Migrants are making riskier journeys to cross the U.S. border illegally, reports the Wall Street Journal. In late August, 23 Chinese immigrants crawled through a cramped tunnel from Mexico into California, where they were arrested. In Texas, Border Patrol agents found dozens of people this summer hidden inside tractor-trailers trying to sneak through highway checkpoints. Ten people died in a smuggling effort inside a sweltering trailer found parked in a San Antonio Wal-Mart in July. President Trump has made cracking down on illegal immigration a priority. He has promised to arrest and quickly deport people trying to sneak into or living illegally in the U.S., build a wall at the Mexican border and hire at least 5,000 new Border Patrol agents. Though many of those measures have yet to materialize, the number of people caught crossing the border since Trump took office has plummeted.
While that falloff may reflect the deterrent effect of the administration’s hard-line approach, there has also been a longer-term shift in the pattern of illegal migration. Douglas Massey of the Mexican Migration Project at Princeton University said the demographics of illegal border crossers has changed in the last decade, with most of those trying to sneak into the U.S. now coming from countries other than Mexico. As recently as 2014, Mexicans made up more than half of illegal crossers. “Now what you are seeing are people who are more desperate,” Massey said. Smugglers have raised their prices as the border has become more fortified. “You are paying more for more services. The cost of getting though the border without inspection has really skyrocketed.” A Homeland Security report said smuggling fees for Mexicans and Central Americans have gone from a few thousand dollars less than a decade ago to as much as $8,000 per person recently.