New Wave of Asylum-Seekers at US Southern Border as Title 42 Expires

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Yves here. Tonight we see mainstream media confirming a favored conservative hobbyhorse, that of uncontrolled immigration at the US-Mexico border. For instance, the lead story at BBC is US border crisis: El Paso braces for worst as Title 42 deadline looms. NBC chimes in with Biden admin to allow for the release of some migrants into the U.S. with no way to track them.

For those new to this story, let us hand the mike to CNN, from a story on Tuesday:

In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a public health order that officials said aimed to stop the spread of Covid-19. The order allowed authorities to swiftly expel migrants at US land borders. The policy is widely known as Title 42, for the portion of US code that allowed the CDC director to issue it.

Migrants encountered under Title 42 have been either returned to their home countries or sent back into Mexico. Under the policy, authorities have expelled migrants at the US-Mexico border more than 2.8 million times since the policy began, according to US Customs and Border Protection data.

he policy, which officials have relied on to manage a spiraling situation at the border, is set to end at 11:59 p.m. ET on Thursday….

Officials predict that lifting Title 42 is likely to spur a significant increase in the number of migrants trying to cross into the US.

One reason for the expected spike: Many migrants who were sent back to Mexico under the policy are desperate and losing patience.

Note the framing: the “losing patience” trope presupposes these migrants have a right to live here. The reality is most countries have restricted long-stay visas. Even though the US takes in asylum seekers, the standard is their reason why they claim they are in jeopardy at home has to be substantiated. Even though some of these immigrants no doubt are legitimate asylum seekers, it’s a reasonable guess that a significant majority are economic migrants, particularly given the over-representation of single young men.

The BBC adds detail on immediate conditions:

A record number of migrants – more than 10,000 – were recently apprehended at the US-Mexico border in a 24-hour period, fuelling fears over what comes next when a controversial immigration policy expires this week.

Nowhere are the realities of what some have termed a border “crisis” more evident than in the Texas city of El Paso.

Here, migrants – many of them confused about the impending rule changes – have been left sleeping rough in makeshift campsites on city streets over the last several days.

Several thousand were camped out earlier this week around a single church in the city centre….

Additionally, about 24,000 law officers have been stationed along the length of the 2,000 mile (3,218km) border, along with thousands of National Guard troops and active-duty military personnel sent to help Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The new measures come amid an increased burden on CBP. In the El Paso sector alone, officials say that officers have recorded 265,000 migrant “encounters” since the current fiscal year began on 1 October – an 134% increase from the prior year. Currently, officers in the area are averaging about 1,700 migrant detentions daily.

More than 27,000 migrants were in US custody at one time earlier this week, well above CBP’s existing capacity to house them.

In El Paso, authorities have been left to contend both with “unprocessed” migrants who crossed illegally, as well as those who have been released from detention to await a court date with an immigration judge. Some migrants in El Paso have told the BBC that they will have to wait years before they appear in court.

The situation sounds chaotic. The BBC discussed some new Administration measures designed to contain this mess, but NBC’s account undercuts the notion that they will do all that much:

After more than 11,000 migrants were caught crossing the southern border on Tuesday, the Biden administration is now preparing a memo that will direct Customs and Border Protection to begin releasing migrants into the U.S. without court dates or the ability to track them, according to three sources familiar with the plans.

The Biden administration began releasing migrants without court dates to alleviate overcrowding in March 2021, but had previously enrolled those migrants in a program known as Alternatives to Detention, which required them to check in on a mobile app until they were eventually given a court date. The new policy would release them on “parole” with a notice to report to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office but without enrolling them in the program.

The more than 11,000 border apprehensions in a single day is a record and surpasses expectations of 10,000 per day predicted by Department of Homeland Security officials on what could come when Covid restrictions lift late Thursday.

“We’re already breaking and we haven’t hit the starting line,” one DHS official told NBC News, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the person isn’t authorized to talk to the media.

This segment on Redacted (an anti-war show) has an interview with Michael Yon, a “Combat Correspondent” (starting at 39:45) who among other things reports on discussions he had had with Border Patrol employees and Nick Sortor, an independent journalist who has been in Brownsville (at 49:35). A problem is these accounts tend to mix useful close to the ground information with fever-swamp interpretations. It’s hard to know how to correct for this, since the mainstream media has been under-reporting and in a situation like this, good verifiable facts are hard to come by regardless. So take this with a hefty dose of salt”

The conservative/Republican talking point has been to hammer on the failure of Democratic Administrations to “secure” the border with Mexico. Republicans depict increased immigration as a threat, since the assumption is that grateful immigrants will vote Democrat. Note that Democrats likely see things the same way but may not factor in potential unhappiness among Hispanics who went to the effort to enter legally or become citizens as well as among hourly workers generally for increased pressure on pay due to new migrants being (typically correctly) presumed to be willing to accept rock-bottom pay and poor work conditions.

They also harp on extra costs to communities, such as health care and education, that are allegedly not adequately paid by income generation by these migrants.

