The Morning Jolt

Immigration

The Border Crisis Isn’t Going Away

A family of migrants walk after crossing the Rio Bravo river to turn themselves into U.S Border Patrol agents to request asylum in El Paso, Texas, March 30, 2021. (Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

On the menu today: The media’s interest in the border crisis has waned in the past week, but the problem isn’t going away and may well be worsening; a New York Times columnist reluctantly concludes that the U.S. southern border with Mexico needs . . . a wall; more schools across the country open their doors to students again; and noticing that corporate presidents increasingly act like they’re running a college campus.

The Media Moves On, but the Border Crisis Continues

You can’t say that the national news media refused to cover the border crisis; they brought their cameras, the talking heads argued about whose fault it was, and the Biden administration took its lumps. But as you’ve probably noticed in our modern era, after a few days, the media move like a herd on to the next story or controversy, whether or not the first story or controversy gets resolved.

In the case of the border crisis, the coverage has waned, but the massive numbers of migrants, both adults and children, are still attempting to cross over each day. In the past week or so, the Georgia voting law, the scandals of Representative Matt Gaetz, and the 60 Minutes hit piece on Governor Ron DeSantis overtook the border in the news cycle. All of those are legitimate news stories, but it worked out well for the Biden administration that they fumbled this issue terribly, tried to gaslight people into believing nothing had changed, offered a series of unconvincing excuses, and then most of the public’s attention moved on to other topics.

Yes, the Biden administration has lousy poll numbers on this issue. But it’s not worried yet.

So what’s happened in the last few days, as the national media turned its attention away from the border?

When the new administration, deliberately or inadvertently, sent a signal that immigration laws would no longer be as strictly enforced — by announcing a moratorium on deportations, for example — it wasn’t just the good or sympathetic people who noticed. Bad people noticed it, too, and perceived it as a green light to come. The Biden administration would have you believe it does a terrific job of sorting out the good people from the bad ones, but it’s tough to measure the illegal entrants whom you don’t catch. And a massive wave of sympathetic prospective migrants, such as unaccompanied minors, can generate its own kind of crisis.

In January, U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountered more than 78,000 individuals attempting to cross the southwestern border, and 5,694 were unaccompanied minors. In February — a shorter month — that number jumped to more than 96,000, with about 9,200 unaccompanied minors. And last month, according to preliminary data, authorities caught more than 171,000 migrants at the border, — the highest monthly total in two decades — including about 19,000 unaccompanied migrant children.

You may recall that President Biden declared in his press conference last month, “It happens every single solitary year. There is a significant increase in the number of people coming to the border in the winter months of January, February, March.” Except we don’t blow way past the previous records and all-time highs every year, and we don’t see the numbers nearly double from month to month.

Yesterday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki offered this clear and illuminating answer about the rise in these figures:

Well, first let me say that there have been numbers that have been reported out there. CBP has not released their final numbers; we expect that to happen later this week. And for full context, there are numbers that, when they release them, will be out, like you cited — some version of what you cited. But those are reflecting of people coming, and they — we should also be reflecting — and I hope I’m encouraging people to do this — people who are turned away. Because again, single adults, based on your own reporting and everyone’s reporting, continue to be — the vast majority continue to be turned away at the border.

Single adults, perhaps, but not families. And overall, very few migrants get immediately turned away: “Although the Biden administration says its policy is to ‘expel’ families to Mexico under a pandemic health order, the most recent CBP data shows that only about 10 to 20 percent are being turned back. The rest are typically released into the United States with a notice to appear in court, even though Biden told reporters last week that the families ‘should all be going back.’”

In the New York Times, columnist Bret Stephens again risks expulsion by the internal woke rage mob by telling readers something they would rather not hear: “A well-built wall should still be a central part of an overall immigration fix. It’s an imperfect but functional deterrent against the most reckless forms of border crossing. It’s a barrier against sudden future surges of mass migration. It’s also a political bargaining chip to be traded for a path to citizenship in a comprehensive immigration-reform bill. And it’s a prophylactic against the next populist revolt, which is sure to overtake our politics if the Biden administration cannot competently control an elementary function of governance.”

Solitary Confinement Is Cruel and Psychologically Dangerous, You Say?

The president of the American Academy of Pediatrics writes in a letter to the New York Times:

Recent studies find that the use of solitary confinement remains common in juvenile detention facilities, with 47 percent of centers reporting locking a youth in a room for four hours or more within the past month. More than half of the children and teenagers held in solitary confinement are held for more than 24 hours.

The 2009 report “Juvenile Suicide in Confinement: A National Survey” examined 110 juvenile suicides between 1995 and 1999. It found that 62 percent of those who died by suicide had a history of room confinement, and 51 percent were on room confinement status at the time of their death.

That is a strong argument against the use, or at least the excessive use, of solitary confinement in juvenile detention centers. That also sounds like a strong argument in favor of minimizing the de facto solitary confinement of everyone else, including children, during a pandemic! By the way, the American Academy of Pediatrics isn’t being a hypocrite here; it’s been pushing for schools to figure out how to get kids in the classroom, safely, for months now.

The good news is that more and more schools are opening up and returning kids to the classroom, at least part-time.

The Return to Learn Tracker, developed by the American Enterprise Institute in partnership with the College Crisis Initiative of Davidson College, monitored over 8,000 public-school districts and found that as of March 22, 41 percent of all schools are back in-person full time, 52 percent are in hybrid — meaning some in-person, some remote — and just 7 percent are fully remote. (In my neck of the woods, in-person schooling is expanding from two days a week to four days a week starting April 20.) When the teachers and other school workers are vaccinated, there’s not really any good reason to keep the kids out any longer.

No, the kids are not vaccinated, and we will probably not get vaccinations for children until autumn at the earliest. But thankfully, COVID-19 presents an exceptionally low risk of serious health problems for children. As of April 1, nearly 3.47 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic. Between 0.1 percent and 2 percent — one-tenth of one percent to two percent of all child COVID-19 cases have resulted in hospitalization. Between zero and three one-hundredths of one percent of COVID-19 cases resulted in death; ten states have reported no child deaths at all.

ADDENDUM: Over at Powerline, Paul Mirengoff observes that the mentality of a corporate president is increasingly indistinguishable from that of a university president. I’m so old, I can remember when CEOs’ being described as “actual lawmakers and rule-shapers” or “the 4th branch of government” would be considered a bad thing.

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