“There’s no migrant surge”…“border looks identical to 2019 without repeat crossers”…“the media must be held accountable for shallow reporting”
Experts are pushing back on the breathless, context-free coverage and commentary of the so-called “Biden border crisis.” For those who follow this closely, It is not a crisis; Biden is not to blame; and the challenges extend well beyond the border. But for too many, clicks, eyeballs and sensationalism seem to be more important than contextualized facts and sober analysis.
It’s worth noting the origin story of the “Biden border crisis” narrative. It was generated by Stephen Miller and his former DHS cronies well before Biden took office. It has been fully embraced by Republicans and the right wing media ecosystem for months. But most of the mainstream media held off adopting Stephen Miller’s framing because they didn’t want to be driven by a GOP desperate to change the subject, nor did they want to call a bunch of unaccompanied minors fleeing for their lives “a crisis.”
Then the Washington Post ran their Sunday front page story, titled, ‘No end in sight’: Inside the Biden administration’s failure to contain the border surge. The Sunday shows piled on. The legitimized “Biden border crisis” narrative has now been accepted uncritically by many mainstream reporters and producers.
Here are a few examples of experts challenging this runaway narrative:
- There’s no migrant ‘surge’ at the U.S. southern border. Here’s the data. Washington Post “Monkey Cage:” University of California San Diego professors and PhD students Tom K. Wong, Gabriel De Roche and Jesus Rojas Venzor write, “…the current increase in apprehensions fits a predictable pattern of seasonal changes in undocumented immigration combined with a backlog of demand because of 2020’s coronavirus border closure … So have Biden administration policies caused a crisis at the southern border? Evidence suggests not. The Trump administration oversaw a record in apprehensions in fiscal year 2019, before the pandemic shut the border. This year looks like the usual seasonal increase plus migrants who would have come last year, but could not. Focusing on month-to-month differences in apprehensions is misleading; given seasonal patterns, each month should be considered in relation to the same month in previous years. Knowing those patterns, policymakers may be better able to plan, prepare and to manage the border.”
- David Bier of the Cato Institute: In his analysis, titled, Border Looks Identical to 2019 Without Repeat Crossers, Bier writes, “The reason that arrests have reached such a high level is that since March, the vast majority of crossers are immediately expelled to Mexico under authority in Title 42 of the U.S. code. Once sent back to Mexico, the expelled can promptly recross. Without these repeat crossers, the first few months of fiscal year 2021 would look nearly identical to fiscal year 2019 before the pandemic.”
- Columnist Marcela Garcia of the Boston Globe, Border ‘crisis’ misses the big picture: She writes, “What’s happening at the US-Mexico border is more accurately called a continuum. It doesn’t have a great ring to it, but it represents a reality that brings desperate people to do almost anything to flee their countries. The border as political fodder — and the simplistic approach to its coverage — ignores complex circumstances on the ground in places like Guatemala, Honduras, and Haiti … There needs to be more deep, insightful reporting about what makes people migrate — with a focus on the continuum of despair. The decision to leave one’s homeland is complex and involves many factors — lack of economic opportunity combined with political instability and targeted violence. It’s never impulsive. People don’t leave their countries or their families spontaneously — or just because Biden is president … The media must be held accountable for shallow reporting.”
- Greg Sargent of the Washington Post, Getting real about the Democratic Party’s ‘immigration problem’: “First, apprehensions at the border steadily rose throughout the last nine months of Trump. Second, today’s numbers are inflated by single adults making repeated efforts to cross after Title 42 expulsions. Families and unaccompanied children make up a small percentage of total apprehensions. Third, there was a huge spike in 2019, during Trump’s draconian regime, which underscores again the many fluctuating reasons for these migrations. Most important, even if one of these many reasons is that people recognize that under Biden they will be able to exercise their legal right to apply for asylum without facing violence and human rights violations, isn’t that better than the alternative?”
- Human Rights First blog post, That Crisis at the Border? Unethical Reporting: Alexandra Yellin writes, “This weekend, it was unsurprising to find yet another story from a mainstream media outlet – this time, the Washington Post – declaring a “crisis” at our southern border. For weeks, otherwise reputable outlets like The New York Times and Axios have appeared to be in a disturbing competition to be the first to decisively demonstrate that the Biden administration’s rollback of cruel and illegal Trump-era immigration policies is a disaster of mammoth proportions…[S]ome immigration reporters continue to operate under (at least) two deluded assumptions: First, migration is bad; and second, undoing the inhumane policies designed by former President Trump and Stephen Miller to inflict the greatest suffering possible on those seeking U.S. protection will drive people en masse to our shores…The U.S. has long been a beacon of hope, safety, and freedom for people all around the world…the prospect that people making the decision to flee for their lives are basing that decision on changes in U.S. immigration policy is both woefully self-centered and laughably wrong-headed.”