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A “radical shift” on the border makes it harder for Biden

A "radical shift" on the border makes it harder for Biden
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Decades ago, the vast majority of migrants attempting to cross the border between ports of entry were Mexicans. A few years ago most came from the Central American countries known as the Northern Triangle: Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. But now, according to Border Police statistics, the number of people coming from outside these places is growing — and fast.

To better understand this trend, CNN delved into the data. Here’s a look at what we’re seeing, why this change is so significant, why it’s happening, what this looks like on the ground, and what might happen next.

What we see: There is a big change in who comes to the US-Mexico border. Large numbers of migrants from Mexico and the Northern Triangle are still making their way. But the number of migrants from other countries, shown here in purple, has increased significantly.

As recently as 2007, the number of migrants in this “other” category was negligible. But since then it’s grown dramatically — 11,000% — with the sharpest increase in the last two years.

Encounters with US border patrol still show that more migrants from Mexico attempt to cross the southwestern border in July than from any other country. But so far this fiscal year, for the first time, encounters with migrants from outside of Mexico and the Northern Triangle have outpaced encounters with migrants from either of those regions.

A handful of countries make up a large part of this growing group on the border. The number of encounters by US Border Patrol agents at the Southwest border with migrants from Cuba, Colombia, Nicaragua and Venezuela has increased dramatically over the past two years.

A word of caution about the numbers: For this analysis, we used U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics on encounters with border guards — which include both migrants who are apprehended at the border and held at least temporarily, and migrants who are promptly deported to their home countries and Mexico. This data gives us the best overall picture of who is arriving and what is happening at the border.

However, officials have acknowledged that the numbers may be inflated as they include some migrants who have gone back into hiding the public health policy “Title 42”., then attempted to cross again. In other words, the same people can be counted multiple times.

This is an issue that primarily affects migrants from Mexico and the Northern Triangle, who are more subject to Title 42 restrictions than migrants from other countries.

Why this matters: Doris Meissner, who leads work on US immigration policy at the bipartisan Migration Policy Institute in Washington, says the proliferation of additional nationalities at the border “complicates border enforcement even more.”

Many border policies have been geared towards Mexican migrants for decades, she says, but deporting people to other countries is much more difficult. There are Limits to which citizenships can be returned under, for example, Title 42. And even frosty diplomatic relations can affect deportations.

“These populations … require different types of responses,” says Meissner. “We have not created an asylum system that is in any way up to the challenges that this change brings.”

Administration officials argue that they are working hard to address the root causes of migration. And President Joe Biden has described it as a “hemispheric challenge”.

But Bier says officials aren’t doing enough.

“The Biden administration cannot respond to this new reality with the same old playbook,” he said on Twitter. He told CNN the government appears to be doing just that. “It’s a lot of the same types of answers,” he says.

Why it happens: There’s no simple reason why that’s happening, Bier says.

“There are as many answers,” he says, “as countries are represented in this group.”

CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus recently to CBS News Given the complicated situation in their home countries, it is impossible to name all the factors that motivate migrants to set off. “It’s a very complex set of dynamics,” he said.

Meissner, who served as an officer for the Immigration and Naturalization Service from 1993 to 2000, says the pandemic has played an important role in intensifying economic pressures.

Other factors also play a role. An increase in Cubans en route to the US, Meissner says, can be attributed in part to a new flight route between Cuba and Nicaragua. CNN’s Patrick Oppmann reported that after Nicaragua lifted visa requirements for Cubans, People started running ads online to sell their homes with “everything included”. to pay for the expensive flight.

Deteriorating economic conditions, food shortages and limited access to health care are increasingly pushing Venezuelans to leave the country, and a growing Venezuelan community in the United States is also a draw, Meissner says.

For Colombians and Nicaraguans, economic instability – compounded by the pandemic – has been the main reason for migration, she says, but politics also play a role.

Increasing repression under the Ortega regimeespecially during the recent presidential elections, has strengthened the conviction among many Nicaraguans that the country’s political turmoil will not be resolved in the short term,” says Meissner.

And those who previously viewed neighboring Costa Rica as a destination are more likely to look elsewhere due to declining job prospects there, she says.

Rising inflation and unemployment in Colombia are fueling more migration, says Meissner. Social unrest following a wave of protests in 2021 and political divisions, which deepened during the recent presidential election, are also likely to influence migrants’ choices, she says.

This is what it looks like on the ground: We can’t see that just from statistics. Both migrants and border guards say they’re noticing the shift.

Yuma Border Patrol sector chief Chris Clem said CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez last month that the large number of nationalities crossing the border strained his agents.

“The countries we’re receiving now — those nationalities fly in, arrive at the border and have to be cleared, and there’s just so many of them that it’s a challenge for the staff,” he said.

I spoke to CNN earlier this yeara Cuban migrant described a house in the Mexican desert where she had been waiting with others to cross the border.

One room is crammed with Cubans, she said. And another was full of people from different countries.

“There were Colombians, Bangladeshis, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, Haitians,” she said. “It felt like the whole world was in it.”

What could happen next: As with anything border-related, there is much debate as to what officials should do.

Biden administration officials have repeatedly emphasized that the border is not open. However, advocates of increasing immigration restrictions argue that administrative policies have prompted more people to try their luck at illegal border crossings. Some – including more than 50% of Republicans, according to a recent NPR Ipsos poll — say they believe it is entirely true that “the United States is experiencing an invasion on the southern border”. And some Republican candidates underline this message As midterm elections loom, they promise that if elected they will do more to crack down on illegal immigration.

Bier and Meissner say the changing composition of migrants at the border shows how badly the US immigration system is in need of an overhaul.

“Many, if not most, of these people are probably not entitled to asylum even though they are fleeing very difficult conditions,” says Meissner. “We urgently need to get Congress to deal with immigration laws and allow other legal avenues to enter the United States.”

And countries across the western hemisphere need to work together and address migration as a shared responsibility, she says.

So far, there are no signs that this trend is slowing down. And Bier and Meissner say they don’t expect it.

“It’s entirely plausible that things can go on like this for many years to come,” says Bier, “because we don’t have the infrastructure to kick people out as quickly as they come in.”

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