EXPLAINER: Is the US border with Mexico in crisis?

Nearly 19,000 children traveling alone were stopped at the Mexican border in March, smashing previous highs set during periods of heavy child migration in 2014 and 2019.

Is it a crisis? Spin and semantics aside, migration to the U.S. from Mexico is increasing in a major way for the third time in seven years under Republican and Democratic presidents — and for similar reasons.

HOW HAS MIGRATION CHANGED SINCE JOE BIDEN BECAME PRESIDENT?

Border encounters — a widely used but imperfect gauge that tells how many times U.S. authorities came across migrants — rose sharply during Donald Trump’s final months as president, from an unusually low 17,106 last April to 74,108 in December. They soared during President Joe Biden’s first months in office. Encounters totaled more than 172,000 in March, up from about 100,000 the previous month and the highest since March 2001.

That’s only part of the picture, though. Who’s crossing is just as important a gauge as how many are making the attempt, if not even more.

Mexican adults fueled last year’s rise, a throwback to one of the largest immigration increases in U.S. history, spanning from 1965 through the Great Recession of 2008. In March 2020, the Trump administration introduced pandemic-related powers to immediately expel people from the United States without an opportunity to seek asylum. Facing no consequences, Mexican men kept trying until they made it.

About 28% of people expelled in March had been ousted before, according to Biden administration officials, compared with a 7% pre-pandemic recidivism rate in the 12-month period that ended in September 2019. The recidivism rate was 48% among Mexican adults during one two-week stretch last year in San Diego.

Families and children traveling alone, who have more legal protections and require greater care, became a bigger part of the mix after Biden took office. They accounted for more than 40% of all encounters in March, up from 13% three months earlier.

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Authorities encountered 18,890 unaccompanied children in March, well above previous highs of 11,475 in May 2019 and 10,620 in June 2014 reported by the Border Patrol, which began publishing numbers in 2009.

WHY ARE FAMILIES AND CHILDREN COMING NOW?

It’s complicated. Central Americans have been fleeing poverty and violence at least since civil wars of the 1980s, and Hurricane Eta in November and hunger have given new impetus for some in Guatemala and Honduras.

Migrants also are guided by changes in U.S. policy — both real and rumored. Biden exempted unaccompanied children from pandemic-related expulsions, allowing them to remain in the United States to pursue asylum.

About one of every three encounters with families in March resulted in expulsion, bringing families to the border with hopes they can remain in the U.S. Mexican authorities have resisted taking back Central American families with children 6 and under from Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, the busiest corridor for illegal crossings. That’s prompted U.S. authorities to start daily flights to El Paso, Texas, and San Diego to expel families from there.

While he has kept Trump’s …read more

Source:: Headlines News4jax

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