“The number of migrants apprehended at the border isn’t going down this summer, even as the heat makes the journey to the U.S. more dangerous. Instead, it has reached a 21-year high — and there’s a record number of unaccompanied children arriving, too.”
“Migrants for years have been pushed to seek refuge in the U.S. because of conditions in their home countries. But over the past 16 months, the numbers have increased as part of the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic and as migrants face even more dire economic circumstances.
“The pandemic probably is a big part of it,” said Andrew Rudman, director of the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center, a non-partisan organization that engages in research on global issues. “You’ve got just a lot more people out of work and suffering because of the economic impact and that probably increases, surely increases, the pull factor.”
The Biden administration has continued to use the Trump-era public health order, known as Title 42, to expel migrants without allowing them to seek asylum. And experts and analysts say that this, too, is likely a major factor for the high number of apprehensions recorded each month. A large portion of migrants crossing the border are repeat crossers, who keep trying because there isn’t any real punishment when they get caught.
In June, for example, more than 188,000 migrants were apprehended at the border. Of those, 34 percent had tried to cross at least once before in the last 12 months, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection figures. That’s compared with an average recidivism rate of 14 percent for fiscal years 2014 to 2019.
Biden continues to turn away most of the migrants encountered at the border through Title 42, including single adults and many families, but has made exceptions for unaccompanied children to stay for humanitarian reasons. It has led some parents to send their children to the U.S. alone, knowing that the administration will allow them to stay, according to immigrant advocates.
Democratic lawmakers, immigrant advocates and public health experts for months have been urging the Biden administration to end its use of Title 42, arguing that it is unlawful, inhumane and not justified by public health. Biden officials were planning to begin phasing out Title 42, but those plans were derailed given the fast-spreading Delta variant of the coronavirus and the increase in apprehensions.”
“Over 14,000 unaccompanied minors are now in the care of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Detained minors in their testimonials for the case described limited time outside, sporadic showers, and being served inadequate or unsafe food, including raw chicken and foul-smelling hamburgers. A 13-year-old Honduran recounted being “locked up all day” during five days in Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) custody. A 14-year-old Guatemalan girl said that detainees at a facility in Houston had to drink expired milk when they ran out of water. “I was never allowed to make a phone call while I was there,” said a 17-year-old Honduran who was in CBP custody for 11 days. Minors reported receiving few details about how long they would be in custody and many were transferred to other facilities with little notice or explanation.
Those conditions have left detained minors despondent. “I used to be able to cope with my anxiety and breathe through it, but now I feel like I’ve given up,” said a 17-year-old from Guatemala. “I feel like I’ll never get out of here.” One child was placed on suicide watch and another described how difficult it was to get an appointment with a counselor, though many girls in detention “have thoughts of cutting themselves.” Teens have resorted to cutting themselves with their identification cards since employees at one facility banned pencils, pens, toothbrushes, and even the metal nose clips of N95 face masks over concerns of self-harm, according to testimony and worker accounts.
“There is no one here I can talk to about my case,” said a 17-year-old Honduran detainee. “There’s also no one here I can talk to when I’m feeling sad. There’s no one here; I just talk to God. It helps me and I cry. It would help if I could have a Bible.””
“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 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.””
“Migrants typically get information about the conditions on the border from people in their network who have successfully made the journey, rather than from top-down declarations from US officials. Smugglers have also sought to spread misinformation about the Biden administration’s plans to process asylum seekers. Immigrant advocates on the border have reported hearing rumors spreading that migrants staying in certain camps will be processed or that the border would open at midnight.
These rumors have survived on the hopes of people who have long aspired to migrate. Many of the people arriving on the southern border are fleeing dangerous or unlivable conditions and felt they had no choice but to leave their home countries.”
“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.”
“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.”
Joe Biden’s immigration agenda overshadowed by migrant challenges in first 100 days Rebecca Morin. 4 29 2021. USA Today. https://www.usatoday.com/in-depth/news/politics/2021/04/29/bidens-100-days-immigration-agenda-overshadowed-migrant-challenge/4821671001/ Biden to push citizenship for US illegal immigrants in speech despite surging border crisis Steven Nelson. 4 28 2021. New York Post. https://nypost.com/2021/04/28/biden-to-push-citizenship-for-illegal-immigrants-in-speech-amid-border-crisis/
“In sharp contrast to today’s undocumented population, “illegal” European immigrants faced few repercussions. There was virtually no immigration enforcement infrastructure. If caught, few faced deportation. All of those who entered unlawfully before the 1940s were protected from deportation by statutes of limitations, and in the 1930s and 1940s, tens of thousands of unauthorized immigrants like Nora O’Donnell’s grandfather were given amnesty.[viii] The few not covered by a statute of limitations or amnesty had another protection: until 1976 the government rarely deported parents of US citizens.[ix] There were no immigrant restrictions on public benefits until the 1970s, and it wasn’t until 1986 that it became unlawful to hire an undocumented immigrant.
In sum, from the early 1900s through the 1960s, millions of predominantly white immigrants entered the country unlawfully, but faced virtually no threat of apprehension or deportation. Businesses lawfully employed these immigrants, who were eligible for public benefits when they fell on hard times.”
“[x] often in the context of racialized debates targeted mainly at Latinos. Researchers have documented how through the 1960s, racialized views of Mexicans shaped law and bureaucratic practice.[xi] Over the next decade, Congress: ended the Bracero program, which had allowed as many as 800,000 temporary migrants from Mexico annually to work mainly in agriculture; cut legal immigration from Mexico by 50%; and ended the long-standing practice that parents of US citizens wouldn’t be deported. Reducing lawful means of immigrating predictably led to a rise in unauthorized entries, which was met with calls for tougher enforcement.”
“the administration has tried to send a message to migrants: don’t come.
The Biden administration has been clear from the outset that the border is “not open” and that migrants should not come in an “irregular fashion.” The US continues to turn away the vast majority of arriving migrants under Title 42 of the Public Health Safety Act, with exceptions for unaccompanied children, some families with young children, and people who were sent back to Mexico to wait for their court hearings in the US.
In recent days, the message has gotten even sharper: “I can say quite clearly: Don’t come over,” Biden said in a recent interview with ABC. “Don’t leave your town or city or community.”
The White House has been amplifying that messaging with more than 17,000 radio ads in Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras since January 21. The ads have played in Spanish, Portuguese, and six Indigenous languages, reaching an estimated 15 million people. There have also been ad campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, including one that features a Salvadoran who made the dangerous journey north in 2010 at age 19 and was eventually deported after arriving in Texas”
“US messaging may play some role in determining whether people migrate, but it’s only one factor among many sources of information.
Migrants typically get information about the conditions on the border from people in their network who have successfully made the journey, rather than from top-down declarations from US officials. Smugglers have also sought to spread misinformation about the Biden administration’s plans to process asylum seekers. Immigrant advocates on the border have reported hearing rumors spreading that migrants staying in certain camps will be processed or that the border would open at midnight.
These rumors have survived on the hopes of people who have long aspired to migrate. Many of the people arriving on the southern border are fleeing dangerous or unlivable conditions and felt they had no choice but to leave their home countries.
They are primarily coming from Central America’s “Northern Triangle” countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, which for years have been suffering from gang-related violence, government corruption, frequent extortion, and some of the highest rates of poverty and violent crime in the world.
The pandemic-related economic downturn and a pair of hurricanes late last year that devastated Honduras and Guatemala in particular have only exacerbated those more longstanding problems.”