To distract Americans from the violent MAGA/QAnon insurrection and failed coup d’etat to overthrow American democracy on January 6, Republican politicians and their propagandists in the conservative media entertainment complex began harping on the one issue that motivates the white nationalists base of the GQP: there was a “border crisis” of brown people invading America from the US-Mexico border because Joe Biden was now president. OMG! White people are being replaced! Proud Boy Tucker Carlson peed himself a little.
Republicans have been claiming this same racist crap for over 30 years, ever since their hero, Ronald Reagan, signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. The white nationalists in the GQP have been screaming “amnesty!” ever since.
Funny thing, the 2020 U.S. Census tells a different story. The Washington Post editorializes, The 2020 Census offers a powerful argument for immigration:
The 2020 Census offers a powerful argument for immigration. The United States in the past 10 years saw the slowest population growth rate in eight decades, owing both to plummeting fertility and dwindling immigration. Demographic stagnation, and the resulting possibility of anemic economic growth, threaten American vitality.
The census numbers give the lie, again, to the idea that this country is “full,” as President Donald Trump said, by way of justifying his assault on legal and illegal immigration, or that it has somehow reached the limits of its absorptive capacity. In fact, without robust population growth, and a steady supply of working-age strivers, there is no prospect of repairing the fraying social safety net that supports an aging population of retired Americans.
Simply, lagging births and slowing immigration mean fewer workers, less production and the specter of languid economic growth, or none.
[A]rrivals have slowed in recent years, at first because of the economic crisis arising from the Great Recession and later as a result of Mr. Trump’s campaign to demonize migrants, and a related cascade of bureaucratic measures designed by his administration to slash the number of newcomers.
[T]he truth is that the United States can absorb plenty more immigration — and must, if it is to compete and thrive in the 21st century.
The Florida Man claimed that the Biden administration had created a “national disaster” at the border by ditching his immigration policies.
“We proudly handed the Biden administration the most secure border in history,” Trump said in a March 21 statement. “All they had to do was keep this smooth-running system on autopilot. Instead, in the span of just (a) few weeks, the Biden administration has turned a national triumph into a national disaster.”
Politifact called bullshit. What Donald Trump omits in his attack on Joe Biden about border security:
The reality of the border inherited by Biden
While Trump presents the border surge as a “disaster” under Biden, the spike in migrants, especially unaccompanied minors, started in the spring of 2020 during the Trump administration and generally continued to climb each month. The numbers of migrants apprehended at the border rose between January and February, but it’s still less than the surge in May 2019. And in February, most of the encounters that Customs and Border Protection recorded at the border resulted in quick expulsions under the same public health-related authority that was invoked under the Trump administration.
Besides U.S. policy, factors that drive migrants to leave their home countries have included economic havoc caused by hurricanes and the pandemic, and yearslong problems associated with violence. The numbers of migrants arriving at the border also tend to spike in the spring and summer months.
When Biden took office, there was a pent-up demand to cross the border due to asylum seekers who were waiting in Mexican border towns because of Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” program and pandemic-related border closures.
The Biden administration has repeatedly said that the border is closed. But it has made some policy changes, such as choosing not to expel unaccompanied children who cross illegally, even though it has the legal authority to do so.
[The Florida Man] grossly oversimplified how the immigration system works. It’s not as straightforward as keeping it on “autopilot.”
Biden’s actions and tone on immigration play a role in migration, but so do other factors such as ongoing economic and social havoc in Central America.
We rate this statement Mostly False.
Pew Research, which knows more about immigration than any other organization, explains why Migrant apprehensions at U.S.-Mexico border are surging again:
The U.S. Border Patrol apprehended nearly 100,000 migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border in February, the tenth consecutive month of increased apprehensions and a return to levels last seen in mid-2019.
The number of monthly apprehensions had fallen to just 16,182 in April 2020, shortly after the coronavirus pandemic forced the virtual closure of the southwestern border and slowed migration across much of the world. But apprehensions have climbed every month since then and reached 96,974 in February, according to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the federal agency that encompasses the Border Patrol. (It’s important to note that apprehensions refer to events, not people, and some migrants may be apprehended more than once.)
February’s apprehension total was far higher than the typical monthly figure in recent years, with the exception of a dramatic rise in 2019 during the administration of President Donald Trump. The Trump administration responded to the increased border activity with a series of new restrictions intended to deter migrants from traveling to the United States to seek asylum. Those policy changes included the “Remain in Mexico” program, which required asylum seekers to wait in Mexico until their claims could be heard.
