Greg Abbott’s Border Wall Plan Is Doomed To Fail

“Abbott has so far provided little information about how he will finance the project, which will undoubtedly carry a hefty price tag. In Texas, one section of Trump’s border wall came out to be $27 million a mile. Abbott intends to provide $250 million in state revenues as a “down payment.” Those funds will come from a disaster account, a transfer made possible because he issued a disaster declaration in order to take a number of executive actions against migration. Abbott also expects that crowdfunding will help supplement state funds. So far, that effort has collected roughly $450,000.

David Donatti, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas who specializes in border issues, has concerns about Abbott’s financial approach.

“He has declared a disaster, and by that authority, he’s moving $250 million into an account that allows him to” build a border wall, says Donatti. “For a state like Texas,” $250 million “is a lot of money…that could be used for hurricane recovery, toward recovery from something like the freeze that we experienced.” Donatti calls it “an absurd abuse of power if nothing else,” even though the result of that abuse would provide “an ineffective solution to people coming to the United States.”

According to the governor, construction would also hinge on voluntary land concessions from borderlands residents. In Texas, most land along the border with Mexico is privately owned. That gives Abbott two options: either entice landowners to donate their property or seize it from the unwilling. To build his wall, Trump chose to initiate land grabs in the borderlands through eminent domain, which is a legal doctrine that allows the government to seize private property for public use. Affected landowners nominally must receive just compensation, though practically the process is rife with abuse.”

“Regardless of the wall’s future, Abbott is already implementing policies beyond a physical barrier to keep migrants out. As Reason’s Billy Binion reported, Abbott “has directed the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDJC) to clear out the Dolph Biscoe Unit, a state prison in Dilley, Texas, so that law enforcement can arrest and detain some undocumented migrants there.” He’s made it so that migrants are subject to “aggravated trespassing” charges, a misdemeanor, giving the state the authority to arrest migrants who are otherwise governed by federal immigration frameworks. As Donatti points out, that “quite clearly tramples on the federal government’s prerogative to immigration control.” Abbott has also revoked licenses for child care services found to be looking after undocumented migrant kids, which might lead to those minors being shuttled into inadequate emergency detention facilities.”

The false promises of more immigration enforcement

“The US started dramatically ramping up immigration enforcement in the 1990s with bipartisan support. The line of thinking was that making it more expensive and arduous to cross the border would dissuade more people from making the journey in the first place. It became the preferred strategy for policymakers because it was easy to sell to constituents, even though it wasn’t necessarily grounded in a deep understanding of the factors driving unauthorized immigration.

But a growing body of research shows that the threat of immigration enforcement isn’t an effective deterrent for migrants in the long run. Emily Ryo, a professor of law and sociology at the USC Gould School of Law, found in a paper published earlier this month that it has no significant effect on people’s decision to migrate from Mexico and Central America’s “Northern Triangle”: Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.

In cooperation with Vanderbilt University and the Latin American Public Opinion Project, she designed an experiment that was included in the 2018-’19 AmericasBarometer survey of nearly 11,000 voting-age adults across the four countries. She divided the respondents into three groups and provided them with different prompts offering information about how many migrants are apprehended by US officials when trying to cross the border, subject to detention for an indefinite period of time, and face a lack of judicial process when it comes to their deportation. They were then asked how likely it would be that they would choose to live and work in the US in the next three years.

The patterns in responses across the groups were strikingly similar, though they were provided with different information about US immigration enforcement policy. Most said they weren’t likely to go to the US, but in all three groups, about 21 percent said they were “a little likely to go,” 10 percent said they were “somewhat likely,” and roughly another 10 percent said “very likely.”

Knowledge about US deportation and detention policy didn’t have any significant effect on their intentions to migrate.”

“Another study, conducted by Vanderbilt University political science professor Jonathan Hiskey and co-authors, similarly found that knowledge of heightened US deterrence efforts didn’t influence people’s decision to migrate.”

“Another unintended effect of US immigration enforcement has been the increase in the number of undocumented immigrants living in the US from roughly 3 million in 1986 to over 11 million today. Princeton sociologist Doug Massey and his co-authors found in a 2016 paper that the rapid expansion of immigration enforcement in the years following 1986, the last time that a major immigration law was passed, actually caused more migrants to decide to settle in the US permanently.

Before then, Mexican men had moved back and forth across the border, usually looking for opportunities for temporary work and crossing in El Paso and San Diego. The US’s decision to expand immigration enforcement didn’t really alter their ability to cross the border. They weren’t much more likely to be apprehended when they attempted to cross, and even if they were discovered by US immigration officials and swiftly returned to Mexico, they could still succeed after multiple attempts.

