No, Family Separation Did Not Deter Migrants from Coming to the U.S.
No, the policy of “zero tolerance” did not prevent migrants from coming to the U.S. According to official U.S. Border Patrol data, the trends of migration flows were similar in 2018 than in years prior.
When the Trump Administration announced its zero tolerance policy in April, which led to the practice of widespread separation of migrant children and their parents, they said the goal was to deter migrants from coming to the U.S.
“Hopefully people will get the message and come through the border at the port of entry and not break across the border unlawfully,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in an interview on Fox.
But the numbers show family separation, lauded as a horrific and cruel practice, did not deter people from coming to the U.S.
In May of this year, U.S. Border Patrol apprehended more than 40,000 migrants at the U.S. border. In May of 2017, however, there were about 14,000 migrants apprehended by border officials. This means there were almost three times as many migrants who attempted to come to the U.S. in May 2018 than in May 2017.
But maybe the policy didn’t aggressively kick in until June, right? Even if we take the recently-released data from June of this year, the numbers show us there was no deterrence. In June, there was a drop of the number of migrants that were apprehended by Border Patrol, which the Department of Homeland Security attributed to zero tolerance. But not so fast — for the past 18 years, there has always been a drop in the number of migrants coming to the U.S. in June. This is a so-called “seasonal drop.” As the Washington Office on Latin America explains, the reason for this yearly drop is the scorching summer heat on the U.S.-Mexico border.
“People aren’t going to stop going to the U.S. Unless we have some actual jobs here. I mean, who the hell wants to work for six dollars a day? We need some real jobs,” a man named Mauricio told journalist Emily Green.