How Immigration Clampdowns Create ‘Border Crises’


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The Biden administration is on target to approach a historical fiscal-year record for apprehending migrants on the U.S./Mexico border. We are likely to have seen 1.64 million such apprehensions by this month’s end of fiscal 2021, even as opponents absurdly accuse the president of pursuing “open borders” policies.

Keep that in mind as you see scenes of a border crossing point being overwhelmed today by would-be migrants. Such moment are not happening despite the clampdown, but because of it.

As the New York Post reports, the “number of migrants waiting under a bridge in Texas has doubled overnight and now tops 8,000 people….Drone footage shot by Fox News shows the sea of migrants, the majority from Haiti, under the International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas, and sources tell the network the situation is ‘out of control’ and that Border Patrol agents are overwhelmed.” Big crowds at the border set off media storms frequently these days, generally for a national Fox audience that will never have their life impacted by migrants being allowed to live and work unimpeded on the same continental landmass.

The Biden administration has been enforcing Title 42 returns of migrants to Mexico, whether they are Mexican or not. (This is done in the name of public health, which is seen as allowing for immediate expulsion no matter what U.S. asylum law dictates.) Though sometimes it’s luck of which border agent you end up dealing with that defines whether you are permitted to go to friends in Florida or forced back to Mexico.

There is a simpler, better way that would avoid these disconcertingly large crowds awaiting the rough justice of U.S. border policies. Those huge crowds in those drone videos are only there because it isn’t conveniently legal for would-be migrants to buy a bus or plane ticket and go anywhere in the U.S. that they want to.

They could do this either with their own funds or with money from charitable groups that currently spend their resources dealing with the awful aftermath of crossings at illegal entrance points, or with the legal troubles that arise from trying to do so at legal entrance points. The migrants could thus rendezvous with friends or family, or with other groups that want to help them assimilate. Or they could just start looking for the work that they came here to do in the first place. All without gathering in one place and looking scary to people who will likely never meet them or be harmed by them in any way.

For those who can’t make the laissez-faire step toward just letting human beings roam unmonitored through these United States, there’s the option of instant work visas with a requirement to show up for a later asylum hearing.

Or we could—as Joe Biden is mostly doing, like Donald Trump before him—double down on a system of feckless jawboning to keep people from trying to better their lives, of family breakup and child detention, of policies that force people to stay in America when they might rather return to their families elsewhere, and of pointless deaths and misery at the border.

Most would-be migrants simply cannot navigate the near-impossible maze of U.S. immigration law via the legal “front door.” But entering America could be as simple as buying a bus ticket or driving a car, with no massed crowds necessary. Pointlessly punitive policies that harm innocents and likely cost trillions in lost national wealth create the very situations that make people think we need more of those policies.

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