“Hey, whatever happened to the border crisis?” That was the title of Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin’s May 2 piece in which she argued, yet again, that there’d never really been a crisis and that the Biden administration was handling it “competently and compassionately.”
The number of unaccompanied minors in custody had dropped 84 percent, overcrowded facilities for them were becoming less overcrowded and, after all, this was just a seasonal surge, Rubin wrote.
Now, granted, all of that was missing the point or wrong (the “seasonal surge” explanation for the number of migrants at the border had already been thoroughly debunked at that point), but, yes, the border crisis isn’t even occupying a back-burner these days. Between inflation, pipeline hacks, soaring energy prices and a massive amount of federal spending being shoved down America’s maw as if we were a goose undergoing gavage in order to become foie gras, there’s no shortage of other news to occupy our time.
That doesn’t mean the border crisis isn’t there, however. In fact, President Joe Biden’s administration just broke a 20-year record in that department.
According to data from Customs and Border Protection, the Border Patrol encountered 178,622 individuals trying to cross into the United States from Mexico in April, the most since April of 2000. It’s also up 3 percent since March, those bad old days when we had a border crisis going on. (We still do, despite what Jen Rubin thinks, although that’s for another day.)
The difference is, as The Associated Press reported from Texas on Thursday, the demographics of those trying to cross illegally are shifting.
“Parents emerge from the brush into a baseball field, carrying exhausted children. Border Patrol agents dictate orders: Families with young children in one line and unaccompanied children in another. The smallest of three lines is for single adults,” the piece began.
“The scene Tuesday night in La Joya, a town of about 4,000 people, plays out nightly in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, presenting Joe Biden with one of the most serious challenges of his young presidency — high numbers of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border to seek asylum. April was the second-busiest month on record for unaccompanied children encountered at the border, following March’s all-time high.
“But while asylum-seeking families and children dominate public attention, single adults represent a growing number of border encounters, nearly two of every three in April,” the AP noted. “They are less likely to surrender to authorities than families and children, making them less visible.”
And therein lies the problem.
Of the 178,622 encounters the Border Patrol faced, 108,301 were single adults. In the past, the issue was that family units and minors had to be detained, whereas single adults could be sent back.
So, yes, the facilities aren’t overcrowded anymore, much to Jen Rubin’s delight. The problem is that those facilities were overcrowded because those migrants had every reason to turn themselves in to Border Patrol. Single adults don’t because they’ll be sent back.
And, while the Border Patrol might have encountered 108,301 single adults in April, the question practically presents itself: How many of them didn’t they encounter?
In Texas, for instance, The Washington Times reported that a state system of border cameras called Operation Drawbridge recorded a 156 percent increase in crossings between January and April 7 over the same period last year.
During the first few months of this year, the system recorded 21,904 so-called “gotaways.” In 2020, the number was 8,561.
Part of this could be due to the prevalence of unaccompanied minors and family units during the early part of the surge, experts say.
The Biden administration created a perverse incentive for children and family units to make the crossing because of an exemption from COVID-related authority called Title 42, which allowed U.S. officials to summarily expel any migrant trying to cross into the United States illegally. However, the Biden administration ruled it didn’t apply to minors, which is why the original rush of unaccompanied children and family units clogged up facilities.
While officials were busy solving that problem, however, another one reared its ugly head.
“Some current and former border enforcement officials say massive attention on families and unaccompanied children consumes agents’ time and has created an opening for single adults and drug smugglers to elude authorities,” the AP reported.
And that’s another issue: Single adults could potentially be bad actors — gang members, drug smugglers or individuals who have been previously removed from the country. Given the lack of attention that’s been given to the border, this may only get worse — particularly since the new administration hasn’t gone out of its way to dissuade migrants from making the journey.
Whatever the case, the Biden administration has set a 20-year record: Most U.S. agent encounters with illegal immigrants in a single month since Bill Clinton was president. And yet, the Biden administration doesn’t think their messaging on illegal immigration has anything to do with it.
“Hey, whatever happened to the border crisis?” It got worse. The media just went on ignoring it. And if it gets even worse than this, they’ll keep on ignoring it.
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