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The new wave at the border


The influx of migrants congregating at the US-Mexico border underscores a point that Democratic Party politicians often try to downplay: US border policy has a significant effect on the number of people who attempt to enter the country illegally.

The current surge is largely a reaction to the impending end of Title 42, a policy enacted during the Covid pandemic that allows authorities to quickly deport many migrants who enter the country without permission, rather than letting them stay. while the courts consider their cases. Title 42 expires Thursday, as part of the end of the official Covid health emergency.

In recent weeks, word has spread in Latin America that entering the United States is about to get easier. Smugglers have told would-be migrants that the coming period would be a good time to attempt a border crossing, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said last week. US officials estimate that the number of illegal crossings per day, which recently hovered around 7,500, could soon exceed 12,000, according to my colleague Eileen Sullivan.

“It’s a real crisis,” Father Rafael Garcia of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in downtown El Paso told The Times.

When Democrats and progressive activists talk about undocumented immigration, they tend to emphasize forces in other countries — like wars and political oppression — that are beyond the control of the U.S. government. And these external issues influence migratory flows. The collapse of the Venezuelan economy is a recent example. Experts call these forces “push factors” because they push people away from their home country.

But the “pull factors” in the United States also matter. The strength of the economy is one of them. The rigor of border security is another.

When the United States makes it difficult for people to enter the country illegally, fewer people make the trip north to try. When the United States sends signals that people will be able to cross the border even without permission and potentially stay here for years, more people try to do so.

The pattern is clear. Donald Trump has been the most anti-immigration president in decades, promising to build a border wall and degrading immigrants with racist language. Joe Biden ran for president in 2020 promising a more welcoming approach – and after winning the election, the number of people trying to enter the country without permission increased:

“There are feedback loops,” Julia Gelatt, a sociologist at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, told me.

Like so many other political topics today, immigration has become very polarized. As a result, the complexities and trade-offs of the issue are sometimes obscured.

Many Republicans denigrate immigrants. In truth, as the research of economists Ran Abramitzky and Leah Boustan has shown, immigrant families have continued to thrive in recent decades. The children and grandchildren of immigrants moved up the economic ladder at surprisingly similar rates to those of the 1800s and early 1900s.

Democrats haven’t engaged in anything as heinous as the white nationalist conspiracy theories that are common on Fox News. But Democrats have sometimes brushed aside the tough questions of immigration policy.

A relatively lax approach to border security has drawbacks. Early in Biden’s presidency, thousands of people in Latin America left their homes and headed north, often taking enormous risks. Some arrived in the United States and gave themselves a chance for a better future. Others have languished in overcrowded and dangerous conditions in northern Mexico – a sign that a porous border creates its own humanitarian problems.

The migration surge of recent years has also caused problems in the United States. Social services and shelters in cities in Texas and Arizona have been overwhelmed, the mayors said. Even some cities far from the border, such as Chicago and New York, have struggled to cope with the influx. “The president and the White House failed in New York on this issue,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, said last month. “Why are you doing this in New York?”

In response, the Biden administration changed its approach. In early January, Biden announced a tougher policy aimed at keeping migrants away from Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti and Nicaragua who didn’t have a good claim of political oppression. The policy also provided new opportunities to come to the United States legally.

Immigration advocates and some Democrats called the plan cruel, saying it would deny asylum to deserving refugees. Yet experts say it is clear that many migrants from these countries are not political refugees. They want to come to the United States because it offers better job opportunities.

For the migrants themselves, this calculation is understandable. But no rich country allows unrestricted immigration. If the United States allowed mass immigration for economic reasons, millions more people would likely try to enter the country.

Biden’s crackdown has begun to have the desired effect. The number of illegal crossings has fallen sharply in recent months (which you can see in the last bars of the graph above). Now, however, the end of Title 42 has created a challenge. “A lot of people will see this as their chance,” Gelatt said, “or the smugglers will use it to lead people across the border.”

To reduce the influx, Biden sent 1,500 troops to the border. The troops are there to manage the chaos – and to send a message: the United States does not have an open border, and most people who try to enter the country illegally will not succeed.

NBA playoffs: The Philadelphia 76ers tied their streak last night, beating the Boston Celtics, 116-115. And the Phoenix Suns are now tied with the Denver Nuggets in their series.

Struck : But all eyes were on Phoenix owner Mat Ishbia, who had an argument on the pitch with Nikola Jokic.

Red Bull Battle: Max Verstappen won the Miami Grand Prix.

Leaves in difficulty: After winning their first playoff series in nearly two decades, the Toronto Maple Leafs find themselves in another dire situation, down 3-0 to the Florida Panthers.

Boxed wines have a bad reputation with producers and customers, but they make ecological sense, writes Times critic Eric Asimov. “The carbon footprint is about one-tenth of the emissions for producing four single-use bottles, not even considering weight and transportation,” said Melissa Monti Saunders, managing director of a wine ‌importer and ‌distributor. “‌No way around it, b‌oxes are much better for the planet.”

Yesterday’s Spelling Bee pangrams were kindly And volleyball. Here is today’s puzzle and the Bee Buddy, which helps you find the remaining words.

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