The Corner

Immigration

There Is a Real Problem at the Border

Central American migrants react as they wait to enter the U.S., asking for refuge and to be reunited with their children, after being separated from them by immigration authorities when crossing into the United States illegally last year, at the border crossing in Mexicali-Calexico, Mexico, March 2, 2019. (Cristian Torres/Reuters)

According to reporting from the New York Times, there is a new wave of asylum seekers from Central America crossing or attempting to cross the southern border of the United States. Last month, border-patrol officials detained or turned away more than 76,000 unauthorized immigrants, numbers resembling those seen at the border during the presidency of George W. Bush.

The Times report from Tuesday afternoon notes that “for the fourth time in five months, the number of migrant families crossing the southwest border has broken records.” The article suggests that these figures indicate the Trump administration’s policies intended to deter asylum seekers aren’t working.

“The system is well beyond capacity, and remains at the breaking point,” Kevin McAleenan, commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, said of the situation on Tuesday. The administration intends to institute comprehensive health screenings for all migrant children and open a new processing center in El Paso, Texas, in the hopes of dealing with the influx.

While in the past the majority of illegal migrants came to the U.S. from Mexico, more than 90 percent of those crossing the border now are coming from Guatemala, and the majority of entrants are families or unaccompanied minors. This is a striking shift from past years — when most attempted illegal entrants were single, Mexican men — and it reflects increasing violence and unrest in Central American countries such as Honduras and El Salvador, in addition to Guatemala.

As Charles Lehman noted at the Washington Free Beacon on Tuesday, the influx of immigrants this past month “is the highest monthly total at any point in at least the past five years, lending credence to President Donald Trump’s ongoing claim that America is experiencing a ‘crisis’ at its southwestern border.”

These figures might not legitimize the president’s national-emergency declaration, which he intends to use to reallocate funding to reinforce physical barriers on the southern border and build new portions of his promised border wall. But they certainly indicate a problem of some kind, and one that more sections of a wall and extra processing centers alone won’t fix.

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