions to enter the United States. Operation Streamline succeeded only in clogging federal courts, eroding due process, and incarcerating tens of thousands of people.
The failure to address the root causes of migration and new policies making it harder for people to cross into the country legally are driving the recent spike in arrests.
Spike in white supremacist propaganda
The Anti-Defamation League released a report documenting a dramatic expansion of white supremacist propaganda last year. The report covers new tactics that try to mainstream messaging in posters and flyers. There has also been an increase in public demonstrations, though they are often organized as “flash mobs” to avoid counter-protests. NPR on Anti-Defamation League Report:
ADL counted 1,187 incidents of propaganda in 2018, up from 421 incidents in 2017. While college campuses remain a primary target, most of that increase occurred off of college campuses, with 868 incidents in 2018, up from 129 the year before. The alt-right also uses banners to promote its message, the ADL said, counting 32 instances of white supremacist banners hung in high-visibility locations such as highway overpasses.
Increased propaganda efforts "allow them to maximize media and online attention, while limiting the risk of individual exposure, negative media coverage, arrests and public backlash," the ADL wrote.
A second report on Murder and Extremism by the ADL documents an increase in killings by political extremists last year over 2017, documenting that in nearly all of 50 cases of extremist murder in 2018, the perpetrator had a connection to some white supremacist organization. From the executive summary:
In 2018, domestic extremists killed at least 50 people in the U.S., a sharp increase from the 37 extremist-related murders documented in 2017, though still lower than the totals for 2015 (70) and 2016 (72). The 50 deaths make 2018 the fourth-deadliest year on record for domestic extremist-related killings since 1970.
The extremist-related murders in 2018 were overwhelmingly linked to right-wing extremists. Every one of the perpetrators had ties to at least one right-wing extremist movement, although one had recently switched to supporting Islamist extremism. White supremacists were responsible for the great majority of the killings, which is typically the case.
Deadly shooting sprees were a major factor in the high death toll. Five of the 17 incidents involved shooting sprees that caused 38 deaths and injured 33 people.