Border Crackdown Has Been Bad For The Human Smuggling Business

Fewer people are paying to cross the border, and costs have gone up for those who do.

By Laura RiceMay 29, 2017 11:46 am,

President Donald Trump’s tough talk on immigration and the increases in raids and deportations appear to be partly responsible for the decrease in illegal border crossing apprehensions. Since Trump took office, crossings have gone down 40 percent along the southwest border, and dropped 75 percent in the Rio Grande Valley, the busiest illegal crossing spot in the nation.

Following the rules of supply and demand, the decrease in border crossing attempts is having an impact on the illegal business of human smuggling.

NPR’s Austin-based Southwest Correspondent John Burnett has been following this issue, and he met up with ‘El Lobo,’ a human smuggler in Matamoros, Mexico, which is located directly across the border from Brownsville.

“‘El Lobo’ says the smuggling business is a lot harder these days because the U.S. border patrol is making it more difficult,” Burnett says. “He says there is more security on the river… he sees more agents, more dogs, more trucks, more ATVs, more boats and just more protection in general down by the riverside that makes his job harder to cross people illegally.”

The Rio Grande sector of the border patrol has been surging agents to the Rio Grande River in recent weeks as part of a special operation, says Burnett.

As a result, ‘El Lobo’s’ business has gone down by more than half. He once had 30 to 40 clients a week, and now helps 10 to 15 people cross the river.

But that hasn’t meant a decrease in revenues for smuggler’s like ‘El Lobo.’

“He said the price of going from Matamoros to Brownsville has gone from $2,500 to $4,800,” Burnett says.

Burnett’s story will appear on NPR later this week.

Written by Molly Smith.