The New York Times has admitted that President Trump’s hardline stance on illegal immigration has scared off potential migrants from entering the country illegally from nations all over Central and South America.
From The New York Times:
His bags were packed, and the smuggler was ready. If all went well, Eswin Josué Fuentes figured he and his 10-year-old daughter would slip into the United States within days.
Then, the night before he planned to leave, he had a phone conversation with a Honduran friend living illegally in New York. Under President Trump, the friend warned, the United States was no longer a place for undocumented migrants.
Shaken, Mr. Fuentes abruptly ditched his plans in May and decided to stay here in Honduras, despite its unrelenting violence and poverty. He even passed up the $12,000 in smuggler fees that his sister in the United States had lined up for the journey.
“I got scared of what’s happening there,” Mr. Fuentes said.
While some of Mr. Trump’s most ambitious plans to tighten the border are still a long way off, particularly his campaign pledge to build a massive wall, his hard-line approach to immigration already seems to have led to sharp declines in the flow of migrants from Central America bound for the United States.
From February through May, the number of undocumented immigrants stopped or caught along the southwest border of the United States fell 60 percent from the same period last year, according to United States Customs and Border Protection — evidence that far fewer migrants are heading north, officials on both sides of the border say.
Inside the United States, the Trump administration has cast a broader enforcement net, including reversing Obama-era rules that put a priority on arresting serious criminals and mostly left other undocumented immigrants alone. Arrests of immigrants living illegally in the United States have soared, with the biggest increase coming among those migrants with no criminal records.
The shift has sown a new sense of fear among undocumented immigrants in the United States. In turn, they have sent a warning back to relatives and friends in their homelands: Don’t come.
The message is loud and clear here in Honduras. Manuel de Jesús Ríos Reyes, 55, stood in the unforgiving sun outside a reception center for deportees from the United States. His wife, who tried to cross the American border illegally in March, was on an incoming flight.
Mindful of the warnings from the United States, Mr. Ríos had urged her not to go. “She didn’t pay attention,” he recalled. “Now she’s here. Thank God, she’s alive.”
If his wife talks about trying to cross again, he said, he will redouble his pleas. “Ah, my love,” he planned to tell her. “Stay here.”
Many in the Central American countries known as the Northern Triangle — El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — appear to be doing just that. Those nations have accounted for many of the undocumented immigrants who have tried to cross the American border in recent years. Now the wariness about Mr. Trump’s immigration policies is palpable, the impact visible.
Migrant smugglers in Honduras say their business has dried up since Mr. Trump took office. Fewer buses have been leaving the northern Honduran city of San Pedro Sula bound for the border with Guatemala, the usual route for Honduran migrants heading overland to the United States. In hotels and shelters along the migrant trail, once-occupied beds go empty night after night.
Marcos, a migrant smuggler based near San Pedro Sula, said that last year he had taken one or two groups each month from Honduras to the United States border. Since Mr. Trump’s inauguration, however, he has had only one client. He blames Mr. Trump.
“People think he’s going to kick everyone out of the country,” Marcos said, asking that his full name not be published because of the illegal nature of his work. “Almost nobody’s going.”