The numbers are in for July, and they confirm what we all know is happening on the southwest border. Federal authorities made more than 212,000 arrests in July, a 20-year record and a 13 percent increase over June, which was itself a 20-year record.
Almost more alarming than the sheer volume of border apprehensions is the trend. Illegal immigration tends to be seasonal; it surges in the spring and recedes during the hotter summer months as temperatures become dangerously high.
That’s not what’s happening this time. Illegal border-crossings have increased every month since last April, sharply increasing in February and March after Biden took office and spiking again from June to July
As the Washington Post’s Nick Miroff noted on Twitter, this is the second time this year the chart-makers at U.S. Customs and Border Protection have had to stretch the x-axis on their chart just to fit the growing monthly number of border arrests.
For the second time this year, CBP chart-makers have had to stretch the x-axis on their graphic, this time to accomodate 200,000+ migrants per month.
Blue line is FY2021. pic.twitter.com/Ddkv25uUlJ
— Nick Miroff (@NickMiroff) August 12, 2021
What these figures amount to, in human terms, is a humanitarian disaster. Images and video leaked this week by Border Patrol agents show CBP facilities in South Texas that are simply overrun: holding cells packed tight, makeshift fenced outdoor areas filled to standing-room only, migrants lying on the floor in close quarters, many of them mask-less.
Speaking in Laredo, Texas, on Thursday, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas once again euphemized the situation, calling it a “challenge,” and adding, in a self-congratulatory aside, “We confront challenges, and we meet them.”
No one believes that. Rather than meeting the challenge, the Biden administration has turned a challenge into a crisis, a crisis into chaos, and chaos into a disaster.
At this point, no one seriously believes that any reasonable precautions could be or are being taken to protect federal agents or migrants from the spread of COVID-19. Mayors and local law enforcement are beginning to speak out about the release of thousands of COVID-positive migrants into their communities. This week, ahead of a meeting with Mayorkas, Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz said his city was in a “public health crisis,” and that municipal officials were chartering four buses a day to send migrants to Austin and Houston after their release from CBP custody.
“These migrants aren’t being tested. Border Patrol doesn’t test them. We much less don’t have the infrastructure of testing and quarantining. When you test then if they’re positive then there’s an obligation there, or duty, to quarantine and that’s expensive and the NGOs don’t really have that capacity here locally,” he said.
Video of an overcrowded Border Patrol facility in the Rio Grande Valley Sector from this week.
From the source: "This has surpassed the point of sustainability — this is lunacy."
— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) August 11, 2021
Saenz also said that back in June, when the city still had resources and capacity to test, between 35 and 40 percent of migrants released by CBP were testing positive for COVID.
The Biden administration is still trying to maintain the fiction that most migrants are being expelled under Title 42, a public health order President Trump invoked in the early days of the pandemic after shutting down the border to prevent the spread of COVID. Under Title 42, migrants can be quickly expelled to the country of last transit without going through processing by CBP. The idea was to prevent overcrowding of CBP facilities during the pandemic.
Under Trump in 2020, the vast majority of all migrants were expelled under Title 42 — men, women, children — and illegal crossings dropped to almost nothing. Upon taking office in January, Biden immediately halted Title 42 expulsions for unaccompanied minors but claimed it would keep the order in place for adults and family units.
But that hasn’t happened. The Biden administration keeps saying Title 42 is “still in place,” but it’s not. In January, 92 percent of single adults arrested at the border were expelled under Title 42. That share has slowly gone down every month since. By May, it was 85 percent; by June, it was 82 percent; and in July, it was down to just 78 percent.
The same thing has been happening with family units, except on a much greater scale. In January, before Biden took office, 62 percent of migrant families were being expelled under Title 42. By June, expulsions had dropped precipitously, to just 14 percent. In July, they dropped to 12 percent.
What this means is that the vast majority of family units — along with all unaccompanied minors — are not being expelled at all, but are received, processed, and in most cases released pending the outcome of an asylum process that on average takes about three years. All told in July, less than half (about 45 percent) of those arrested at the border were expelled under Title 42.
Put simply, this is an open borders policy, despite what the Biden administration might claim. And it’s worse than it appears. In Laredo on Thursday, Mayorkas said, “Migrants encountered at our border are expelled or are placed into immigration enforcement proceeding.” But that too is a lie.
A growing number of migrants — especially in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, the epicenter of the crisis — are released with what’s called a “notice to report,” which means federal authorities tell them to report to an immigration office once they get to wherever they’re going in the United States.
This is a new policy at the border that amounts to an ad-hoc honor system. Usually, migrants would be released with a “notice to appear,” that is, a court date, where an immigration judge would begin the process of adjudicating their asylum case.
But now, because federal border authorities are so overwhelmed they don’t have time or resources even to process the migrants they’re arresting, they increasingly release them without a court date, in hopes that these people will, of their own volition, file an asylum claim that they will almost certainly be denied (only about 15 percent of asylum-seekers from Mexico and Central America are ever granted asylum).
No one seriously believes the Biden administration has any real plan for the border except to process and release (or in some cases simply to release) as many migrants as show up on the Rio Grande. When Mayorkas or White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki or Biden himself says that the border is closed, or that it’s under control, or that they have a plan, understand that they’re lying to you, and that no matter how bad the border gets, they will keep lying.
The one thing they will under no circumstances do is change policy, enforce the law, and close the border.