A ‘radical shift’ at the border complicates things for Biden

A 'radical shift' at the border complicates things for Biden
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Decades ago, the vast majority of immigrants trying to cross the border between ports of entry were Mexicans. A few years ago, many came from Central American countries known as the Northern Triangle: Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. But now, according to Border Patrol statistics, the number of people coming from outside these places is increasing and increasing rapidly.

To better understand this trend, CNN dived into the data. Let’s take a look at what we’ve seen, why this change is so important, why it happened, what it looks like on the pitch, and what might happen next.

What we see: There is a big change in who comes to the US-Mexico border. Large numbers of immigrants from Mexico and the Northern Triangle still travel. But the number of immigrants from other countries, represented here in purple, has increased significantly.

In 2007, the number of immigrants in this “other” category was negligible. But since then it has grown dramatically – 11,000% – with the sharpest increase in just the past two years.

U.S. Border Patrol encounters show more immigrants trying to cross the Southwest border from Mexico in July than any other country. But for the first time so far this fiscal year, encounters with immigrants from outside of Mexico and the Northern Triangle outpaced encounters with immigrants from those regions.

A handful of countries make up a large part of this border-growing group. The number of encounters by US Border Patrol officials on the southwestern border with immigrants from Cuba, Colombia, Nicaragua and Venezuela has increased dramatically over the past two years.

A warning about the numbers: For this analysis, we used U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics on Border Patrol encounters that included both immigrants apprehended and at least temporarily detained at the border, and immigrants immediately deported to their home country and Mexico. This data gives us the best overall picture of who is coming and what is happening at the border.

However, officials acknowledged that the numbers could be inflated as it includes some of the rejected immigrants. “Title 42” public health policy, then tried to pass again. In other words, the same persons can be counted multiple times.

This is an issue that mostly affects immigrants from Mexico and the Northern Triangle, who are more likely to be subject to Title 42 restrictions than immigrants from other countries.

Why is this important: Doris Meissner, who heads US immigration policy studies at the nonpartisan Institute for Immigration Policy in Washington, says the rise in additional nationalities at the border “makes border practices even more complicated.”

He says for decades, many border policies have been designed with Mexican immigrants in mind, but deporting people to other countries is much more difficult. there are limits For example, which nationalities can be returned under Title 42. And cold diplomatic relations can also affect deportations.

“These populations … require different kinds of responses,” Meissner says. “We have not established an asylum system that has in no way reached the level of difficulty that this change brings.”

Administration officials argue they are working hard to address the root causes of migration. And President Joe Biden described it as a “semi-global challenge”.

But Bier says authorities are not doing enough.

“The Biden administration cannot respond to this new reality with the same old playbook,” he said on Twitter. He told CNN that the administration did exactly that. “Many of the same kinds of reactions,” he says.

Why is this happening: There’s no simple reason why this happens, Bier says.

“There are as many answers as there are countries represented in this group,” he says.

CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus recently told CBS News Given how complex the situations in their home countries are, it is impossible to pinpoint all the factors that push immigrants to travel. “It’s a very complex set of dynamics,” he said.

Meissner, who served as commissioner of the Office of Immigration and Naturalization from 1993 to 2000, says the pandemic has played an important role in intensifying economic pressures.

Other factors are also at work. Meissner says the increased number of Cubans heading towards the United States can be attributed in part to a new air route between Cuba and Nicaragua. CNN’s Patrick Oppmann, after Nicaragua lowered visa requirements for Cubans, people started posting online ads selling their homes with “everything inside” to pay for the expensive plane ticket.

Worsening economic conditions, food shortages and limited access to healthcare are forcing more and more Venezuelans to leave the country, Meissner says, and the growing Venezuelan community in the United States is also a draw.

For Colombians and Nicaraguans, economic instability combined with the pandemic has been the main driver of migration, but he says politics also play a role.

Increasing pressure under the Ortega regimeparticularly during the last presidential election, it reinforced the belief among many Nicaraguans that the country’s political turmoil would not be resolved in the short term,” says Meissner.

And those who previously saw neighboring Costa Rica as a target are more likely to look elsewhere due to dwindling job opportunities there, he says.

Meissner says rising inflation and unemployment in Colombia are fueling more immigration. Social unrest after a wave of protests in 2021 and political divisions that intensified during the last presidential election also likely influenced immigrants’ decisions, he says.

How it looks in this place: This is not something we can only see with statistics. Both immigrants and Border Patrol officials say they noticed the change.

Chris Clem, Yuma Border Patrol Sector Chief He told CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez last month He said he was pushing his agents of multiple nationalities crossing the border.

“The countries we are currently accepting – these nations are flying in, they are coming to the border and they need to be processed, and there are so many that it is challenging the workforce,” he said.

Speaking to CNN earlier this year,A Cuban immigrant described a house in the Mexican desert where he was waiting to cross the border with others.

“One room was full of Cubans,” he said. Another was full of people from different countries.

“There were Colombians, Bangladeshis, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, Haitians,” he said. “I felt like the whole world was there.”

What could happen next: Like everything border-related, there is a lot of debate about what authorities should do about it.

Biden administration officials They repeatedly emphasized that the border is not open. But proponents of increased immigration restrictions argue that government policies are encouraging more people to take their chances at crossing the border illegally. Some — including more than 50% of Republicans, according to a recent NPR-Ipsos survey — They say they believe it is entirely true that “the United States is experiencing an invasion on its southern border”. And some Republican candidates highlights this message As the midterm elections approach, they promise to do more if elected to curb illegal immigration.

Bier and Meissner say the changing nature of immigrants at the border shows how badly the US immigration system needs to be overhauled.

“Many, if not most, of these people may not be eligible for asylum, despite fleeing very difficult conditions,” Meissner says. “We desperately need Congress to address immigration laws and make it possible for other legal avenues to come to the United States.”

And he says countries in the Western Hemisphere need to work together and treat migration as a shared responsibility.

So far, there is no sign of this trend slowing down. And Bier and Meissner say they didn’t expect that to happen.

“It’s perfectly reasonable to think that this could take many years, because we don’t have the infrastructure to export people as fast as they come,” Bier says.

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