Under international law, migrants long have been flocking to the U.S.-Mexico border to seek asylum and be allowed entry. In recent months, Trump administration policies have slowed the flow of asylum seekers into the U.S., leaving many migrants stranded far from home, vulnerable to violence in dangerous border cities and unable to request asylum. Determined to find a way in, some migrants are increasingly turning to criminal smuggling rings to get to the U.S., where they can then request asylum and seek safety, reports USA Today. The backlog in processing asylum seekers is inadvertently bolstering the illicit and dangerous trade, creating an increased demand for human smuggling and illegal border crossings at a time when President Trump has threatened another partial government shutdown if his proposed border wall isn’t authorized
Starting last summer, U.S. Border and Customs Protection started a program known as “metering,” where only a limited number of asylum-seekers are allowed through legal ports of entry each day, creating a backlog of migrants on the Mexican side of the border. The White House is implementing a new policy under which some migrants given a U.S. immigration hearing will be removed to Mexico to await their day in court. Current U.S. law allows some migrants to stay in the U.S. until their court date arrives. The Pentagon is sending 3,750 more troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to help lay down concertina wire and support Border Patrol units, bringing the total number of active-duty troops on the border to 4,350. Migrant advocates and analysts say the steady military build-up at the border also make asylum-seekers seek out illegal smugglers to guide them across more remote areas of the border.