Undocumented attempts to cross the US-Mexico border are on the rise, up more than 50% from their pre-COVID 2019 peak. Some are made by natives of Mexico and migrants from the “Northern Triangle” from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, but there are also Haitians who fled a violent and unstable country even before the series of devastating events that occurred. over there this summer. These are Haitian refugees who were being chased by border patrol agents on horseback in photos that were widely circulated last week.

The Biden administration responded to outrage over these historically disturbing images by announcing that border patrol agents would no longer be allowed to ride horses while they capture refugees for deportation. (Biden made the controversial decision to expand his predecessor’s pandemic policy of using the “Title 42” public health law to deny all attempts to seek asylum at the border.) It was a ridiculous protest. the White House’s underlying problem: caught between its commitment to be more human than the Trump administration and the general public’s longstanding reluctance to open the border to hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees at once, he tried to find common ground to project empathy and concern while carrying out mass deportations in the hope that people will stop coming to the border in the first place.

According to the New York Times, this is supposedly part of a long progressive game:

There is an internal logic to the idea. Many Americans say they support immigration as long as it is legal, waiting in line for its turn, but are alarmed that people are entering the country through the desert from the southwest and go where they want. In theory, if you were able to dissuade or deter potential immigrants from congregating at the southern border or attempting to cross it without permission, you could gain enough public trust on the matter to increase the number of people. allowed through the proverbial front door. .

It doesn’t work, however, and to understand why, let’s consider the central buzzword of Biden’s border strategy: “tidy.” The alleged purpose of the order is everywhere in the administration’s thinking on the matter, including The Times’ paraphrase of Rice’s position and the statement released this week after the State Department’s special envoy resigned. in Haiti in protest. This individual, Daniel Foote, condemned Biden’s policy towards Haitians as “inhumane” and “counterproductive”, to which the state responded that “the United States remains committed to supporting safe, orderly and humane migration. throughout our region ”.

Consider this in context. In 1986, Ronald Reagan said that a major immigration bill that included a number of implementing provisions would help establish “a reasonable, fair, orderly and secure system.” A decade later, Bill Clinton was touting another heavy-handed law that he said would make immigration “safer and more orderly.” at the end of his second term, that illegal immigration should be controlled in order to create a “secure, productive, orderly and fair” legal system. And the Obama administration in which Susan Rice previously worked said when this came to power in 2009 as he worked for an “orderly” expansion of legal immigration, for which he sadly attempted to garner public support by deporting millions of people.

Order has always remained elusive despite the essentially continuous and universal escalation of enforcement across regimes. The number of officers deployed to the US-Mexico border has increased twenty-fold since the 1970s, but the number of crossing attempts nonetheless increased steadily for decades, mainly by Mexican nationals, and remained high until the 1970s. in the economic crash of 2008. (At this point there were an estimated 12.2 million undocumented immigrants in the country.) Crossing attempts began to increase again during Obama’s tenure as the economy recovered and that conditions in Central America were deteriorating. Donald Trump went on to win the presidency on one of the most anti-immigrant platforms in American history and instituted such cruel policies as he had promised, but attempts to cross over by Central Americans have also increased at the end of his term.

On the other side of the equation, a “comprehensive immigration reform” – opening up legal access to the country, for which border enforcement is still supposed to lead the way – has been proposed to Congress. under Bush and Obama. He failed both times, buried in each case by white nativist sentiment. The premise, remember, is that the threat of strict enforcement will both curtail undocumented southern border crossings and appease the faction of voters and representatives who believe immigrants arriving this way are for most drug dealers and gang members planning to defraud the welfare system. The reality is that he never succeeded either.

It is telling, on that note, that the border “crisis” started as a Mexican phenomenon, has morphed into a Central American phenomenon, and is now Haitian. Studies are underway in academia and politics to determine exactly which ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors contribute the most to migratory surges, but it’s safe to say that even the most restrictive and hostile governments cannot. prevent them completely. People leave their homes for reasons ranging from mass unemployment to civil war to natural disasters, and are often willing to take the well-known risks of drowning or dehydration to do so. It is a chaotic phenomenon by nature.

This has been true even when the US economy and the domestic situations of its neighbors in the Western Hemisphere have contributed to “low” levels of migration. Under Obama, with border apprehensions as infrequent as they had been since the 1970s, the backlog of pending asylum claims reached nearly 500,000, with cases taking an average of 667 days to resolve . A federal judge ruled that the administration violated the terms of an earlier legal settlement by indefinitely detaining families with children, and there has been bipartisan outrage over the failure to respect the protection of unaccompanied minors.

If there is indeed a way to turn away the weary and the poor that is both orderly and humane, Joe Biden is no closer to finding it than Ronald Reagan was. And while cruelty may not be the goal of Biden’s policy, or that of most of his predecessors, it is the inevitable result of trying to keep so many desperate people out of the country where they would like to. to live.

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