Mexicans in border communities are avoiding crossing into the United States legally, scared away by inconveniences and threats related to tougher border enforcement, according to the Reforma newspaper.
Wait times for border crossings have increased during the Trump administration, while increased deportations have left a glut of migrants stuck in Mexican border cities, the report found.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the law enforcement agency in charge of border security, reported that the number of "inadmissibles" — people seeking entry turned away at the border — plummeted in the first three months of the year.
Those numbers point to a drastic reduction in legal crossing attempts, since inadmissibles are a measure of people who try to enter the United States with a visa or other documentation.
Mexicans in border cities regularly cross the border, many on a daily basis, to visit friends and family, attend school, work or purchase goods. Some of those who cross with tourist visas work illegally in the United States and return home at night.
Maria, a resident of Ciudad Juarez, told Reforma she no longer goes to El Paso to work, where she took care of senior citizens for 12 years, making $50 a day.
"I worked taking care of old people in El Paso. Now, I am afraid to cross," said Maria, adding she was afraid her tourist visa could be taken away by the CBP.
Claudia, a Ciudad Juarez merchant, said she stopped buying goods in El Paso to sell in Mexico.
"I would cross often to buy clothes and stuff to sell here, but now I'm scared they'll take away my visa," Claudia said.