Donald Trump’s Plan to Reduce Illegal Immigration Isn’t Going Very Well

How are things going down on the Southwest border? Not so good according to the Border Patrol: “During the month of March CBP saw a 37 percent increase overall when compared to February, but a 203 percent increase compared to March 2017.”

Yikes! An increase in apprehensions usually means that more people are trying to cross the border, so this represents a big jump in illegal immigration. But how are things really going? Illegal immigration is seasonal, so let’s take a look at border apprehensions just in winter so we’re comparing apples to apples:

Even if you use the average for all of winter, apprehensions are up 50 percent compared to last year. However, seasonality isn’t what it used to be. Over the past few years illegal border crossings have been only mildly seasonal, so it might be more helpful to zoom in on all monthly totals for the past few years:

A moderate drop in January followed by a rebound in February isn’t unusual, but in 2017 we got an enormous drop from January all the way through April, bringing border apprehension levels to historic lows. This is something I thought might happen: there are a few areas where pure bluster can accomplish something, and this is one of them. After Trump was elected, it’s quite possible that his loud talk, followed up by some showy raids after he took office, scared a lot of potential border crossers away:

This is a case where fear works. But will it work for long? The problem with amping up the bluster is that eventually it becomes the new normal and no longer has much effect. By that time, you really need to have an effective policy in place, and it’s not yet clear if Trump has the attention span or political skills to make that happen. We’ll see.

To give him his due, I’d say that Trump’s attention span has been fine on this issue. He keeps hammering away at it. But he hasn’t been very effective at putting together actual policies to keep illegal immigration levels low, even though Democrats have offered him some pretty good deals. But that’s our negotiator-in-chief for you. He’s spent 30 years screwing up every deal he got his hands on, and now he has an even bigger canvas to screw up on.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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