News and Commentary

Data Suggest No Relationship Between Central American Homicide Rates And Illegal U.S. Border Crossings

Today, Nick Miroff — a Washington Post national security reporter specializing in immigration enforcement and drug trafficking — found himself so flabbergasted by the latest border numbers reported by U.S. Customs and Border Protection that he could only find one word to describe the influx: “Bonkers.”

Immigration advocates often seem to cite the high rates of violence and homicide in the so-called “Northern Triangle” of Central America — comprising El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras — in justifying the large-scale numbers of prospective asylees from those countries invariably arriving at the United States’ southwestern border. El Salvador, after all, is the home of the brutal MS-13 gang, and the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center alike cite rising rates of domestic violence and gang brutality in arguing for greater American compassion for those fleeing this part of Central America.

Not so, now says the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). CIS tracked statistics for all three Northern Triangle countries over the course of 2011-2017, comparing changes in U.S.-Mexico border crossings with changes in murder rates in the corresponding Central American country of origin. Here is what CIS found:

In Honduras, murder rates have fallen by over half since 2011 — from 86.5 per 100,000 to 42.8 per 100,000 in 2017. During that same time, the annual number of apprehensions of Hondurans at the U.S.-Mexico border quadrupled, albeit with fluctuations. …

Guatemala saw a very similar trend, with murder rates falling from 38.6 per 100,000 to 19.0 per 100,000 between 2011 and 2017. At the same time, the annual number of Guatemalan apprehensions more than tripled — from approximately 18,000 to 66,000. …

El Salvador’s murder rate has seen large annual year-to-year swings, as low as 40 per 100,000 in 2013 and then more than doubling to over 100 per 100,000 in 2015. Meanwhile, the number of Salvadoran border apprehensions has risen dramatically, peaking in 2016.

The upshot, as CIS notes, is that “[t]here are a range of push-and-pull factors responsible for migration,” and there is no doubt that fleeing violence or gang brutality plays a role — perhaps even an outsized role — for some. But the general statistics simply do not show any base level of correlation of murder rates and U.S.-Mexico border crossings for natives of any of the three Northern Triangle nations. Instead, as CIS notes elsewhere, there are overwhelmingly more Guatemalans who tell pollsters that they flee for the U.S.-Mexico border due to economic reasons than there are Guatemalans who tell pollsters that they flee for the U.S.-Mexico border due to violence/safety reasons.

As The Daily Wire reported last November, furthermore, the mass “caravans” of U.S.-Mexico border arrivals often contain some less-than-savory characters among them:

The migrant caravan that is amassing at the San Diego border contains over 500 criminals, the Department of Homeland Security warned Monday. Contrary to reports by the media and immigrant activists, DHS officials said, the vast majority of the migrants are men, not women and children. …

Among the 6,000 migrants [of the “caravan”] are more than 500 known criminals, officials said. Mexican officials expect the number of migrants aggregating in Tijuana near the San Ysidro border crossing to exceed 10,000 soon, and that swelling number of asylum-seekers will require housing, which the government says it does not have the resources to provide.

The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Data Suggest No Relationship Between Central American Homicide Rates And Illegal U.S. Border Crossings