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.