President Joe Biden has begun to reverse some of Trump’s immigration restrictions, including the Remain in Mexico policy. That has led some Republicans to blame Biden’s approach for the latest rise in migration, even as White House officials have cautioned migrants against making the journey. Experts have pointed to other possible factors behind the growing number of migrants apprehended at the border, including the widespread economic damage caused by the pandemic and natural disasters in Central America, the origin region for many U.S.-bound migrants.
While the number of monthly apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border is approaching the levels of two years ago, the profile of those being apprehended is very different, according to the CBP data.
Mexican migrants are accounting for a greater share of apprehensions than in the recent past, while Central Americans represent a smaller proportion. Around four-in-ten (42%) of those apprehended at the southwestern border in February were people of Mexican origin, up from 13% in May 2019, the most recent peak month for monthly apprehensions. People from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras accounted for 46% of apprehensions in February, down from 78% in May 2019.
The number and share of single adults being apprehended at the border has also increased dramatically. Single adults accounted for 71% of all U.S.-Mexico border apprehensions in February, while people traveling in families and unaccompanied minors represented 20% and 10%, respectively. That stands in sharp contrast to May 2019, when people traveling in families accounted for 64% of the total and single adults and unaccompanied minors accounted for 28% and 9%, respectively.
While only around a third of all apprehensions in February were people traveling in families or unaccompanied minors, their numbers have increased sharply this year. Apprehensions of people traveling in families rose from 7,064 to 18,945, or 168%, between January and February, while apprehensions of unaccompanied minors rose from 5,694 to 9,297, or 63%.
Children pose unique challenges for the Border Patrol because they may legally only be detained in holding facilities for up to three days before being transferred to shelters. As migrant apprehensions have soared in recent months, many children have been detained longer than the three-day limit due to a lack of space at shelters.
The Biden administration announced this month that it would restart an Obama-era program allowing some Central American children to apply for admission to the U.S. from their home countries in an effort to deter them from making the journey. The administration is reportedly also trying to find room for migrant children at unused school or military facilities.
The Arizona Daily Star confirms the Pew Research data. Texas border crisis distorts view of Arizona’s situation:
The border near Tucson doesn’t fit the mold of the crisis playing out in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, according to federal data and local Border Patrol officials.
Broadly put, most of the recent migration in the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector involves adults from Mexico and Guatemala who are quickly expelled to Mexico. The Rio Grande Valley Sector, on the other hand, is seeing tens of thousands of families and children from Honduras, which prompted the Biden administration to rush to find temporary housing for them.
As policymakers issue statements and call for more action from the Biden administration, either to provide more support to migrant families and children or to resume strict policies from the Trump administration, they risk crafting policies that gloss over important differences in how the recent rise in border encounters is playing out in each area of the border.
Rather than deal with the details, the national political conversation focused on the 172,000 border encounters reported by Customs and Border Protection officials for March, which surpassed the peak of a similar increase two years ago. That number appeared repeatedly in headlines, cable news shows, and political debates as a shorthand for “Biden’s border crisis.”
When Gov. Doug Ducey declared an emergency in Arizona’s border counties, he cited “more than 170,000 apprehensions at the Southwest border,” rather than numbers for the Arizona border.
As E.J. Montini pointed out, Sheriffs, county supervisors call BS on Gov. Doug Ducey’s border stunt. Ducey is full of shit.
But the number of migrants encountered, how they travel, where they come from, and how federal officials deal with them vary among Border Patrol sectors.
Even within Arizona, the differences are stark between the border near Tucson and the border near Yuma, where thousands of adult migrants and families are coming from countries like Cuba, Venezuela and Brazil, according to Customs and Border Protection data.
“Not the same border”
To clarify the situation, Interim Tucson Sector Chief Patrol Agent John Modlin answered reporters’ questions in mid-April and the Arizona Daily Star analyzed CBP data, with a focus on the Tucson, Yuma and Rio Grande Valley sectors.
“This is not the same border as what you’re seeing on the national news in the Rio Grande Valley,” Modlin said. “Very different what’s going on over there and what’s going on here.”
The clearest difference among the sectors is the total number of encounters. In March, the Rio Grande Valley Sector saw about 62,000 border encounters, compared with about 19,800 in the Tucson Sector and 11,800 in the Yuma Sector.
The sectors also differ in whether migrants travel in large groups, as adults without children, as families or as children without their parents.
In the Rio Grande Valley, agents often see large “give-up groups” that include 100 or more migrants flagging down Border Patrol agents, but that is much less common in the Tucson Sector, said Modlin. Instead, most migrants in the Tucson Sector are “actively trying to evade detection.”
