May 22, 2024
Biden's Broken Border is a five-part Washington Examiner series highlighting the border security records President Joe Biden has shattered in less than two years in office and the trickle-down effects that the crisis is having on the United States. Part One, below, will look at how Biden already broke the record for migrant apprehensions in 2022. Part Two will examine the dramatic shift in demographics of immigrants crossing the border illegally. Part Three will show the consequences of children crossing the border alone in unprecedented numbers. Part Four will look at the record number of migrants dying while attempting to enter the U.S. And Part Five will examine the deadly fentanyl crisis that has rocked communities deep within the country.

Biden’s Broken Border is a five-part Washington Examiner series highlighting the border security records President Joe Biden has shattered in less than two years in office and the trickle-down effects that the crisis is having on the United States. Part One, below, will look at how Biden already broke the record for migrant apprehensions in 2022. Part Two will examine the dramatic shift in demographics of immigrants crossing the border illegally. Part Three will show the consequences of children crossing the border alone in unprecedented numbers. Part Four will look at the record number of migrants dying while attempting to enter the U.S. And Part Five will examine the deadly fentanyl crisis that has rocked communities deep within the country.

An extraordinary number of immigrants are crossing into the United States from Mexico since early 2021, setting off a series of crises at the border as well as the interior of the country — the likes of which are unprecedented.

In the first year and a half of President Joe Biden
’s tenure, Border Patrol agents nationwide have arrested more people who came cross the border unlawfully than in President Barack Obama’s two terms — an indication of the magnitude of the situation.

Border Patrol’s 20,000 federal agents nationwide made 3,484,327 apprehensions of immigrants who were unauthorized to enter the U.S. in less than two years of Biden’s presidency, compared to 3,384,816 apprehensions during the eight fiscal years that coincided with Obama’s two terms in office. Some illegal immigrants tried more than once to cross, particularly during the pandemic, because agents immediately expelled many back to Mexico.


EXPLAINED: TITLE 42, THE POLICY AT THE CENTER OF THE BORDER DEBATE

Border Series Day-1.jpg

Border Patrol apprehensions shatter records under President Joe Biden. Biden already broke the record for illegal immigration apprehensions in FY 2022 with two months left in the fiscal year.

(Washington Examiner)

“We’ve never seen anything like this before … the millions of people coming into our country and the women and children going through the abuse that they’re going through,” said Rep. Mayra Flores, a Republican whose district is on the South Texas border.

Federal agents have made 150,000 to 200,000 arrests each month over the past 18 months, mostly on the U.S.-Mexico border. Ten months into the government’s 2022 fiscal year, the Border Patrol has apprehended 1,822,620 people — blowing past the 2021 record of 1,662,167.

“It’s really been a perfect storm,” said Ken Oliver, the senior director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Right on Immigration program in Washington. “There are no real breaks right now. The flow is only getting worse in terms of the numbers of countries involved.”

Pressed about the unprecedented numbers, on pace to hit a record-breaking 2 million apprehensions this year alone, Vice President Kamala Harris maintained in an interview earlier this month that “the border is secure.”

Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, the policy director at the American Immigration Council, which opposed the Trump administration’s immigration policies as too harsh, agreed the situation was a “challenge,” but he argued the spike in numbers shows more people are getting caught than under previous administrations.

“When we talk about record apprehensions, it has to come in the context that until very recently, a majority of people who crossed the border were not apprehended,” Reichlin-Melnick said. “That said, this is undoubtedly a significant challenge.”

He claimed Biden’s specific policies aren’t the root cause, but he said his rhetoric, a softening of tone from former President Donald Trump’s hard-line talk, was seen as a green light in other countries.

“Perception matters a lot more than policy. When President Biden took office, people perceived that he would be a more generous president, and that led to more people coming to the border, even though he didn’t actually do anything that would cause that,” Reichlin-Melnick said, adding that ending Trump’s Migrant Protection Protocols (also known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy) only affected 70,000 asylum-seekers.

“What a president actually does is very different than what a president is thought to have done.”

