It’s October 20th and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) still hasn’t released the September border apprehension numbers, but the Washington Post’s Nick Miroff has seen them. The news for the Biden administration is not good. Fiscal Year 2021 is now the highest number of arrests at the southern border in the nation’s history. In fact, when Miroff’s piece first went up, it claimed this year’s numbers were the highest since 1986, but he’s now added a correction to the piece:
A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Border Patrol arrests along the Mexico border reached their highest levels since 1986. Historic data shows fiscal year 2021’s figure was the highest total ever recorded. The article has been corrected.
Miroff’s piece points out that the Biden administration has tried to tap dance around the border crisis since the spring:
Illegal crossings began rising last year but skyrocketed in the months after President Biden took office. As CBP arrests increased this past spring, Biden described the rise as consistent with historic seasonal norms. But the busiest months came during the sweltering heat of July and August, when more than 200,000 migrants were taken into custody.
I wrote about this here and here and here. The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage published a claim that the border numbers were just normal seasonal variation and Biden (and his defenders) latched on to that claim, but it quickly fell apart. This year’s numbers look nothing like the usual seasonal pattern and the reasons for that are clear.
Once in office, Biden quickly halted construction on the border wall, ended the “Remain in Mexico” policy, reversed key asylum restrictions and announced a 100-day pause on most deportations and enforcement by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Biden officials initially blamed the previous administration’s policies for the increase in border crossings and said migration pressures intensified as a result of the pandemic’s economic fallout. Many migrants have told reporters they opted to make the risky journey north, at great cost and considerable danger, with the belief that Biden would allow them to stay. A tight U.S. labor market became another pull…
During the 2021 fiscal year, agents apprehended 1.66 million along the Mexico border only, the latest figures show. That exceeds the 1.64 million taken into custody in 2000 along the Mexico border, according to historic data.
This is a historic failure and one for which Biden is directly responsible. The fact that he has spent the entire year avoiding the border shows he is far more concerned about his poll numbers than he is about fixing this problem. He’s like a homeowner who decides to deal with a plumbing leak under the kitchen sink by staying out of the kitchen. That might work if you have reason to believe the leak will go away on its own, but according to a report from NBC earlier this month, things are about to get much worse.
At some point, Biden needs to stop passing the buck to former President Trump or his own Vice President, stop taking out his frustration on the border patrol who are trying to do their jobs and just own this. This is his problem and he could start taking it seriously by a) admitting it’s a crisis and b) going to the border to see it first hand. Then he can announce a plan to deal with it and explain which parts of the former president’s approach he plans to keep and which ones he plans to jettison. Anything less than that is putting politics ahead of the job he was elected to do for the country.