Large groups are the “new normal” in the Rio Grande Valley Sector, according to social media posts by Chief Patrol Agent Brian Hastings. Agents in the Yuma Sector encounter large groups on a “regular basis,” according to Chief Patrol Agent Chris Clem. The posts from the Tucson Sector show only a handful of large groups encountered in recent months.
This is a sharp contrast not only among sectors, but also to the spike in asylum-seeking families in late 2018 and early 2019. During that time, the Tucson Sector chief’s posts showed numerous large groups crossing the border southwest of Tucson, where they flagged down agents. Many of those groups were made up of families from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Now, adults traveling without children account for most of the migrants encountered in the Tucson Sector, as well as in every Border Patrol sector except the Rio Grande Valley and Yuma, according to CBP data.
In March, single adults accounted for 78% of all encounters in the Tucson Sector, a much higher rate than the 27% in the Rio Grande Valley Sector and the 49% in the Yuma Sector.
Families and children
In terms of migrants traveling as families, “our numbers are quite small versus” the Rio Grande Valley Sector, Modlin said. “They are slightly going up, but we’re nowhere near where we were.”
Families accounted for 10% of all encounters in the Tucson Sector in March, well below the 57% in the Rio Grande Valley Sector and the 44% in the Yuma Sector.
Much of the attention paid to the border in recent months focused on children traveling without their parents, categorized by CBP as unaccompanied children. The Biden administration is scrambling to move those children from CBP custody to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which places them with family or sponsors in the United States.
The Good News: The New York Times reports, The number of migrant children in Border Patrol custody is down significantly.
The Biden administration is starting to see some success in its efforts to suitably house the migrant children flooding to the southwest border, with a fraction of the number of children in Customs and Border Protection custody than there were a month ago.
Over the past month, the number of migrant children in the jail-like facilities of the Border Patrol dropped 83 percent, from 5,767 on March 29 to 954 on Thursday, according to government statistics. The length of time children are staying in border shelters is down as well, from an average of 133 hours to 28. By law, children are not supposed to stay in border shelters for more than 72 hours.
The improvements are attributable in part to an increase in facilities overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services where children can be housed under better living conditions.
More children are also being discharged from government custody, most often to live with a relative.
The number of migrant children arriving alone at the southern border has decreased by a much smaller amount, from 626 on March 29 to 525 a month later, according to an official briefed on the data.
The New York Times continues, U.S. Shows Progress in Moving Migrant Children From Border Jails:
The government on Friday reported a more than 80 percent drop over the past month in the number of migrant children in Border Patrol custody, down to 790 on Thursday, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, said on Friday in an interview. A month ago, 5,767 migrant children were in Border Patrol custody.
And the length of time children are staying in border cells has decreased as well, to an average of 28 hours in recent days from 133 hours a month ago. Federal law mandates that migrant children be transferred out of Border Patrol custody within 72 hours. Mr. Mayorkas said that as of Friday, there were as few as four children held there for more than that time.
“The progress that has been made is dramatic,” Mr. Mayorkas said. He credits much of the success to the emergency shelters the Federal Emergency Management Agency set up in vacant facilities throughout the United States, including in convention centers in Dallas and San Diego, an expo center in San Antonio, and a military site and a former camp for oil workers in Texas.
[T]he task of moving migrant children from the detention facilities, which were designed for adults, to the more suitable shelters managed by the Department of Health and Human Services has emerged as one of the early challenges of President Biden’s term. Because of a shortage of shelters, the Biden administration had not been able to move the children within the three-day time frame until recently.
The improvements were welcomed by the administration, but officials were realistic about the challenges ahead.
“There has been some progress that has been made,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said on Friday, while acknowledging the situation was far from resolved.
“There’s more work to be done,” she said, adding that the administration was focused on discharging children from government custody to family members in the country or temporary foster homes, a process that takes a significant amount of time as well.
That effort has seen some modest improvement over the past month, with 413 children discharged from government custody on Thursday compared with 248 who were discharged a month earlier.
[T]he Biden administration has taken steps to unwind former President Donald J. Trump’s restrictive agenda, including on Friday when it announced that it had canceled border wall projects paid for with Defense Department funds. The move was widely expected after Mr. Biden suspended wall construction earlier this year.
But reports of migrant children forced to sleep on gym mats with foil sheets in overcrowded Border Patrol holding cells — often going days without bathing — did not present the America Mr. Biden promised. And Republicans have latched onto what they call the “crisis” at the border as their main talking point against the president.
