NY Times revelation: People coming to the US border don't believe it's closed (because it's not)

AP Photo/Fernando Llano, File

Now that we’re in the midst of a full fledged border crisis once again, immigration is finally a top story at some of the top newspapers. It’s at the top of the front page of the Washington Post and the NY Times. The Post story points out that we’re setting new records this week, averaging twice as many border crossings per day as we were in 2019 during what was then considered President Trump’s border crisis.

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The Border Patrol has averaged 8,750 migrant encounters per day over the past week, the memo noted, more than twice as high as the peak of the 2019 crisis when record numbers of Central American families overwhelmed the Trump administration…

CBP officials had more than 25,000 migrants in holding cells and processing facilities along the border this week, three times the system’s rated capacity, according to the latest government data obtained by The Post.

Yesterday, the administration put in place new restrictions on who can claim asylum that are intended to partially replace the loss of Title 42 later tonight. But the Post points out that under those rules the Biden administration is still legally required to make individual assessments of each migrant.

The Ortiz memo issued Wednesday directs Border Patrol supervisors to use an authority called “Parole with Conditions” that directs migrants to report to U.S. immigration authorities in their destination cities within 60 days. A federal judge in March ruled that the Biden administration’s use of a similar procedure was unlawful, calling it “little more than a speedbump” for migrants arriving illegally.

According to the Ortiz memo, obtained by The Post, “the decision to parole a noncitizen must still be made on a case-by-case individualized basis, examining all the facts and circumstances at the time of the noncitizen’s inspection, and only if there is an urgent humanitarian reason, such as ensuring the safety, health and security of the individual noncitizen, or significant public benefit justifying parole.”

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If the administration stays within the law, there’s simply no way they can keep up with 8,000 to 10,000 people a day. And that’s assuming it doesn’t get worse. What’s lacking from the Post story is any kind of broad assessment of what’s happening beyond this moment in time. How did things get to this point? Why is this happening?

The NY Times attempts to answer that in a story that opens by focusing on push factors, i.e. reasons migrants are eager to leave Central American and South America.

Many migrants are coming from places like Venezuela, which was suffering one of the worst economic crises in the world before the pandemic. Much of the country sank further into misery when the coronavirus shut the world down. A mass exit deepened, bringing the total number of Venezuelans who have fled since 2015 to 7.2 million — roughly a quarter of the population.

In Colombia, where worker protections are weak, joblessness reached its highest rate on record. Brazil recorded the second-highest number of Covid deaths worldwide. Immigrants who had already traveled from across Latin America to these two countries were among the first to lose their hold on any hope of a livelihood.

Eventually the Times gets around to some of the pull factors drawing people to the US at this moment. Among those are social media campaigns and the inconvenient fact that many people simply don’t believe it when the Biden administration claims the border is closed. They don’t believe it because they know people who’ve crossed into the US and been allowed to stay.

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In some cases, social media is being used to falsely advertise the coming border rule changes as the opening of the floodgates. On TikTok, posts tagged #titulo42 have been viewed more than 96 million times, with one popular post claiming, “May 11: You cannot be deported. Title 42 has come to an end.”…

…they also were told — by human smugglers, relatives and people posting on Facebook, TikTok and WhatsApp — that under President Biden, they could actually cross the border and stay.

Ms. García, who had just enough money to purchase a tent, a headlamp and two bags of bread for the jungle trip, had heard this from Venezuelans who had made it to the United States before her.

Andrew Selee who runs the Migration Policy Institute told the Times, “People who want to get to the United States know that it has been an advantageous time to try to get into the country.” It’s really not hard to understand why. Under President Biden 1.8 million migrants have been allowed to stay in the US, not including the “gotaways” which probably number in the hundreds of thousands. That’s a lot of people who are reporting to their relatives back home by phone or social media that the border is open.

Yes, it’s true most of those folks are officially claiming asylum but that’s a 7-year process for most of them. By the time a judge tells them to leave, they’ll have American children and they’ll never be asked to leave unless they commit a serious crime. So the word is out and now the migrants who’ve been dodging Title 42 have heard that’s ending as well. So expect some new records of border crossings over the coming week that make this week’s records look tame by comparison.

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Almost forgot to add this but the top comment on the NY Times story is pretty good.

We are a nation of laws, including immigration laws, and we are not alone in this regard. There isn’t a sovereign nation in the world in which you or I could simply walk across the border and expect to live, work, and raise a family, absent prosecution and deportation. Do our immigration laws need to be reformed? Obviously, yes. Does that matter one bit with regard to those who are about to attempt to cross our border illegally, or the millions who have already done so? Not remotely.

Again, it’s not illegal to cross the border to claim asylum which is why so many do it. But nearly all of these folks are in fact economic migrants. Just pull up any news report from the border and you’ll see people saying they came for a better life or a better job. That’s understandable but it’s not grounds for an asylum claim.

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