Illegal border crossings are at historic lows.
That is a statistic cited so often that it almost has become part of the common vernacular. The sun sets. The only certainties are death and taxes. And illegal border crossings are at historic lows.
It was an argument used last month in a statement issued by 58 former national security officials in response to President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency along the border. Because crossings are low, they asserted a factual basis for the declaration does not exist.
The problem for them and for the nation is that a basis does exist.
In a March 4 briefing, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) officials reported that a total of 76,325 apprehensions were made in February. That figure constitutes a 31 percent increase over January, and included 40,325 family units and 7,249 unaccompanied minors.
And both the January and February statistics mark the highest number of illegal border crossings in decades.
“One of misconceptions is that illegal border crossings are at the lowest level in decades. That simply is not true,” says Washington Post reporter Nick Miroff in a new podcast.
Miroff, who traveled to the southern border to talk with border officials, added that agents are fearful that if historic summer surges occur, there could be as many as 100,000 apprehensions per month.
If you (again) listen to the pro-amnesty advocates, they claim the surges are a consequence of rising violence and turmoil in Central America, primarily Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
Best not to listen. As the Center for Immigration Studies’ Matthew Sussis notes, in both Honduras and Guatemala, the murder rate has decreased while the number of migrants has increased.
So, why are the migrants continuing to come if violence is not worsening?
Miroff suggests the precipitating event for the recent surge was the backlash over the Trump administration’s so-called zero tolerance policy. He says the controversy and manufactured hysteria created by the detention of children forced the administration to back away from the policy.
In turn, smuggling networks in Central America were able to seize upon the policy change to broadcast a message to potential migrants that they would not be detained, particularly if a child was brought to the border with an adult.
“It became a golden smugglers’ pitch that they have used to recruit clients [by]telling parents and migrants they will not detained,” Miroff said.
In addition, smugglers have been able to use the controversy to lower their risk since migrants now are encouraged to surrender to border agents and start the asylum process. The “administrative path” into the U.S. which has “become the single biggest trend” at the border, he added.
There is a crisis at the border but activists and amnesty proponents are too busy living in the past (and past statistics) to see the future crisis just around the corner.