Beefed-up border security has decreased the flow of illegal immigrants across the United States’ southern border since the early 1990s, making this the perfect moment to legislate new immigration laws, according to a recent Center for American Progress report.
From San Diego to the Rio Grande Valley, fences, video surveillance and other security measure have deterred immigrants from crossing the border illegally, while law enforcement agencies have been able to apprehend a higher percentage of those who attempt the crossing. From a 1992 peak of 565,581 apprehensions, the total fell to 68,565 in the San Diego border area in 2010, and from 285,781 to 12,251 in the El Paso, Texas, sector, CAP reports. Only the Tucson, Arizona, area saw more than 100,000 apprehensions last year.
In addition to being deterred by security, fewer immigrants are entering the country because U.S. labor market conditions are not currently favorable, according to the report. CAP says the low volume of new illegal immigrants makes this an ideal moment to institute large-scale reform.
The report recommends that reforms include new policies to make it easier for economic migrants to enter the country legally. This is important because CAP says the hardened southern border has led to more immigrants relying on drug cartels to facilitate their passage into the country.
State legislatures have introduced a record number of immigration-related bills in 2011. Ann Morse, program director for the Immigration Policy Project, told CNN that states are trying to spur the federal government to pass comprehensive reform.