Crisis at the Border
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador isn’t afraid to describe a situation as he sees it, and he sees the current situation at the U.S.-Mexico border as a crisis. According to President Obrador, since day one of Joe Biden’s presidency, illegal immigration attempts have skyrocketed, and the business of illegal immigration has changed completely.
According to the Mexican government, Biden’s policies seem to be incentivizing illegal immigration, as well as organized crime in Mexico. Promises of coronavirus vaccines and expanded protection for migrant children among other opportunities have led to an influx of attempts to cross into the states over the last few months.
A Reuters report showed that seizures of contraband at the border hit their highest point in 15 years last month – more than likely tied to Biden’s new immigration policies. Biden’s policies are weak and soft compared to the policies of the previous administration, which would detain immigrants and have them deported back, even if that was all the way to Central America. Biden removed these rigid rules shortly after taking office.
In tandem with the rule change, it seems like crime organizations especially the drug cartels have updated their tactics. They have begun using new technology to avoid detection and to keep their clients informed about immigration laws as they change. The smugglers also regularly use YouTube and Facebook to update each other about checkpoints and how to avoid immigration issues. Additionally, they have even begun using travel agencies as an additional cover for their illicit activities.
Our president met with Mexico’s president via a virtual conference on March 1. Who proceeded to warn Biden of what has been happening and will likely continue to happen under his adjusted rules. President Obrador mentioned that there is an increased optimism among immigrants that they will successfully reach the United States and shared with Biden that he has acquired a nickname amongst Mexican smugglers as “the migrant president.” Obrador also warned that the two countries "need to work together to regulate the flow, because this business can’t be tackled from one day to the next" and needs a long-term plan in place.
The “coyotes” and other smugglers are known to advise those who hope to gain access to the U.S. They suggest manipulative tactics, such as bringing children to ease the application process, or to tell agents that they are victims of extortion or death threats from gangs in hopes of appealing to the agents’ emotions. It is not strange for cartel members to offer advice since it is certainly worth their time – they charge upwards of $3,000 to attempt to bring a child across the border.
While most of the attempts to cross the Mexico-U.S. border are made by Central Americans hoping to escape crises at home, there are still plenty of others making their way to the border. Migrants from Africa and Asia also reportedly take the same trip through Mexico in hopes of reaching the United States.
Despite the great number of migrants flocking to the border, the Department of Homeland Security has yet to declare the issue a crisis and seems steadfast in refusing to do so. Even though Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, was willing to ask for volunteers to help Customs and Border Protection achieve their goals at the border, the DHS refuses to properly acknowledge the situation as it is. He instead refers to it as a “challenge”, as he continues to recruit unpaid help to cook meals, manage the property, make supply and medicine runs, manage housekeeping duties, and help in control rooms.
America is currently facing a border crisis that is being spearheaded by a president that does not see it as a crisis. An influx of immigrants could have negative effects in a multitude of areas and we can only hope President Biden comes to realize this soon.