There is a massive surge in migrants in the U.S. Mexico border. More than 104,000 people tried to cross the U.S. Mexico Border in February. Apprehensions at the border are projected to hit a twenty year high. Border patrol agents are apprehending at least 500 children a day, an amount almost three times as high as last year. Many of the families and children are from Central America fleeing gang related violence. Most of the single adults are men from Mexico seeking work.
Poor economic conditions in Latin America have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Last year, two back to back hurricanes hit Honduras and Guatemala, which are now sending more migrants than El Salvador, which previously sent more. However, some migrants have testified to the fact that they came because Biden's policies are more welcoming than Trump's. A group of migrants came to the border wearing T Shirts saying "Biden, Let Us in." Deporting undocumented immigrants and securing the border was of course, a hallmark of Donald Trump's campaign whereas Biden ran on a message of making America inclusive again.
Although Biden said in an interview to migrants "Don't Come." This is hardly the message that migrants are listening to.
“At the end of the day, these illegal migrants don’t listen to government officials,” Former Homeland Security (DHS) acting secretary Chad Wolf told Fox News, responding to calls from Biden to migrants urging them to stay home. Wolf said illegal immigrants instead “listen to other illegals who have gotten into the U.S. that call them and tell them that they are here, they are staying in the U.S., they are not being deported or removed to their home countries,”
Biden saying "Don't Come." definitely constitutes mixed messaging considering the fact that his administration is spending 86 million dollars on hotel rooms for migrants.
The Wall Street Journal reports,
"Mr. Biden has reversed numerous border and asylum policies implemented by the Trump administration. These include the Migrant Protection Protocols, a program requiring asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases are decided in U.S. courts, and multiple policies barring migrants from qualifying for asylum, including a rule disqualifying them if they passed through a third country en route to the U.S. without making a claim in that country.
On his first day in office, Mr. Biden announced 100-day pause on deportations, which has been temporarily blocked by a federal judge in Texas. On the same day, the president proposed a broad immigration bill that would create an eight-year path to citizenship for immigrants living in the U.S. without a permanent legal status, and an expedited pathway for farmworkers and certain young immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have lived in the country illegally. The Biden administration also ended agreements signed by the Trump administration that allowed the U.S. to send some asylum seekers in the U.S. to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador."
It is important to mention however, that Biden is continuing an important aspect of Trump's immigration policy. His administration is also enforcing the public health law Title 42 which usually immediately sends back single adults into Mexico without the right to apply for asylum. For Hatians, the Biden administration has actually been harsher than Trump's. Due to enforcement of the Title 42 law, more Hatians were deported in a few weeks under the Biden administration than in a whole year under Trump's.
The result is a humanitarian crisis. In the migrant detention center at Donna Texas, holding pods designed to hold 80 children were seen crammed at nearly 10 times capacity, holding 709. The Donna facility is only meant to hold 250 migrants but is now holding 1,800 according to CBS. Neha Desai, a lawyer representing migrant youth in U.S. government custody, said she interviewed children who said they were hungry, as well as minors who only showered once in seven days.
"Some of the boys said that conditions were so overcrowded that they had to take turns sleeping on the floor," Desai told CBS.
Democratic congressman Henry Cuellar released photos of 400 male minors being held at a border facility in Texas in a section meant only 250. Children are not supposed to be held in custody for more than three days. More than 2000 children have passed that limit. These cramped facilities present a huge risk for the spread of COVID. Incredibly thousands of migrants have been released without being tested for COVID. The New York Post reports, US Customs and Border Protection in Del Rio have released 2,000 migrants without ensuring that they received a COVID-19 test.
The way that politicians have reacted to this crisis shows a fascinating and disturbing truth about just how cynical Washington has become. Democrats, who called more than 10 hearings during the last migrant surge while Trump was in office are silent now that a migration crisis is unfolding under the Biden administration.
This silence is easy to explain. Why would partisan Democrats point to the fact that Biden is keeping kids in cages? The migrants themselves are telling us that they are coming because of Biden's policies. This is a very uncomfortable truth for Democrats and their allies in the mainstream press. Amazingly, the Washington Post published an obtuse "Monkey Cage'' analysis titled "The migrant ‘surge’ at the U.S. southern border is actually a predictable pattern." Not one migrant was actually interviewed in this analysis. It's almost certain that any of them would have said that Biden's policies incentivize them to come.
The migrants have an unlikely ally. The Republican party. Republicans on Fox News have been slamming the conditions as inhumane. The Republicans have rightfully slammed Biden's decision to block journalists from entering migrant facilities as one that is against freedom of the press and against the wellbeing of migrants. 19 Republican Senators visited the migrant processing facility at Donna Texas to spotlight the inhumane conditions.
"We saw the Biden cages." Ted Cruz declared afterwards.
The liberal silence and Republican support illustrates the cynicism by which Washington operates. Ted Cruz didn't denounce kids in cages while Trump was president. To my knowledge, none of the 19 did. They have only started caring about the condition of migrants now that a Democrat's policies have led to increased migrant detention. Watching recent Fox News clips, it almost appears as if the parties have switched positions on this issue. Unless this represents a genuine change of heart, it is truly a cynical calculated political move. Trump, to his credit, at least allowed journalists inside detainment facilities. Biden is trying to cover the crisis up. All of the press should be blasting him for this decision; journalists must defend their role as public watchdogs. Border patrol agents are even being prevented from talking to journalists.
Hopefully this analysis is wrong. Maybe Fox News coverage of inhumane conditions will really inspire some change of hearts and the Republican party truly becomes a lasting force for the wellbeing of migrants. Until then, I will be skeptically watching everyone in Washington.