How Dangerous is Illegal Immigration?

Oftentimes the Left frames the argument surrounding securing our border as a division between selfish individuals only concerned about the safety of American citizens versus moral individuals with compassion for migrants. While statistics support the claim that illegal border crossings pose a serious threat to our national security (including the fact that 66 people on the terror watch list and 23,264 individuals with criminal convictions were stopped trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in 2022), bizarrely, the question remains: do statistics similarly support the claim that the desire for a strong and secure border is immoral?

While reading a March 6th, 2023, article about Mexican officials finding 340 migrants in a truck trailer (including 103 unaccompanied minors in Mexico), it reminded me of last summer’s gruesome finding of over 50 migrants who died locked in a hot truck in Texas while being smuggled across our border into the U.S.  Even though the article referenced that unfortunate event, it failed to adequately address the realities of the risks of illegal border crossing.  We know that coyotes and drug cartels have created an industry of moving masses of people from Mexico, Asia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and other places across our southern border with seemingly few consequences.  But is there more reason to be alarmed and can we use statistics to further examine how dangerous it is to be an immigrant crossing our border illegally?

This piqued my interest to continue reading and found that as of October 2022 “at least 853 immigrants died trying to cross the US-Mexico border unlawfully in the previous 12 months.”  The article closed by mentioning “U.S. Border Patrol apprehended a record 2.2 million immigrants at the south-west border in the same period.”  Since the official data is yet to be released, we can logically estimate that our U.S. Border Patrol apprehended approximately 2.3 million immigrants, with 900 dying illegally crossing our U.S.-Mexico border last year.  Though this was an interesting statistic, it doesn’t comparatively mean much on its own.  I needed a reference point to show how these numbers relate to other data points in our country.  We could put it into a comprehensible perspective by comparing it to the death rates of things we’re more familiar with. 

I decided to divide the illegal immigrant deaths by the number of apprehensions to come up with a death rate of 0.04% or 39 deaths per 100,000 illegal migrants.  Based on this data, the death rate of these illegal border crossings is about five-hundredths of one percent (0.05%).  Again, that figure on its own doesn’t mean much to many of us and could be mistakenly taken as a surprisingly small number.  However, let’s look at the death rate of known hazards to our population of approximately 333M people in 2022.

According to a Jan 17th, 2023, article and a report, there were approximately 270,000 deaths in the U.S. due to COVID in 2022.  Compared to the total population of the U.S., this equates to a death rate of 0.08% or 82 deaths per 100,000…almost twice the rate of illegal immigrant deaths.  What’s interesting though is comparing this data to the overall leading causes of death in the U.S., being Heart Disease, Cancer, COVID-19, Accidents, and Stroke according to  These are the top five leading causes of death in the U.S. at rates ranging from a high of 0.2% (Heart Disease) to a low of 0.04% (Stroke).  Note that Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Liver Disease, etc. all have lower death rates than illegal border crossings.

Let’s consider another argument that Democrats like to make regarding gun violence.  Death by guns in the U.S. is oftentimes presented as a MAJOR crisis that calls for drastic action such as subverting our second amendment and infringing on our rights to keep and bear arms.  According to, “…data from the Centers for Disease Control also showed more than 48,000 firearm homicides and suicides in 2021 for the first time. The age-adjusted gun death rate of 14.8 per 100,000 people was the highest since 1993, a high-water mark for American gun violence…” Note that 2022 gun violence rates ticked down from 2021.  So, compared to the death rate of illegal immigrants in 2022 which was 39 deaths per 100,000 immigrants, 14.80 per 100,000 gun deaths are much less.  This should raise questions as to why Democrats wouldn’t be the first to secure borders and strengthen immigration policy to reduce the death rates of these illegal immigrants seeking asylum. 

Based on the data, illegally crossing our border has a death rate, for those attempting to cross, which would rank amongst the top five causes of death for American citizens.  I acknowledge there can be debate between total deaths and death rates, however, these figures link the human danger associated with weak immigration policy and highlight the hypocrisy of those who declare a secure border as being inhumane.  The moral high ground is on the side of those of us who demand strong and secure borders, not those who allow weak and porous borders.

A significant part of the government’s role is to create and enforce our laws, like with any illegality; the goal is to discourage such illegal behavior, ultimately providing protection and safety to our citizens. In this case, compassion for those seeking asylum, refuge, or citizenship, is ingrained in strong immigration law and border enforcement. 

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