[I]n allowing migrant children who arrive at the border alone to enter the country, Mr. Biden has broken with part of the Trump administration policy. But officials have had to scramble to find appropriate shelter for the children, who have been arriving in record numbers. More than 18,700 unaccompanied children and teenagers were taken into custody in March after crossing the border, including at port entries, nearly double the roughly 9,450 minors detained in February. Mr. Mayorkas has said border officials are expected to make more apprehensions this year at the border than in the last two decades.
As of Thursday, more than 22,500 children were in the custody of the Health and Human Services Department, compared with the 11,886 a month ago. Efforts to unite them with family members in the country have been seeing more success, as well.
Back to the Arizona Daily Star:
The Tucson Sector saw the number of unaccompanied children nearly triple from 865 in January to about 2,300 in March, which prompted CBP officials to award a contract worth up to $105 million to build and run a 80,000-square-foot facility to house them temporarily in Tucson.
Still, unaccompanied children accounted for just 12% of encounters in the Tucson Sector in March, compared with 16% in the Rio Grande Valley Sector and 6% in the Yuma Sector, where CBP built a facility similar to the one in Tucson.
The percentages among the three sectors are not too far apart, but the actual number of unaccompanied children encountered in each sector differs dramatically. In March, the Yuma Sector saw about 800, compared to about 9,700 in the Rio Grande Valley Sector.
The three sectors also differ dramatically in the nationalities of migrants.
With the statistics released this month, CBP started providing ongoing data about nationality for each sector, instead of the border as a whole. CBP grouped the data in a period covering Oct. 1 to the end of March, rather than monthly totals.
In the Tucson Sector, the most common nationality was Mexico, which accounted for 61% of all border encounters, followed by 30% from Guatemala, 4% from countries labeled as “other,” 4% from Honduras and 1% from El Salvador.
The most common nationality in the Rio Grande Valley Sector was Honduras, which accounted for 38% of all border encounters, followed by 24% from Mexico, 22% from Guatemala, 12% from El Salvador and 4% from countries labeled as “other.”
In the Yuma Sector, about 58% of border encounters involved migrants from countries labeled as “other,” followed by 21% from Mexico, 10% from Guatemala, 8% from Honduras and 2% from El Salvador. The “other” category in Yuma is made up mainly of migrants from Cuba, Venezuela and Brazil.
Quick expulsions common
Federal officials deal with migrants differently in each sector, particularly with regard to a pandemic public-health order known as Title 42. Under that order, which the Trump administration put in place in March 2020 and the Biden administration has maintained, officials can quickly expel migrants to Mexico.
In the Tucson Sector, officials expelled about 86% of the migrants they encountered from Oct. 1 to the end of March. The vast majority were single adults from Mexico and Guatemala, but more than 4,000 family members and unaccompanied minors, mostly from Mexico and Guatemala, also were expelled.
The Mexican government generally accepts migrants from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, but not from many other countries, Modlin said, which “absolutely” explains why most of the families the Border Patrol released to local shelters were from Cuba, Venezuela and Brazil.
In the Rio Grande Valley Sector, officials expelled about 61% of the migrants they encountered, mostly single adults from Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Officials also expelled about 17,000 family members and unaccompanied minors, mostly from Honduras and Guatemala.
In the Yuma Sector, officials expelled about 36% of the migrants they encountered. Single adults from Mexico accounted for nearly half of those expulsions. Nearly 2,300 family members from various countries also were expelled.
The next round of CBP statistics, which will cover border encounters in April, likely will be released in the first or second week of May.
President Biden sent Congress a Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill in January upon assuming office. It is now up to Congress, especially obstructionist Republicans who prefer to engage in anti-immigrant hysteria, to get its act together and to reform our broken immigration system.
UPDATE:The Biden administration said Monday that four families that were separated at the Mexico border during Donald Trump’s presidency will be reunited in the United States this week in what Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas calls “just the beginning” of a broader effort. US begins reuniting some families separated at Mexico border:
Parents will return to the United States on humanitarian parole while authorities consider other longer-term forms of legal status, said Michelle Brane, executive director of the administration’s Family Reunification Task Force. The children are already in the U.S.
Exactly how many families will reunite in the United States and in what order is linked to negotiations with the American Civil Liberties Union to settle a federal lawsuit in San Diego, but Mayorkas said there were more to come.
“We continue to work tirelessly to reunite many more children with their parents in the weeks and months ahead,” Mayorkas told reporters ahead of the announcement. “We have a lot of work still to do, but I am proud of the progress we have made and the reunifications that we have helped to achieve this week.”
While family separation under “zero-tolerance” ended in June 2018 under court order and shortly after Trump reversed course, Biden has repeatedly assailed the practice as an act of cruelty. An executive order on his first day in office pledged to reunite families that were still separated “to the greatest extent possible.”