I should probably note that the title of this article may not be exactly correct because as Ed pointed out earlier, Alejandro Mayorkas, the new boss at the Department of Homeland Security, doesn’t like to talk about a “crisis” at our southern border. The only real “crisis” is the pandemic. Perhaps the thousands of unaccompanied minors and illegal aliens with COVID flooding our holding facilities or skipping across the border are more of an “administrative challenge.” Whatever he wants to call it today, he at least knows who to blame. And that would be the Bad Orange Man who hasn’t set foot in the Oval Office for nearly two months.
In addition to “the policies of the Trump administration,” Mayorkas also managed to blame violence and corruption in multiple countries to the south of us. While all of those things have certainly been factors over the years, none of them really explain why there were so few border crossings only a few months ago and we’re being overwhelmed now. I wonder what could be missing from his list… (National Review)
Mayorkas blamed the crisis on a confluence of poverty and violence in Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries, natural disasters including November hurricanes and the coronavirus pandemic, and the Trump administration’s policies. There are currently over 4,000 unaccompanied minors detained in Border Patrol facilities, with another 9,000 in care of the Department of Health and Human Services.
“The situation at the southwest border is difficult,” Mayorkas said in his statement. “We are on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years. We are expelling most single adults and families. We are not expelling unaccompanied children.”
Mayorkas noted that influxes of migrants have occurred in 2019, 2014, and in previous years.
“Poverty, high levels of violence, and corruption in Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries have propelled migration to our southwest border for years,” Mayorkas said.
Give Mayorkas credit for at least being able to deliver those lines with a straight face. Sadly, not only is he missing the mark on some key facts, but he’s committing some diplomatic faux pas at the same time.
As I alluded to above, Mayorkas is correct to note that we’ve undergone significant surges in illegal immigration in the past and there is a complicated mixture of factors driving that. But you need to look at which factors are in play concurrently with any given surge. Up until the past month or so we had been in a period of relatively slower border across the traffic. That was no doubt driven largely by Donald Trump’s immigration policies and agreements with Mexico and Northern Triangle nations, but also likely compounded, at least in 2020, by the pandemic keeping more people locked in place.
And yet, suddenly we’re seeing a massive surge. So what changed? While rates of vaccination continue to rise in the United States, other nations, including Mexico along with Guatemala and Honduras aren’t making nearly as much progress. The pandemic hasn’t gone away. So what else changed? The answer is the occupant of the Oval Office who immediately promised to end deportations and essentially threw open the borders. What did you think was going to happen?
The other area where Mayorkas seemed to stick his foot in his mouth was his casual description of the violence and corruption in Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries. Is it true that corruption and widespread organized crime are far more prevalent in those nations? Of course it is. But when you’re a senior American government official, you don’t just come out and say it. All of the progress that Donald Trump made on immigration control and enhancing border security relied heavily on the relationships he forged and the deals he made with the governments of Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. To simply start rejecting some of those deals and policies along with insulting the cultures of those nations isn’t exactly going to put us on the path of getting this situation back under control.
I have some bad news for Secretary Mayorkas and the media personalities who love him. The era of “blame Trump” for all that’s wrong on the face of the Earth is over. The responsibility for dealing with these issues rests on the shoulders of Joe Biden now. (Or whoever is whispering in his ear this week.) It’s time to step up to the plate and explain how you’re going to fix this.