Washington, DC – Judging from predictions from this time last week, the actual post-Title 42 display of a relatively calm and orderly process at our southern border has confounded predictions and disappointed right wing observers rooting for chaos.
It’s still early in the post-Title 42 world and factors ranging from pending litigation to smugglers’ adaptations could certainly change what we see on the ground. Nonetheless, these early returns do drive home several key points and durable observations:
- The orderliness on display makes the case for why legal channels that provide alternative pathways are so essential: As a national AP wire story “US-Mexico border sees orderly crossings as new migration rules take effect,” captures the point: “new asylum rules and legal pathways meant to discourage illegal crossings” are playing a role in the relative calm. The reality is that immigrants and asylum seekers want a line to get into and want to follow the law but the byzantine and shifting set of policies affecting them makes that a challenge. Offering a balanced approach and ensuring the continued operational success of efforts to alleviate border pressures – including legal pathways, regional refugee processing centers, and expanded family reunification efforts – are important.
- Pervasive misinformation stoked by right wing and Republicans empowered smugglers, creating more chaos at the border: Disinformation and misinformation shared by smugglers, distributed by social media, and stoked by relentless Republican and right wing media lies and shouts of “open borders” all fuel migration patterns. A deeply reported Washington Post piece highlights the breadth of this mis/disinformation among many migrants and asylum seekers.
- We need legislative modernization of entire immigration system – and Republicans keep obstructing and blocking such a solution: The cross-pressures and policy approaches on display and affecting the border all must be viewed in the context of the constraints inherent to the broken immigration system that continues to plague us and that Congress – and congressional Republicans in particular – is unable and unwilling to modernize. A timely New York Times story puts the rightful onus on Congress and its continued gridlock, tracing a timeline of obstruction and legislative near-misses in recent decades, noting: “The legacy of that inaction is seen in factories and farms, where undocumented migrants work grueling jobs for low wages; in the skyrocketing backlog of asylum cases that have yet to appear before an immigration judge; in the enrichment of cartels trafficking migrants and drugs to the U.S.-Mexico border; and in the uncertainty at the border after the expiration this week of pandemic-era restrictions on entry.”
- We can do this – America can manage this moment and beyond: The early displays of order and calm at the border also remind us that our country knows how to meet this moment. As Cecilia Muñoz, co-founder of Welcome.US and former White House Domestic Policy Council Director told CBS Sunday Morning: “It’s not about politics. It’s not about ideology. It’s about helping people in need at a time of crisis. It’s really what we do when we’re at our best in this country.”
According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
“The first days after the lifting of Title 42 have driven home a few realities, including reminders that Title 42 and similar deterrence-only policies may create more chaos than order. Instead, we need a balanced approach that recognizes that legal pathways and alternatives to the trek to the border are essential ingredients of disempowering smugglers and overcoming misinformation.
We also need Congress and the Republican Party to come to the table on real bipartisan solutions instead of political misinformation and harsh policies that advance more chaos and disorder. Unless and until Republicans are willing to work on a legislative modernization or Democrats can find a workaround to Republicans’ obstruction, our vision of an immigration system that works for today’s America will remain hamstrung.
Everything that was broken and dysfunctional about our immigration system before Title 42 is still broken and dysfunctional. Our legal pathways to enter the country with a visa are still insufficient, our refugee program is still too small and our asylum system, which was not designed for the volume of people seeking safety, given the state of the visa and refugee systems, remains under resourced.”