Republicans have hammered Biden with claims that his immigration promises enticed people from around the world to travel to the U.S. Upon taking office, the Biden administration stopped turning away unaccompanied child migrants, attempted to halt deportations for 100 days, and suspended border wall construction.

Immigration Fact Check

In this June 18, 2014, file photo, detainees sleep and watch television in a holding cell where hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children are being processed and held at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Nogales Placement Center in Nogales, Arizona.

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool)

“We actually anticipated this,” Oliver said. “When you facilitate massive amounts of migrants getting into the asylum line with mostly invalid claims, but they’re getting in — it’s catch and release.”

However, Laura Collins, who studies the impact of immigration on economic policy at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, said Biden was not to blame.

“It’s really hard to pin down on one political party, one administration because there are so many factors that go into that,” said Collins, the director of the George W. Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative at the Bush Institute, who pointed to “record global displacement.”

Since March 2020, immigrants arriving at the southern border have not been allowed to seek asylum at land ports of entry as part of the Title 42 public health order. In response, those desperate for help walk around the port and illegally enter. Because Border Patrol agents have had the immediate ability to turn away illegal immigrants during the pandemic, it has led to higher recidivism rates than pre-pandemic years. A person sent back to Mexico may try to enter illegally again and continue doing so until he or she gets in without getting apprehended.

Border Asylum Limits

Migrants cross the Rio Grande toward the United States in Eagle Pass, Texas.

(Dario Lopez-Mills/AP)

“What we see at the border is a problem in that it’s a symptom of a larger broken system,” said Collins. “When we can’t offer people who deserve protection, our protection, as the beacon of freedom and opportunity across the world, that’s a symptom of a broken immigration system.”

To deal with the surge in numbers, the Biden administration has focused its efforts on improving conditions within federal immigration facilities and quickly releasing people. It has opened numerous tent facilities where thousands of immigrants are detained each day as they are processed and either removed from the country or released with a future immigration court date.

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The massive tent facility outside Eagle Pass, Texas, was completed this spring and opened to detain migrants in mid-July.

(U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

Andrew Arthur, a former federal immigration judge who is now an immigration analyst for the Center for Immigration Studies think tank in Washington, explained that not returning people to their countries of origin has resulted in the Biden administration releasing 1,049,532 people into the U.S. as of May, “a population larger than the number of residents in the president’s home state of Delaware
,” Arthur wrote in a blog post
.

The more than 1 million people released into the interior is more than the populations of Boston, Denver, Las Vegas, Seattle, or Washington, based on 2021 Census Bureau data.

The impact of migrant releases on bus, airline, and other transportation networks in border cities is what prompted Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) to offer free bus rides to cities that immigrants would otherwise have had to pay to fly to. Abbott blamed Biden’s “catastrophic open border policies” for the strain placed on Texas communities and resources.

More than 10,000 immigrants have voluntarily boarded buses to Chicago, New York City, and Washington since this spring, a small fraction compared to the remaining 990,000 who made their own travel arrangements.

Migrants bused from Texas arrive in New York City

Buses of migrants recently detained for crossing the Texas border arrive in New York on August 29, 2022 at the Port Authority bus station in midtown New York City.

(Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

Democratic mayors in the three cities are reeling from the drop-offs. Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a state of emergency
, dubbing the fewer than 10,000 immigrants bused into the district a “humanitarian crisis.” NYC Mayor Eric Adams has spent nearly $7 million on facilities meant to receive immigrants, while homeless shelters are overcapacity and the city searches for 5,000 hotel rooms to house the immigrants going forward.


CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

“As long as the current policies continue in place, this trend will only continue to create tremendous burdens across cities and communities across the United States,” Oliver said.

The impact is also being felt across the border.

Flores, the first Mexican-born woman elected to Congress, said the border crisis and criminal cartel strength have made parts of her native country so unsafe that she and her constituents have chosen to stop going into Mexico to see family members.

“We can’t visit,” Flores said, “because of the fear of those organizations.”

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