This talking point about a “95% drop in border migrant encounters from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela” is problematic.
Why? Let’s examine encounters along the migration route, from north to south.
Here’s where the 95% comes from.
US Border Patrol’s apprehensions of these 4 countries’ migrants really did drop steeply from December—after Mexico agreed to accept Title 42 expulsions of these nationalities, and once a “humanitarian parole” option opened up for some of them.
But there’s no 95% drop anywhere else along the migration route, where people fleeing those countries have become stranded.
Since December, Mexico’s encounters with these 4 countries’ migrants are only down 42%.
Since December, Honduras’s encounters with Cuban, Haitian, and Venezuelan migrants are up 10%.
(Nicaraguan citizens don’t need passports to be in Honduras, and thus don’t end up in Honduras’s count of “irregular” or “undocumented” migrants.)
Since December, in Panama’s Darién Gap, migration from Cuba, Haiti, and Venezuela is up 250% (though down 57% from a high in October, before Mexico started accepting expulsions of Venezuelan migrants).
The upshot: migration from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, Venezuela may be down sharply at the US-Mexico border, due to aggressive Title 42 expulsions.
But the expulsions have absolutely not deterred these nations’ citizens from migrating. They’re still fleeing—but they’re stranded.
Biden administration officials might view this chart as evidence of “policy success.”
Combining Title 42 expulsions, “CBP One” appointments, and humanitarian parole brought a 95% decrease in Border Patrol’s encounters with Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan, and Venezuelan migrants since December, and a 50% increase in the much smaller number of those able to come to ports of entry.
But a lot of the people who were in those tall green columns—many of whom may have valid asylum claims—remain in Mexican border cities. Stranded. More are coming, but since they’re not crossing the border from Mexico, this chart doesn’t show them.
Forty of these stranded people died in a fire a month ago in Ciudad Juárez. Now, in the past couple of days, 2,000 living in miserable tents in Matamoros have come under attack. The Associated Press reports:
About two dozen makeshift tents were set ablaze and destroyed at a migrant camp across the border from Texas this week, witnesses said Friday, a sign of the extreme risk that comes with being stuck in Mexico as the Biden administration increasingly relies on that country to host people fleeing poverty and violence.
The fires were set Wednesday and Thursday at the sprawling camp of about 2,000 people, most of them from Venezuela, Haiti and Mexico, in Matamoros, a city near Brownsville, Texas. An advocate for migrants said they had been doused with gasoline.
The entire Western Hemisphere is in a moment of mass migration, as the Migration Policy Institute reminded us in a feature published last week. “The number of migrants living in the region nearly doubled from 8.3 million in 2010 to 16.3 million in 2022… Notably, much of the migration has been between countries within the region,” not to the United States.
A region-wide crisis demands that the Biden administration further expand its ability to process and fairly adjudicate this increased number of protection claims. At a time of historically low unemployment, it also requires creating more legal pathways to migration.
Right now, that can mean adjusting policies that are already in place.
The number of “CBP One” appointments for asylum applicants at U.S.-Mexico border ports of entry, which reached 764 per day in March, needs to increase substantially to keep up with the demand in Mexican border cities, where each day’s allotment of appointments runs out in minutes.
The administration’s “humanitarian parole” program must loosen its passport and U.S.-based sponsor requirements, which exclude people lacking connections, who are often the most vulnerable.
Without changes like these, Mexican border cities are going to continue filling up. We’ll see more tragedies, more attacks, more bridge closures as large groups of people gather after being misled by misinformation.
The people in this chart’s tall green columns aren’t going anywhere. Most have nowhere else to go. The pressure is going to keep building.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released data this evening about its “encounters” (regular apprehensions and Title 42 expulsions) with undocumented migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border during March. Here are a few graphics illustrating key trends.
It’s been rare over the past 10 years for Colombia’s Invamer poll to show a president with a higher approval than disapproval rating. One such moment, the first months of Gustavo Petro’s presidency, has ended for now.
