Since the mid-1990s, the US government has relied on an immigration strategy deemed “prevention through deterrence.” The idea was simple: If you make it more difficult for people to cross into the United States, then the number who tried would dwindle.

However, the policies have had numerous unintended consequences, including bolstering criminal organizations along the US-Mexico border. Today, human smuggling has transformed into one of the most lucrative industries for crime groups, which have diversified beyond their traditional criminal activities of smuggling drugs and weapons.

But the powerful organized crime groups operating along the US-Mexico border have also taken advantage in other ways, particularly through extorting migrants and targeted kidnappings for ransom. Official corruption also expanded as the US government increased its reliance on third countries like Mexico for enforcement and pushed migrants to remain in these countries.

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