By Diana Washington Valdez/El Paso Times
Spikes in the number of Border Patrol apprehensions tend to follow major economic upheavals in Mexico, statistics show.
(More than half of the people apprehended each year are from Mexico.) Here are some examples:
* The 1,443 percent peso devaluation of the Mexican peso in 1982, during the Miguel De la Madrid
administration: 819,919 apprehensions in fiscal year 1992, compared to 1.1 million apprehensions in fiscal year 1993.
* The 8.1 magnitude earthquake centered in Mexico City in 1985 that killed more than 10,000 people and displaced millions: 12 million apprehensions in fiscal year 1985, which rose to 1.6 million apprehensions in fiscal year 1986.
* The North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect Jan. 1, 1994, the same year that
Mexicans saw their currency devalue suddenly by 50 percent, during the Ernesto Zedillo administration. Economists said the 1994 peso crisis set back Mexico’s emerging middle class: one million apprehensions were reported in fiscal year 1994, compared to 1.3 million apprehensions in fiscal year 1995, followed by 1.5 million apprehensions in fiscal year 1996.
According to a 1995 article “Illegal Immigration and the Peso Devaluation” in an issue of Migration News, produced by the University of California-Davis, “Experts predicted in 1994 that Operation Gatekeeper would reduce illegal immigration from Mexico.
“But then came the 50 percent devaluation of the Mexican peso, and the number of (undocumented immigrants) apprehended jumped in January and February 1995 over 30 percent above year earlier levels, with especially sharp increases in apprehensions in Arizona.”
Operation Gatekeeper was instituted in 1994 at the San Diego-Tijuana border after the success of El Paso’s Operation Hold the Line.
The PEW Research Center (www.pewresearch.org) had reported previously that the Great Recession of 2006 in the United States led to an exodus of migrants from Mexico, and more recently, the center and other experts speculate that better economic conditions may explain the latest rise in undocumented immigrants.
Border Patrol rescues
In the El Paso sector, the number of Border Patrol rescues rose dramatically in fiscal year 2004 (483 rescues) and in fiscal year 2005 (500 rescues).
El Paso’s Border Patrol also rescued 119 people in fiscal year 2006, before the numbers dropped off again in later fiscal years. (See figures in the El Paso Times, Sept. 29, 2013, “Holding the Line,” Part I, Special Report; (http://www.elpasotimes.com/news/ci_24199714)
Border Patrol Agent and agency spokesman Ramiro Cordero said the only explanation he had was the “additional traffic in immigrants” that Border Patrol agents encountered.
Cordero said the Border Patrol had no information on whether the migrants rescued represented people who were fleeing the drug violence in Juarez, Mexico, where two drug cartels were at war.
Although some Juarez residents moved to El Paso and vicinity during the drug cartel violence, not everyone wanting to flee had documents to cross the U.S> border legally.
Diana Washington Valdez may be reached at email@example.com; 546-6140.