News

Immigration

Study: Smugglers Earned as Much as $2.3 Billion Helping Migrants Cross Border in 2017

Migrants from Honduras walk next to the U.S.-Mexico border fence in Tijuana, Mexico, Dec. 26, 2018. (Mohammed Salem/Reuters)

Smugglers pulled in anywhere from $200 million to $2.3 billion in 2017 in payments from migrants they helped enter the country illegally, according to a new study commissioned by the Department of Homeland Security.

Migrants pay from just under $4000 to over $11,000 each in smuggling fees, depending on the amount of help they request and whether it includes transit all the way from their home country and actual passage across the U.S. border, according to the study, Human Smuggling and Associated Revenues, produced by the Rand Corporation for DHS. “The wide range reflects uncertainty about the number of migrants that travel northward, their use of smugglers and the fees they pay,” the report said.

Meanwhile, drug lords charge traffickers another $30 million to $180 million annually to use their routes.

Somewhere around two-thirds of migrants who make the journey pay a smuggler to help them get across the U.S. border, the report estimated. Smugglers have also started offering packages “that reduce exposure to risks and do not require extensive physical activity, such as scaling walls or extended hikes through remote terrain,” catering to those for whom the journey is more difficult, such as pregnant women, seniors, and minors.

Transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) play a role in smuggling migrants from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, but smaller criminal operators and looser networks also exist in the market, the study found.

“The diversity and proliferation of individuals and groups involved in some aspect of human smuggling make it challenging to identify the extent to which these activities are conducted by actual TCOs,” the report said.

Arrests at the southwest border increased for the fourth straight month in May as authorities continued to grapple with an unprecedented influx of migrants from Central America. 132,887 people were arrested between ports of entry last month, up from 99,304 migrants in April, according to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection released Wednesday.

Most Popular

White House

Out of Order

A  question in the spirit of Donald Trump’s tweets this morning might be: Who’s trying harder to crash U.S. markets, the president of the United States or the president of China? After Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell didn’t forecast the loosening of monetary policy that Trump craves and China ... Read More
Film & TV

Netflix Debuts Its Obama Manifesto

This week’s widespread media blitz heralding Netflix’s broadcast of its first Obama-endorsed presentation, American Factory, was more than synchronicity. It felt as though U.S. publicists and journalists collectively exhaled their relief at finally regaining the bully pulpit. Reviews of American Factory, a ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Capital versus Tucker Carlson

Advertisers do not advertise on Tucker Carlson’s show to endorse the views of Tucker Carlson. They advertise on his show for the same reason they advertise elsewhere: a captive audience — in Tucker’s case, the second-largest one in cable news — might spare thirty seconds of attention that will, they hope, ... Read More
Natural Law

Are Your Sexual Preferences Transphobic?

Last year, a study exploring “transgender exclusion from the world of dating” was published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. Of nearly 1,000 participants, the overwhelming majority, 87.5 percent, irrespective of their sexual preference, said they would not consider dating a trans person, ... Read More