What changed, however, was the costs and risks associated with returning to their home country and then attempting to reenter the US. Migrants had to start crossing in more dangerous regions of the border, going through the Sonoran Desert and Arizona, and came to rely more heavily on the services of paid smugglers, which became more expensive. Between 1980 and 2010, the probability that a migrant would return after their first trip to the US consequently dropped from 48 percent to zero, according to Massey’s paper.

“The combination of increasingly costly and risky trips and the near certainty of getting into the United States created a decision-making contest in which it still made economic sense to migrate but not to return home to face the high costs and risks of subsequent entry attempts,” the authors write in the paper.

In this way, immigration enforcement had the opposite of the intended effect. And the authors write that if policymakers had never increased border patrol’s funding beyond accounting for inflation, the population of undocumented immigrants living in the US likely would have “grown substantially less.””

Kinder, Gentler Family Separation?

“It would be a false equivalence to say that all approaches to family separation are equally illiberal. “Obama did absolutely separate children,” Nowrasteh says. “That’s absolutely true, and Biden’s going to do it too. He’s probably already doing it in some cases that are unjust. But the difference was that the Trump administration did it systematically to basically everyone.”

Still, a return to the status quo ante is only an improvement when compared to a policy like zero tolerance. Biden promised he’d be better on immigration—not just better than Trump but also better than his former boss. In many ways, he has yet to deliver on that promise.”

Biden Keeps Another Trump Border Policy in Place

“Biden has continued much of the Trump administration’s approach to immigration: separating families, overfilling detention facilities, and plainly telling people to stay away. One such holdover policy is Title 42.

Invoked by Trump in March 2020, Title 42 is a section of the Public Health Service Act that grants federal health officials broad discretion to enact disease mitigation measures. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) used it to issue an order barring certain kinds of arrivals to the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada while permitting other forms of international movement to continue. It allows Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officials to expel migrants immediately upon arrival.”

“Migrants expelled from the U.S. under Title 42 face hostile conditions similar to those subjected to another Trump policy, the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). Known as “Remain in Mexico,” MPP relegated asylum seekers south of the border while they awaited decisions in their immigration cases. There, many faced murder, rape, and torture. Biden did away with the policy just weeks ago, but his continued operation of Title 42 contradicts his campaign promise to “restore our asylum laws so that they do what they should be designed to do.”

Those dangers to migrants continue under Biden. “These individuals are being pushed back into very dangerous environments in northern Mexico,” says Zak. “Migrants are at very serious risk of being exploited by gangs and traffickers.” He adds that “Human Rights First has documented 492 instances of publicly reported attacks and kidnappings against asylum seekers in Mexico since Biden took office,” many against those expelled under Title 42.

In spite of this harsh approach, Title 42 has likely exacerbated the very issue it sought to tackle: the high volume of asylum seekers crossing the border. Zak says that the recidivism rate—individuals who were apprehended, expelled, and apprehended again by CBP—has “skyrocketed.” That rate “tended to hover around 10 percent” prior to Title 42 and has hit 38 percent as of May 2021. Zak says this is partially because “individuals (particularly single adults) are expelled extremely quickly,” thus encouraging multiple crossings. There is also no formal penalty for repeat crossings under Title 42. With that uptick in mind, the reasons for increased apprehensions at the border become clearer—and Biden’s approach to immigration less so.”

Trump’s Border Policies Let More Immigrants Sneak In

“President Trump’s top policy priority was supposedly “border security.” But government data show that he failed to improve it. Border Patrol recorded 41 percent more successful illegal entries in fiscal year 2019 than in 2016 and was on pace for 47 percent more through four months of 2020. As he left office in January, reports indicate that the numbers have reached even greater heights.

Government officials and the media typically measure border security by the number of people “apprehended” (or arrested) by Border Patrol. But the main security concern for the agency are those it cannot interdict—who it calls “got‐aways”. Border Patrol released a horrifying video last year that fantasized about a “got‐away” evading capture and murdering someone in a dark alley.

Yet despite this supposed focus, the government records show that Border Patrol was observing more immigrants sneaking into the country than when President Trump took office. In fiscal year 2016, Border Patrol agents witnessed about 100,000 successful entries. By 2018, the number had risen to nearly 128,000. In 2019, it hit 150,000. Through four months of 2020, it was on pace to hit almost 156,000.”

What’s going on at Joe Biden’s Border!?

“there are a lot of factors that have nothing to do with Biden pushing migration higher. However, the level of increase, and evidence from on the ground, make clear that Biden is also a factor. I’ll split the Biden effect into two related mechanisms: perceptions and policy.”

