As Karen pointed out Friday, the latest caravan from Honduras is already on its way to the U.S. border. They represent the first wave of desperate people hoping that President Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration is about to give way to something more like benign neglect which will once again make it easy for economic migrants to enter the country.
But if the caravan was the first warning sign, the second is this piece published Sunday by the NY Times. The subhead of the story really communicates the awkward situation the Biden administration is in: “The president-elect has promised a more humane border policy. But devastated economies and natural disasters in Latin America have fueled a spike in migration that could make pledges hard to keep.” Actually, it’s very easy for Biden to keep his pledge. What the Times is hinting at is that keeping it could be a disaster [emphasis added].
After a steep decline in border crossings through much of this year, interceptions of unauthorized migrants along the Arizona-Mexico border are climbing again: Detentions in October were up 30 percent over September, and the figure in coming months is expected be even higher, despite the biting cold in the Sonoran desert…
And they are likely the leading edge of a much more substantial surge toward the border, immigration analysts say, as a worsening economy in Central America, the disaster wrought by Hurricanes Eta and Iota and expectations of a more lenient U.S. border policy drive ever-larger numbers toward the United States…
“The pressures that have caused flows in the past have not abated and, in fact, have gotten worse because of the pandemic. If there is a perception of more-humane policies, you are likely to see an increase of arrivals at the border,” said T. Alexander Aleinikoff, director of the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility at the New School in New York…
…swiftly reversing Trump administration policies could be construed as opening the floodgates, risking a rush to the border that could quickly devolve into a humanitarian crisis.
So there’s obviously a danger here, one that even the NY Times can see coming. Democrats spent years demagoguing this issue, with some even labeling the detention centers “concentration camps.” So they’ve got no choice but to undo a lot of what Trump did at the border.
But doing so is like ringing a bell that is going to be heard in every small town in Central America. The networks of smugglers will make sure the word gets out that the border is once again open to migrants. How many hundreds of thousands of people will decide now is the time to make a new life in America? It’s a humanitarian disaster waiting to happen.
Under the Trump administration that disaster has been lessened for two reasons. First because fewer caravans make it across Mexico’s southern border. It’s unclear what arrangement Biden will make with Mexico. Second, under Trump’s remain in Mexico policy, even those who make it to the border to claim asylum find themselves quickly back in Mexico waiting their turn for a hearing. Again, this discourages potential migrants who would rather be at home than in a camp full of migrants in Mexico.
But Biden will almost certainly undo that policy and will likely allow migrants to be released into the country once again while they await their court dates. Once word gets out that making it to the border gets you in, the number of migrants headed this way will skyrocket. Trump’s administration put a damper on illegal immigration but if you think of that as pent up demand, you can guess what’s coming next.
In 2021 we’re probably going to see a surge at the border that makes up for the reduced flow this year and last. Immigration could be a huge problem for Biden from the moment he takes office. If he relaxes enforcement too much he gets a potentially huge refugee crisis. If he doesn’t relax it enough, he has the far left comparing him to Trump. It’s a no-win situation politically and, frankly, he and his party deserve it.