Overall migration apprehensions have decreased significantly at the Southwestern Border since the 2000’s. Is there a need for declaring a “State of Emergency?” Are there clear indications that apprehensions are on the rise? Or is this a fear-based fictional narrative that our President is promoting and that the complicit Republicans support?

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April 11, 2019 by epoetus

The facts are being muddled

sw-border-apprehensions-by-fiscal-year

The graph above shows the trend of apprehensions at the Southwest border by year since 1960.

 

total-apps-2012-2016-20161017

Please note: that there are discrepancies between the two graphs provided by CBP (above and below) – the current administration now includes the inadmissible figure in this calculation which makes the totals look higher. It appears that inadmissible may be a definition that the President is changing to reflect the kind of policies that he wants to support (see link below), but basically there are people who will not be allowed into the united states because they meet the definition of being inadmissible.

 
According to FactCheck.org, in 2017 the number of apprehensions on the Southwest Border was 303,916 — under the previously new low FY15 number of 331,333. We can see in the CPB graph below that it calculated the number at 415, 517 – a 25% higher number. A comparison of 2016, where both graphs present their data, yields a similar percentage of 35% higher with the newer calculation method.

FY19TD_Feb_SWB_Migration graphic

In 2018 there were 396,569 apprehensions. Using the CPB chart above, we see a 31% increase in the number or 521,090.

For the first five months in 2019 the numbers appear to be rising, which using simple math could result in 643,306 apprehensions for the year – a number estimate that may put the actuals for 2019 between 2007 and 2008. Since the methods of calculation have changed, this is hard to conclude with certainty as a rough adjustment for this method change shows that the actuals could be 514,000 (25% less) or 476,522 (35% less) – numbers that are close to what was seen in 2014.

 

Root Cause, Problem Statement and Solution Definition

“Although I believe that chronic poverty motivates most of these illegal crossings into the United States, widespread human rights concerns—particularly the threats of gang recruitment and retribution— are undeniable. After studying this matter for many months, I accept the proposition of human rights advocates who say that a growing number of the UACs [Unaccompanied Children] arriving in recent years are making bona fide asylum claims, which should be adjudicated accordingly.” – Testimony of Ambassador Roger F. Noriega to Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs United States Senate March 25, 2015 2:00 PM SD-‐342, Dirksen Senate Office Building

 
“Despite the end of political conflicts in the early 1990s, additional migration was driven by family unification, natural disasters, and persistent political and economic volatility, with many individuals entering illegally. Following a series of natural disasters in the region, Salvadorans, Hondurans, and Nicaraguans became eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), offering provisional protection against deportation and eligibility for work authorization. TPS has been renewed for Honduras and Nicaragua until January 2018, and El Salvador until March 2018.

 
The region continues to suffer from poor political and socioeconomic conditions, including some of the world’s highest homicide rates and widespread gang violence, which drive ongoing migration. “ — from migration policy.org 4/5/2017

 
“A month after arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border in hopes of being granted asylum in the U.S, about 100 refugees from Honduras marched to the U.S. Consulate in the border city of Tijuana on Tuesday to tell officials that they will return home—but only if the country that’s refused to observe their right to asylum pays them reparations for the destruction and destabilization its foreign policy has caused in their home country and throughout Central America.” Commondreams.org 12/12/2018

 
Even approaches that have accounted for the root causes of regional mass migration have underestimated the impact of climate change. The Obama Administration pledged roughly seven hundred and fifty million dollars to the northern triangle of Central America, an aid package known as the Alliance for Prosperity, which aimed to address mounting poverty, political corruption, and cycles of crime and violence. Little of that money dealt with issues of environmental sustainability, however, even though half of the Guatemalan workforce is in the agricultural sector. Sebastian Charchalac, an agronomist and environmental consultant who headed the Climate, Nature, and Communities project in the western highlands until 2017, told me, “It’s like the State Department is looking at the fire, but not the kindling.” – New Yorker article April, 2019

 

Summary

Are there legitimate reasons for people to migrate from Latin America to the United States? Yes, there are. The renewal of TPS for Honduras and Nicaragua, which expired last March, demonstrated that. Poor political and economic conditions in these countries continue to contribute to pulling people into the US. The coup in Honduras and US policy supporting it have contributed, and the situation there has not improved since. Climate change is also a cause for migration, as has been seen with migration patterns from North Africa into Europe. Do the numbers of apprehensions appear to be increasing? Yes, but it is hard to tell if it is a normal annual fluctuation or a trend because the way in which these numbers are calculated has changed. Is the situation a crisis? If the 2019 numbers turn out to really reflect a 50% increase to 643,306, then maybe we are seeing a spike in illegal migration activity, but it is more likely that the real numbers are significantly lower if they are adjusted to reflect the way they were calculated under the previous administration. In light of the xenophobic fear and emotions promoted by the President, his administration and the Republicans, including the declaration of a state of emergency to build a wall which the legislature has refused to support, and a lack of engagement in a factual discussion around problems, their causes and solutions, it is hard to believe that there is a legitimate justification to call the situation a crisis – a better interpretation of this situation would be to call it “crying wolf.” With the departure of Kirstjen Nielsen as the head of The Department of Homeland Security that is now part of an overall shake-up, it appears that the administration intends to secure its xenophobic position and engage in further – untenable? — rhetorical escalation. A mature response by leaders who cared would include acknowledging and addressing the root causes of the systemic problems in these countries, so that people are not compelled to migrate to the United States, and if they are then they can have a swift hearing on their asylum claim, and not a “not my problem” wall-building exercise which will also involve privately-run detention centers that engage in unethical and politically motivated inhumane practices (e.g. preventing detainees from getting abortions.)

References

Pew Research: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/14/mexico-us-border-apprehensions/
FactCheck.org: https://www.factcheck.org/2018/04/the-stats-on-border-apprehensions/
Migration policy.org: https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/central-american-immigrants-united-states/
Current CPB report https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/sw-border-migration
CPB official reporting for 2017 https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/sw-border-migration-fy2017
CPB official reporting for 2018 https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/sw-border-migration/fy-2018#
Root Causes for migration: https://justiceforimmigrants.org/what-we-are-working-on/immigration/root-causes-of-migration/
Noriega Senate Testimony 2015 on the causes of migration: https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/download/?id=128b0a22-731c-4ce4-b5eb-40ab4fd807cc
Commondreams.org asylum seekers letter: https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/12/12/refused-right-seek-asylum-honduran-refugees-demand-reparations-destructive-us
Abortions blocked in detention centers:https://www.politico.com/story/2017/10/22/immigrant-abortion-detention-appeal-244053
Inadmissible definition for Department of Homeland Security last updated February 2019. https://www.dhs.gov/publication/proposed-rule-inadmissibility-public-charge-grounds
New yorker article showing climate change is causing pressure on the southwest border (as in Europe) https://www.newyorker.com/news/dispatch/how-climate-change-is-fuelling-the-us-border-crisis

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