Look what happened to removals of Cubans and Venezuelans since Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant administration took office in 2017. Note that this doesn’t count Venezuelans whom the administration, we’ve now learned, has been stealthily sending back to Caracas via third countries.
Recall that despite this, fuzzy initial data show Trump beating Joe Biden among Cuban-American and Venezuelan-American early voters in Miami-Dade, Florida, where much of this community lives.
Why? Because in a dirty social-media-heavy campaign reminiscent of Colombia’s 2016 peace plebiscite, the Trump campaign and its surrogates have successfully implanted the idea that Joe Biden is a communist who would support the regimes that they fled. It’s amazing that they’ve gotten away with this while spiking deportations back to those same regimes.
Syracuse University’s TRAC Immigration project, which obtains and presents official data, just posted information about asylum decisions in U.S. immigration courts in 2020. They found that the courts granted asylum or other relief in only 28.4 percent of cases during the 2020 fiscal year, down from 45.4 percent in 2016, the last year of the Obama administration.
Also remarkable, when you dig into their database, is the disparity among immigration courts. Though judges are following the same laws and guidelines, they’re many, many times more willing to grant asylum in New York or San Francisco than they are in Houston or Atlanta. Nobody has a great explanation for why that is.
Find this chart, and a few dozen other border and migration data visualizations, at bit.ly/wola_border, a continually updated PDF document.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection did its monthly data dump yesterday, reporting on how many people the agency, which includes Border Patrol, apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border last month. As the WashingtonPostnoted, the most notable trend was a 40% increase, over May, in the number of undocumented migrants that Border Patrol encountered—even as the border is mostly shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A year ago, the big story at the border was children and families from Central America seeking asylum. The Trump administration has illegally ended asylum at the border for nearly everyone, so numbers of kids and parents have dropped sharply.
Instead, graphing the data out shows that all of the increase is in single adults, mainly from Mexico. Adults are blue in the charts below.
Keep in mind that adults are less likely to be seeking asylum. This means they’re probably trying to avoid being apprehended by Border Patrol. That in turn means many are probably migrating through some of the remotest, most treacherous parts of the border—at the very height of summer, when the desert heat is at its worst. As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, there may be a spike in migrant deaths on U.S. soil, from dehydration and exposure, as a result of the COVID-19 border crackdown. Already, official Border Patrol Twitter feeds are full of accounts of rescues.
These graphics, and a few dozen others, are always available as a big PDF file at http://bit.ly/wola_border. Also of interest there are the ones showing a pretty big June jump in drug seizures, again “despite the pandemic.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection released data on migrant apprehensions and drug seizures during April, the first month during which the U.S.-Mexico border spent entirely under near-closure quarantine.
As expected, the number of undocumented migrants apprehended at the border declined, as did seizures of nearly all drugs. However, April was not the month of least migration in recent memory, as I’d expected. Despite a lockdown of the border and immediate, legally dubious “expulsions” of most border-crossers, the 15,862 people apprehended by Border Patrol last month was still a higher monthly total than February through April of 2017, when migration plummeted following Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Here’s what monthly drug seizures at the border look like. Though they are down, you don’t see a sharp break in March and April. It may be that traffickers are still trying to cross with the same amount of product as always, despite the stricter border measures. Or it may be that CBP, with a lot less traffic to inspect, is seizing a larger percentage of a smaller overall quantity of smuggled drugs. No idea.
I’ve got a bunch more infographics to update, but as you can see from all the other things I’m putting on this site this evening, it’s been a long and full day, even my late-afternoon coffee is wearing off, and I’m likely to make mistakes. So more tomorrow.
When I get anxious about something, I may make a spreadsheet about it to try to understand it better. (Doesn’t everyone?) So I made these using the New York Timescase data at Github, and the COVID Tracking Project Google Docs.
In the end, I don’t know what this all means—this is far from my specialty. But what I think it means is:
Northeastern states still have some of the fastest growth in coronavirus cases, but this may also be a measure of more aggressive testing. As a percentage of population, New York has done five times more testing than Texas.
The South is showing up a lot more, more than when I ran these numbers last week.
Some states (California, Minnesota) have low testing, but also may genuinely have slow growth because they’ve been strict about social distancing. Others (Texas, Georgia, Iowa) have low testing, and may be missing a lot of what’s happening.
Virginia and Alabama are among states with the highest percentage growth in cases despite being in the bottom 15 for testing. That seems alarming.
It’s all here in the northeast and mid-Atlantic, or at least this is where more people are able to take tests that turn out positive. Here are the states that rank in the top 20 on at least two of the three categories below.
At the bottom of each are shortened links to the documents from which we drew the information. The current collection of infographics covers the demobilized FARC population, U.S. aid, registered victims, U.S. cocaine prices, coca cultivation and eradication, cocaine seizures, homicides, kidnappings, and forced displacement.
We learned in Monday evening’s Washington Post that our president plans to take another $7.2 billion out of the Defense Department’s budget and put it into the border wall that he couldn’t convince Congress to pay for. If he gets his way, more than three out of every four dollars in border-wall money will have gone without congressional approval.
This sort of rule by decree is what we’ve seen in Latin America when democracies start giving way to dictatorship.
A new commentary at WOLA’s website breaks down what’s happening: the amounts involved, the convoluted way Trump is wresting the money from defense and avoiding Congress’s constitutional checks, and the situation in the courts, where our only hope lies.