Contrary to gleeful apocalyptic predictions by the right wing about the end of Title 42, there has been a drop in the number of encounters at the southern border. There are several related storylines important to understand, even as national media focus has largely moved elsewhere:
- Point 1: Despite the post-Title 42 reality, Republicans and right wing media are continuing their pre-baked and ugly political attacks at odds with evidence on the ground.
- Point 2: Republicans are actively trying to end policies that seek to bring order and alleviate border pressures.
- Point 3: Republican obstruction to broader immigration reforms and legal immigration dampens our economic potential.
Despite the post-Title 42 reality, Republicans and right wing media are continuing their pre-baked and ugly political attacks at odds with evidence on the ground
Republicans had clearly planned, and hoped, for a different and more chaotic post-Title 42 landscape to use as a cudgel for their relentless political attacks on immigration and the border. Despite the on-the-ground reality, the GOP and right wing media are proceeding as if their apocalyptic predictions had come true:
- From renewed sham impeachment charges against DHS Secretary Mayorkas to right wing attempts to inject anti-immigrant measures into debt ceiling negotiations to continued examples from House GOP hearings, it’s clear Republicans haven’t deviated from their pre-baked plans despite the reality on the ground. It continues a political attack that GOP and right wing leaders started even before Biden was in office, when they blamed Biden’s immigration policies for a rise in border encounters occurring during the Trump presidency.
- Recent analysis from Media Matters for America, “Fox News’ white nationalism-infused rhetoric about the end of Title 42 is utterly detached from reality,” found: “Some at Fox have responded to their failed predictions by ignoring the unfavorable numbers and sticking to their script. ‘Everybody knows that Democrats support liberal immigration policies and they like open borders because they want votes, and their donors want cheap labor,’ Fox prime time host Laura Ingraham said a few days after Title 42’s expiration. ‘The only force capable of closing the floodgates is an angry and frankly energized American electorate.’ Host Sean Hannity likewise maintained after Title 42’s expiration that ‘the borders are wide open’ and that President Joe Biden is ‘aiding and abetting lawbreaking.’” And as America’s Voice has repeatedly documented, elected Republicans also continue to echo these deadly white nationalist conspiracies.
- As America’s Voice has highlighted, Fox News and the GOP are the leading purveyors of false “open borders” disinformation – spending the equivalent of millions of dollars to amplify the false message. The Dallas Morning News reported on a fresh example from mid-April involving migrants receiving false information from Breitbart.
Republicans are actively trying to end policies that seek to bring order and alleviate border pressures
There has been a significant drop in the number of border encounters since the end of Title 42. While there are several factors at play, and conditions and numbers will likely evolve, the importance of alternative legal pathways that help alleviate border pressures and a dangerous trek to the U.S. southern border is one major factor behind the relative calm. From the expansion of parole programs and family reunification efforts to refugee processing centers in the region, there are a number of Biden administration policies that show promise. Yet Republicans – through the courts and in Congress – are seeking to block or dismantle these approaches that are meant to bring order.
- In the courts, the state of Texas and newly impeached Attorney General Ken Paxton is again leading the charge against the Biden administration, including on a newest filing seeking to eviscerate alternative legal pathways that are showing early successes.
- Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress are continuing to block broader legislative modernizations, push for extreme enforcement-only legislation, and oppose legal pathways. Their justification, as always, is supposed “border chaos” that their obstruction helps cement and that is independent of on-the-ground realities.
- As the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent noted, “The idea that our border is under perpetual siege isn’t intended as an empirical declaration about a concrete challenge facing the country. Rather, it’s a kind of animating myth, one manufactured to mobilize political energy. In this, it’s essential to MAGA’s identity.”
- As Dara Lind of the American Immigration Council points out in a recent New York Times op-ed, “The U.S. Keeps Telling People to Come the ‘Right Way.’ They’re Listening,” if we invested more in processing people at ports of entry, we could actually cut down on the need for massive resources to stop people between ports of entry. But since the GOP opposes legal processing, the focus remains on enforcement rather than processing.
Republican obstruction to broader immigration reforms and legal immigration dampens our economic potential.
While most of the immigration policy focus is on the southern border, there is an urgent need for pro-immigrant policies to bolster our economy now and in the future – including new legal immigration pathways and legalizing the long-settled undocumented population. Once again, Republicans are blocking the solutions and larger overhaul we need, while reminding us of the economic costs and consequences of GOP nativism in Florida:
- As Ron Brownstein writes in a must-read CNN column, “it remains a paradox that the nation is straining to keep out migrants looking to work even as employers say the shortage of workers is preventing them from filling millions of jobs. That worker shortfall has also emerged as a key factor driving persistent inflation and higher interest rates.”
- In Bloomberg Opinion, columnist and professor Amanda Little writes, “Want Lower Food Prices? Ease the Crackdown on Immigration,” noting: “Rather than making life even harder for the undocumented workers who play a critical role in our food economy, our lawmakers should be guaranteeing their safety. They should make it easier for farm laborers and their advocates to stave off human rights abuses while ensuring the security of our food supply. The upshot is this: Our definition of ‘sustainable agriculture’ should include fair and reasonable immigration laws that support a more secure food supply for our future.”
- Meanwhile, we are seeing a real-time case study in the costs and consequences of Republicans’ vision in Florida, where the state passed harsh anti-immigrant legislation driven by Ron DeSantis primary concerns and despite the self-inflicted economic harm to the state. Even in advance of the laws going into full effect, the state is seeing worker shortfalls and industry concerns in key sectors such as agriculture and construction. As CBS Miami captured in a recent headline, “On new Fla. immigration law, S. Florida farmer warns, ‘Get ready to pay more at grocery store.”
Our immigration system is not working and it is hurting everyone that has a stake in it: from long settled undocumented workers, to new asylum seekers, to farmers, growers and cities desperate for labor. What will it take for the GOP to abandon their strategy of using this issue as red meat for the MAGA base? When will it be enough?