Deportations actually increase immigration
When criminals return to their home countries, violent crime rates go up—and more people flee
[Read the full article at The Washington Post]
The Trump administration’s deportation policies and rhetoric have been controversial. The family separation policy, the zero tolerance policy, the language tagging immigrants as “animals” all appear to be trying to reduce the number of illegal immigrants, asylum seekers, and unaccompanied minors who come to the United States.
Yet the practice of deporting migrants, particularly those convicted of crimes, has long been a key component of U.S. immigration policy. Between 1996 and 2015 the U.S. deported almost 5.4 million people to their countries of origin; 40 percent—approximately 2.4 million—had committed a felony criminal offense.
Although few would criticize the practice of deporting criminals, our research finds that this component of border control policy generates a vicious cycle. Deportations return criminals to their home countries. In some cases, those deported criminals help develop and extend criminal networks used to traffic drugs, weapons, and people. This, in turn, increases the frequency of violent crime in those countries—which sends more people fleeing those countries and migrating to the United States.
Why are so many people from Latin America attempting to enter the United States? Although some want to be reunified with their families or hope to find better economic opportunities, the vast majority of unauthorized migrants and asylum seekers arriving at the U.S. border are escaping from widespread violence. Many flee Central America’s so-called Northern Triangle—Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala—which are among the most violent places on Earth, with homicide rates approaching that of the world’s most deadly war zones. A large number of unaccompanied Central American minors arriving at the U.S. border since 2014 are trying to escape either being killed or forced into a gang.