I suppose a good number of illegal border crossers (illegal immigrants, criminals, asylum rejects, etc) would have to attempt to cross the border several times before either giving up or making it to the US side. So, for documenting purposes, for every attempt caught, how many repeated offence on average happened? Does anybody have the statistic? Kinda hard to find an obscure number through Google-ing.

  • I'm trying to think of a better way to phrase this question. "Illegals" is not the right word, you mean people who have crossed the border illegally and subsequently been convicted. – user Dec 10 '18 at 10:08
  • By "illegal", I simply mean somebody who's in the US illegally. So people that got in the US not through the lawful way of going through border authorities. Doesn't matter if they are simply undocumented immigrants (I really should have used "undocumented immigrants" instead of "illegal immigrants" above), criminals (escaping from the law or working for organizations) or ... I don't have a third example, so I just wrote down "asylum rejects" – kozner Dec 10 '18 at 12:26
  • "people that got in the US not through the lawful way of going through border authorities": Would you include US citizens who cross the border somewhere other than a CBP post? – phoog Dec 10 '18 at 15:58
  • Also, what's your criterion for "success"? If someone is apprehended after five minutes, that's presumably a failure. If they're apprehended after ten years, it was presumably a success. Where is the threshold between those cases? – phoog Dec 10 '18 at 16:04

The number of attempts before either getting past the Border Force or being caught has decreased markedly in the last 10-15 years. Most border-crossers either succeed on the first attempt, or give up after the first failure.

It was true that in the past, most people who were caught were returned to Mexico and just tried again, until they were successful. That is increasingly untrue. Research on this is difficult, as undocumented immigrants don't normally want to draw attention to themselves, but in a DHS report by Bryan Roberts (reported on in an azcentral article) he finds that the number of successful crossings has dropped to 10% of what it was in 2005, and the probability that an unsuccessful crosser will give up has risen dramatically, from about 10% to between 60% and 70%.

The probability that a border crosser will be caught has also increased, to about 50%-60%, and if caught the probability that the crosser will be prosecuted or detained has risen too.

From these statistics, we can estimate that of roughly 350,000 people who attempt the crossing, about half (175,000) will be successful on their first attempt. About 110,000 will fail and make no further attempts. About 30000 will succeed on the second attempt, and the average number of attempts will be between 1.25 and 1.5.

Heightened security at the border is a significant factor in this, as it makes it more difficult, and hence more costly to get past the border force, and hence reduces the number of repeat attempts. The report suggests that the price paid to smugglers has risen from $1500 to $6000. This high price deters repeat attempts.

  • There's nothing called the Border Force in the US. Perhaps you should write "border force" as a common noun, or name the (many) agencies that are charged with enforcing immigration regulations, or name the Department of Homeland Security (which includes some agencies that aren't concerned with immigration enforcement). – phoog Dec 10 '18 at 16:02
  • Can you please include the methodology of that report's research? (at least a summary) so its reliability can be evaluated? – user4012 Dec 10 '18 at 20:36
  • No, because the report is an unpublished DHS report that was leaked to the AP in 2016. You'll have to read the media analysis unless and until the DHS publishes the report in full. – James K Dec 10 '18 at 21:25

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