Border crisis phase 2: Family groups are crossing the border in soaring numbers

We’ve all heard about the record number of unaccompanied minors at the border. We’ve already set the record by now but we won’t know the exact total until Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports there’s another phase of this crisis which is just starting to present itself. In addition to kids, we’re also seeing a growing number of family groups at the border.

As they race to add shelter capacity for these minors, Department of Homeland Security officials are privately warning about what they see as the next phase of a migration surge that could be the largest in two decades, driven by a much greater number of families…

This month, the number of family members taken into U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody is on pace to reach nearly 50,000, up from 7,000 in January, the latest government data show. The highest one-month total, 88,587, was recorded in May 2019, during a year when more than 525,000 migrants arrived as part of a family group.

So we won’t set a record this month but we could next month. As mentioned above, in 2019 there were 525,000 migrants in family groups. The current estimate for this fiscal year is “500,000 to 800,000 migrants.” So we’re probably going to beat that record soon.

If you listen to Jen Psaki or Sec. Mayorkas, the border is closed to families. However, reality is something different. Last week, Axios reported that only 13% of families arriving at the border were expelled. The Post confirms that reporting:

Although the Biden administration says its policy is to “expel” families to Mexico under a pandemic health order, the most recent CBP data shows that only about 10 to 20 percent are being turned back. The rest are typically released into the United States with a notice to appear in court, even though Biden told reporters last week that the families “should all be going back.”

The reason we’re not sending these families back over the border immediately is because Mexico has stopped accepting them. Last week the Biden administration tried to make a deal with Mexico to accept more of the families in return for doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine the U.S. is not using.

Mexican and U.S. officials who described the agreement said it was not a quid pro quo conditioning the delivery of vaccine doses on an enforcement crackdown. Rather, the United States made clear it sought help from Mexico in managing a record influx of Central American teenagers and children. Mexico pledged to take back more Central American families “expelled” under a U.S. emergency health order, while also urging Biden to share the U.S. vaccine supply, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the conversations.

Until Mexico starts accepting more people, they are going to be staying here. The Post reports Border Patrol agents are so overwhelmed they aren’t even doing paperwork on some of these migrants: “They have started handing some families blank forms and asking them to report to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement later, a practice CBP officials say they have never engaged in on a large scale.”

A White House reporter asked Jen Psaki last week if the Biden administration was moving to “the honor system.” She denied it of course but what the Post is describing, handing blank forms to migrants and asking them to show up later, is the honor system. Does anyone think this is going to work?