If a homeowner told you that ever since he or she installed a security system, attempts to break into or burglarize their home have gone down – thereby showing that the security system is no longer necessary – you would probably scratch your head in disbelief.
And yet the left-wing website Vox wants you to buy into similarly flawed “logic” in a June 25 article.Entitled “The US military will stay on the US-Mexico border, even with migration falling,” the piece questions the wisdom of retaining up to 4,000 troops at the southwestern border. This assertion comes in the wake of Secretary of the Department of Defense (DOD) Mark Esper’s recent approval of a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) request for DOD assistance to help secure the border.
The approval extends the current mission – which was set to expire at the end of September – through the next fiscal year.
At the same time, Vox notes that the newly authorized number of troops would, in fact, constitute a decrease from the 5,500 military personnel currently at the border. And most of the presence comes from the National Guard.
Nevertheless, the leftist outlet claims that even this somewhat reduced presence – “and other measures to secure the border” – are not really necessary. The reason, according to Vox, is that “migration overall has declined amid the pandemic.”
While there is little doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to reduced illegal migration, that is not the entire story. Surely President Trump’s multi-pronged efforts to secure the border and stem illegal migration – such as border wall construction and/or replacement, cracking down on asylum abuse, agreements with Mexico and Central American nations, and the deployment of U.S. military personnel – also had an effect.
The proof? Even before the pandemic led to the closure of the U.S.-Mexico border to all nonessential travel and the immediate return of illegal border crossers to countries through which they entered (rather than detaining them), the apprehension numbers were going down.
For instance, from a peak of 144,000 southwest border apprehensions and inadmissibles in May 2019, the figures steadily and significantly declined during the remainder of 2019 and the early months of 2020, i.e. before the coronavirus struck. For example, in January and February, theapprehensions were at the 36,000 mark, and March saw 34,000 apprehensions/inadmissibles.
When Vox points out that “U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) arrested about 23,000 migrants in May, a decrease from 114,000 in the same month in 2019,” it is technically correct. What the authors are missing is that 23,000 is still an increase from 17,000 apprehensions/inadmissables in April 2020. CBP has not yet released the June numbers. Given the relative uptick from April to May, there is little reason for complacency or a return to pre-Trump “business as usual” at the southwestern border.
The need for continued vigilance is only reinforced by the fact that illegal migration has historically ebbed and flowed. During the past four decades, decreases have usually been followed by increases. During the past decade, annual apprehensions/inadmissables have been in the 300,000-500,000 range, but 2019 saw a border surge and 860,000 apprehensions/inadmissables. Eight months into Fiscal Year 2020, we have had 276,000 apprehensions/inadmissables, but it is difficult to foretell what the future holds.
Relatively low current numbers do not indicate that there is no problem – or that a crisis has passed – but rather that the implemented solutions have had a positive effect. It does not take a crystal ball to realize that if we take the advice of the left – whether it is Vox’s implicit suggestion that we end the southwestern border military personnel deployment, or the open borders lobby’s general suggestion that we scrap all Trump border security and immigration policies – illegal migration numbers may very once again increase sharply.