“That migrants perceived their chances as better under Biden has been attested to by several interviews of migrants. They thought Biden would let them stay, but they were misinformed…and therefore sent back. Based on some of these interviews, it seems like some migrants have really gotten their hopes up due to Biden. That’s sad. Sad because these are false hopes, and sad because nothing Biden did should have given them that much hope. Smugglers have lied to people, telling them they could get across now, but they are usually returned in disappointment. One woman wailed while being sent back across the border, “Biden promised us!” But…he did not.”

“did Biden’s foolish policies allow a massive surge of migrants? No. Biden’s role in total migration numbers is the perception of him being more open than Trump, which there wasn’t anything he could do about. On the influx of unaccompanied children, Biden policy did at least partially cause this because: by taking unaccompanied children into the country to process their claims while at the same time returning families to the border, he created an incentive for desperate people to send their children alone.

However, much of the jump in numbers isn’t the result of Biden coming or Trump leaving. The numbers follow seasonal patterns of migration. Seeing huge month to month jumps is misleading because it ignores that there are usually huge month to month jumps at this time of year. Comparing to 2020 is misleading because Covid-19 made it a suppressed year. The best comparison is to 2019, where we see migration following the same seasonal pattern under Trump.

The elevation above those numbers is likely caused by: pent up demand due to Trump and Covid restrictions keeping people out and at the Mexican border, people crossing multiple times because they’re sent directly to the border rather than being fully processed due to Covid protocols, push factors like two record breaking hurricanes and Covid, as well as the perception that Biden would be nicer to migrants.

As far as criticisms of Biden go, this has nothing to do with open border policies because Biden doesn’t have open border policies. This has nothing to do with Biden advertising himself as opening the borders because he has been doing the opposite. Big general criticisms that blame this surge on Biden are nonsense. Criticisms more focused on removing remain in Mexico or on allowing unaccompanied children across the border but not families, may be valid, but these policy changes didn’t cause the current surge in migration.”

48 hours of border chaos: Inside a CBP crackdown on Iranian Americans

“Hours after a U.S. military drone killed Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, one of the most powerful men in Iran, the head of field operations for the border in Washington state gathered her senior staff on an emergency conference call.

It was the first Friday in 2020 — still a holiday for many — and director Adele Fasano spoke from home about the email she’d just received from U.S. Customs and Border Protection headquarters advising “heightened vigilance” following the airstrike.

She instructed assistant directors of field operations and area port directors to institute “heightened security measures.” When the call ended, the Seattle CBP office circulated a “high threat alert” memo among management outlining new criteria for enhanced vetting of cross-border travelers.

The message to rank-and-file agents was clear: Target travelers with ties to Iran, Lebanon and Palestine.

During the next 48 hours, 277 people — dozens of them American citizens or legal permanent residents — would be stopped and held for secondary screenings as they tried to cross into the U.S. from Canada. Many said they were held for more than six hours. Some were denied access to medicine or questioned about their relatives. Most had no idea why they were stopped, though they had their suspicions.

One Iranian American, held for six hours overnight at the Pacific Highway crossing, likened the scene to “a modern-day version of Japanese internment camps.””

China and India are in a dangerous standoff over a hotly contested border

“For about 80 years, India and China have quarreled over a roughly 2,200-mile frontier spanning the Himalayas, occasionally going to war over their competing claims. Despite 20-plus rounds of negotiations, the world’s two most populous countries haven’t come close to agreeing on most of the boundaries, providing a continuous source of tension between Beijing and New Delhi.

It’s unclear what, exactly, started this latest flare-up. India’s government says that earlier this month, unprovoked Chinese troops threw rocks at Indian soldiers in the western Himalayas. Beijing counters that claim, instead blaming Indian forces for illegally walking into Chinese territory. Whatever the reason, a combined 100-plus soldiers from both sides sustained injuries during two skirmishes on May 5 and May 9.

No shots were fired and no one was killed, but that hasn’t stopped both nuclear-armed nations from escalating the standoff since the initial squabbles.

Thousands of troops are now camped on either side of the Galwan Valley, a contentious territory in the high-altitude Ladakh region. Chinese and Indian soldiers have dug new defenses and shipped more military equipment to their outposts.”

“Experts note there’s still a long way to go before a shooting war begins. They point to ongoing diplomatic efforts to solve the scuffle and say neither side actually wants a war with the coronavirus raging.

The problem is that it could be a long time before either China or India decides to settle the matter peacefully — which means an already bad situation might get much worse.”