Despite nearly 40 percent more people held in immigration detention compared to when President Joe Biden took office, research shows that the threat of detention and deportation doesn’t dissuade migrants from making the journey to the southern border, reports Vox. A paper published earlier this month found that the threat of immigration enforcement has no significant effect on people’s decision to migrate from Mexico and Central America’s “Northern Triangle”: Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. An experiment that was included in the 2018-2019 AmericasBarometer survey of nearly 11,000 voting-age adults across the four countries found that about 21 percent said they were “a little likely to go,” 10 percent said they were “somewhat likely,” and roughly another 10 percent said “very likely” even in the face of stricter enforcement rules.
Another study that analyzed 2014 survey data from more than 3,000 people in 12 Honduran municipalities with varying rates of homicide and crime victimization found that the survey takers’ views of the dangers of migration to the U.S. and the likelihood of deportation did not seem to influence their plans to migrate in any meaningful way. The factor that was most associated with people’s desire to migrate was whether they were victims of crimes, as is the case for many asylum seekers fleeing gang violence in Honduras. A 2016 paper found that the rapid expansion of immigration enforcement in the years following 1986, the last time that a major immigration law was passed, actually caused more migrants to decide to settle in the U.S. permanently. The number of undocumented immigrants living in the US has increased from roughly 3 million in 1986 to over 11 million today.