Myth: Weak Border Enforcement Has Led to High Rates of Undocumented Immigration
The opposite is in fact true.
Historically, workers from our southern neighbors would come to the use to work temporarily and would then return home. This meant that the US did not have a growing population of “illegal” immigrants. By making it harder for people to enter the US, we have ensured that these individuals do not leave the US, as leaving means they might not be able to get back in. The longer they remain in the US, the stronger their ties to the country and the less likely they are to return to their country of origin.
Immigration law is replete with examples of unintended consequences. By making it harder for people to cross the border, in an eﬀort to reduce the level of “illegal immigration,” we have in fact increased “illegal immigration” by ensuring that the decision to come to the US is to stay permanently due to the risks in crossing the border, rather than temporarily to make some money and then return home.
Another example is the deportation of gang members. In an eﬀort to combat local gangs in Los Angeles in the 1980s and 1990s, we deported hundreds, if not thousands, of Los Angeles gang members to Nicaragua and El Salvador. These young thugs’ families remained in the US, and they therefore had no support system in the countries they were deported to. Moreover, those countries had no experience dealing with gangs. The result is that what where small local gangs in Los Angeles, are now major international gangs. All due to foreseeable but unintended consequences of ill-though-out immigration policies.