Rice University immigration study finds Trump’s border policies more effective

A study from a top-ranked U.S. university concluded that former President Donald Trump’s “punitive”
policies deterred noncitizens from illegally immigrating while President Joe Biden’s “permissive” approach has led to the continuous surge of immigrants coming across the southern

Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy found that caravans, or large groups of immigrants who travel to the United States together, overwhelmingly set off for the U.S. southern border under the present administration because they believed they would face lesser consequences and potentially a reward — being permitted to reside in the country.


“We reached the conclusion that immigration policies that are perceived to be punitive in nature — including the MPP (‘Remain-in-Mexico’), ending ‘Catch and Release,’ and other Trump-era policies — affected migrant caravans negatively, or deterred their formation and movement, while perceived permissive immigration policies — including DAPA, DACA, and ending Title 42 — likely affected migrant caravans positively, or spurred their formation and movement,” the researchers wrote in the March

The analysts specifically looked at push and pull factors that prompted immigrants to join caravans traveling from Central America to the U.S.

Nearly half of the 30 caravan movements tracked between 2017 and 2022 unfolded in 2021, Biden’s first year in office.

Trump’s early opposition to allowing illegal immigrants to be released into the U.S., policy implementation that required immigrants seeking asylum to remain in Mexico during asylum decisions, and hundreds of executive actions were seen as obvious signals to immigrants entering the country without authorization that they would have to return to their country of origin.

In contrast, Biden’s decision to stop all deportations of illegal immigrants during his first 100 days in office, ceasing all border wall construction projects, and promises to remake the asylum system sent signals to people around the world that Trump’s hardening of the border had ended.


In Biden’s first two years in office, the number of immigrants encountered attempting to enter the U.S. without authorization has spiked to the highest levels ever seen.

More than 5 million immigrants have been encountered, primarily between the ports of entry, since February 2021. Pandemic public health restrictions barred immigrants from requesting asylum at ports, prompting some people to cross between the ports and get arrested, then seek refuge.

Read More: Rice University immigration study finds Trump’s border policies more effective

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