Colombia’s Blu Radio has the entire 112-page PDF of the poll’s results, with long time series. Also interesting:
Colombia’s National Police remain underwater.
The Prosecutor-General’s office continues to enjoy little trust under Francisco Barbosa’s leadership.
Support for granting TPS to Venezuelan refugees remains low, but is higher than ever.
A 19-point margin of support for the ELN peace talks—but it was a 41-point margin in August.
Mexico’s refugee agency (COMAR) received nearly 13,000 requests for asylum in January, a pace that, if sustained for the entire year, would bring a record 154,000 asylum applications in Mexico’s system in 2023.
The number-one nationality of asylum applicants in January was Haiti, the nation that was also number one in 2021. Honduras was COMAR’s number-one asylum-seeking nationality in 2022 and prior years.
Here’s the table with this chart’s underlying data. Note that Afghanistan, for the first time, made the “top ten” in January with 430 asylum requests. Afghanistan was the number-nine nationality of migrants passing through Panama’s Darién Gap region in January (291 migrants reported by Panamanian authorities).
Look at the expulsion rates here (blue) and guess which 5 countries’ migrants Mexico allows US authorities to expel back across the land border, using Title 42 to deny them even a chance to seek asylum. What a gross disparity.
It’s so perplexing that people are convinced that Title 42 slowed migration, and that its lifting will be a major change.
Here’s what happened to single-adult migrant encounters at the US-Mexico border after Title 42 went into effect. Not a deterrent, to say the least.
Title 42 did not similarly increase child and family migration over what came before. But it didn’t reduce it, either.
The 4 countries whose citizens could be expelled across the land border into Mexico? Title 42 slowed growth in their migration, though it remained high. But citizens of all other countries surpassed them since last summer.
Title 42 did NOT reduce US-bound migration of non-Mexicans through Mexico, which has hit all-time record levels.
Northbound migration through Panama’s treacherous Darién Gap was rare before Title 42, which did nothing to deter it.
By increasing incentives not to turn themselves in to US authorities, Title 42 probably contributed to today’s horrific amount of migrant deaths on US soil along the border.
Title 42 had no impact on drugs crossing the border. Fentanyl, for instance, is almost entirely seized at ports of entry (blue) and checkpoints (brown), it appears in most cases by US citizens.
If Title 42 ends, a short-term increase is likely. Asylum seekers from 5 countries subject to land-border expulsions into Mexico will finally have a chance to seek protection, after being bottled up for 33 months.
But don’t believe for a moment that Title 42 ever reduced migration.
Panama just posted November records of migration through the dangerous Darién Gap jungles that straddle its border with Colombia. The result is unsurprising. They show that denying protection to people, even as it violates international human rights standards, will keep them from trying to come, at least in the short term.
Migration through the Darién plummeted 72 percent from October to November. This was led by a 98 percent drop in migration from Venezuela.
That fewer people risked crossing through the Darién Gap should be good news: hundreds each year die, are attacked, and suffer sexual violence along this ungoverned 60-mile walk. But the reason for the decline is not a happy one.
On October 12, the U.S. and Mexican governments announced that any Venezuelan citizens encountered at the U.S.-Mexico border would be swiftly expelled back into Mexico, without even affording them the chance to seek asylum. That denial of asylum is usually illegal, but the U.S. government invoked the Title 42 pandemic authority, in place since March 2020. On November 15, a U.S. federal judge struck down Title 42, so the expulsions should stop by December 21.
For now, though, the Title 42 expansion forced a pause in U.S.-bound migration through the Darién Gap. For unclear reasons, November also saw declines in migration of citizens from Peru (-92%), Colombia (-87%), Cameroon (-44%), Afghanistan (-31%), the Dominican Republic (-30%), and Ecuador (-25%). Other countries increased, though: Nigeria (+56%), China (+38%), Haiti (+24%), India (+20), and Bangladesh (+18%).
Despite the November decline, 2022 is already the busiest year for migration in the history of the Darién Gap, which until recently was viewed as nearly impenetrable.