You don’t see them often, but every now and then a true “holy sh*t” graph flitters across your screen and you have to pause for awhile to fully absorb it.
Take as much time as you need with this one, as it’s a doozy.
And as you’re looking, remember that Biden semi-seriously argued to the public a few weeks ago that the surge we’re seeing at the southern border right now is a seasonal thing, not an extraordinary crisis.
It’s an extraordinary crisis, WaPo now admits. A we-need-to-expand-the-Y-axis kind of crisis.
NEW: CBP has published March numbers showing 172,331 taken into custody, the most in nearly two decades.
— Nick Miroff (@NickMiroff) April 8, 2021
Ironically, it was just two weeks ago that WaPo itself ran a study claiming that the border surge was a seasonal phenomenon and nothing to feel too stressed about.
The time to feel stressed has arrived, apparently:
Ninety-seven percent of the 172,000 tried to get across in between land ports of entry where Border Patrol agents work, while the several thousand others were denied entry at the official crossings where vehicles and pedestrians are supposed to be inspected before entering the United States, Biden administration officials told reporters in a call Thursday…
The number of Central American children who came across without a parent or guardian rose to a record-high 18,890 in March. The previous record of 11,861 was set in May 2019. The Biden administration in late January opted not to continue immediately turning away unaccompanied children as had been the Trump administration’s policy for adults, families, and children since March 2020 in an effort to avoid filling government holding facilities with people during the pandemic. As a result, the number of unaccompanied children arriving at the southern border has surged from 5,700 in January — more than triple that number now…
The number of people who arrived as part of a family group also rose in March to more than 53,000, up from approximately 7.300 in January.
More than a quarter of migrants who were taken into custody last month by the Border Patrol had been previously expelled under pandemic regulations that Trump put into place and which the Biden White House is still using for adults. It’s a form of catch-and-release across the border, in other words: People are being turned back, and then turning right around and crossing the border again.
Note the increase in families arriving at the border too. They weren’t being allowed in initially except when they had very small children with them, but White House officials acknowledged this morning that only a third of the 53,000 who showed up were rejected under pandemic rules last month. I assume that’s because some families who are turned away are deciding to have their children cross the border again unaccompanied, knowing that Biden’s DHS won’t expel them. That’s their foothold in America; if their child can win asylum, it’s a matter of time before the parents will be admitted as well. For the feds, allowing the parents in along with the children up front is not only a humanitarian gesture, averting “voluntary” family separation in Mexico, but a logistical solution. Because they’re running out of places to house unaccompanied kids, they figure it’s better to let the parents in too and let the family fend for itself.
Even with the lax new rules for admitting families, though, the Border Patrol is still overwhelmed with caring for kids. The average migrant minor is spending 135 hours on average in CBP custody now, almost twice the legal limit.
How’s this going to play with the American public? Well, here’s how it was playing a week ago, before the garish new numbers from CBP:
The influx of migrants – particularly unaccompanied minors – at the Southern border has created a new problem, and it’s one on which President Biden doesn’t fare especially well. More Americans disapprove (48%) than approve (35%) of his handling of that issue. Even among his own party, Biden’s approval rating on immigration (64% vs 19%) is much lower than his overall approval (84% vs 7%) and handling of COVID-19 (81% vs 9%).
Among independents his approval on immigration is 28/52. It’s really his only liability as president — although it should be noted that support for turning away minors at the border is low even according to this poll. Just 28 percent of Americans (and 49 percent of Republicans) say kids should be barred from entry.
Remember, March traditionally isn’t the peak month for border crossings. It gets worse as spring wears on, and some projections have the surge lasting through September. If we can’t cope now, how will we cope then?