However, both parties are largely on board with the immigration-to-suppress-wages scheme. Many businesses happily employ undocumented workers; some try to present them as citizens, as confirmed by Treasury identifying multiple uses of Social Security numbers. Member of the professional-managerial class who profess humanitarian concerns often know or even are themselves employers of nannies and yardmen whose pay is suppressed by the number of immigrants competing for the same work. As a conservative contact argued, if the US cracked down on illegal immigrants, berries, which are hand-picked, would be more like $10 a pint. He says he’s willing to pay that and have them less often, but his diet-obsessed peers (berries confer many health benefits) recoil at the idea.

I will confess to not being at all on board with the open/easy borders program. We have far too much stress and distress among lower income cohorts, particularly homelessness, which is bad for them and others (the look of lawlessness, disease spread). The reason we have so much homelessness is primarily housing costs. Poor people used to be able to rent cheap room in single room occupancy hotels or boarding houses. Many homeless are employed (and you’d also expect homelessness over time to reduce employability, as in difficulty in bathing on a daily basis, risk of having your work clothes stolen, and again, greater risk of getting sick). We should not be anywhere this generous to immigrants when we are doing a piss poor job of helping our own economically disadvantaged.

The article below highlights the housing problem in New York: the city is casting about to find a place to put them. But don’t expect anyone to back building more affordable housing.

By Gwynne Hogan and Gabriel Poblet. Originally published at THE CITY

A temporary shelter on Randall’s Island for single men, Oct. 18, 2022.Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

On Tuesday afternoon an urgent email went out from the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services to vendors it regularly works with.

“We need your help!” the email begins. “The City is also looking for emergency sites such as gyms or dorms that are available quickly and that could be used by the City temporarily to provide immediate relief to asylum seekers.”

The email said the city is seeking spaces with open layouts and a minimum of 10,000 square feet with bathrooms. “Preferably showers (but we can figure out showers if need be),” the email reads.

The plea is the latest indication that Mayor Eric Adams’ administration is casting an increasingly wide net in an effort to prepare for the looming expiration of Title 42. That’s the federal doctrine in effect during the COVID-19 emergency that allowed U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to quickly turn people crossing the southern border without proper documentation back to Mexico — something border patrol did more than 2.8 million times since the rule was enacted in March 2020.

With the doctrine’s expiration at midnight Thursday, New York state officials are preparing for the arrival of “several thousand additional people seeking shelter each week,” according to an emergency order declared by Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday.

By Wednesday evening, the Adams administration had taken another dramatic step — crafting an executive order to suspend certain provisions of the city’s decades-old right to shelter that guarantees certain minimum standards for all people who shelter in New York City.

“This is not a decision taken lightly and we will make every effort to get asylum seekers into shelter as quickly as possible as we have done since day one,” Fabien Levy, a spokesperson for Adams said.

Levy said the executive order would suspend certain provisions of the law that require bathrooms, kitchens and a refrigerator, and the requirement that the city maintain a 24 hour a day intake center. Gothamist first reported the city was moving to suspend some provisions of the right to shelter law.

In recent days, the Adams administration has been scrambling to identify new locations where arriving migrants can stay temporarily, attempting to commandeer hotels in Rockland and Orange counties. But a judge granted the town of Orangetown in Rockland a restraining order late Tuesday.

City officials have also been calling around to major landlords, business leaders and the Port Authority, and requesting that city agencies identify vacant space, The New York Times reported.

And on Sunday, City Hall sent out a memo to municipal workers, asking for volunteers to work 12-hour shifts to help receive busloads of new arrivals, Gothamist reported.

A subsequent email, sent Wednesday to nonprofit providers from the NYC Department for the Aging, sought more volunteers to greet arrivals and help with “triaging urgent medical needs.”

Surges Expected and Unexpected

Adama Bah, an immigrant advocate who’s welcomed arrivals at the Port Authority alongside volunteers from groups including Artists Athletes Activists and Team TLC since last August, said she and her comrades are as prepared as they can be for whatever comes next.

”I don’t want to anticipate anger, fear, or anything. Whatever happens happens,” Bah said. “This is people, this is their lives.”

Bah spoke to THE CITY from a McDonalds near the Port Authority on Tuesday afternoon, as she ordered asylum-seekers Ubers from area airports, while juggling multiple phones.

“I just know that there’s people who need us and we need to help them,” she said. “That’s all I know.”

Power Malu, an organizer with the Artists Athletes Activists group who’s been helping for months at Port Authority and elsewhere to coordinate donations and support, said he had mixed feelings about what the coming days might bring.

“People are a little bit anxious about what’s going to happen,” Malu said. “But even with Title 42 in place, we still had hundreds of migrants coming in weekly into New York City. So we have to be paying attention to what’s really going on and not get caught up in the political rhetoric.”

Even ahead of the official expiration, the number of migrants arriving in New York City already surged in recent days, catching the Adams administration off guard. That’s what Manuel Castro, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, said at a City Council budget hearing on Wednesday morning.

“We knew we would see a surge after Title 42 was lifted this Friday but it happened sooner,” Castro said. In the last week, 1,578 new asylum-seekers have arrived in New York City, according to state officials.

New Use for Old Police Academy

As the city scrambled to find places for the newcomers to sleep, migrant families with children were sent to sleep in the gymnasium of the former police academy on East 20th Street in Manhattan, the Daily News reported. That raised red flags for homeless-rights advocates who warn of the danger of housing children in congregate settings.

“The old Police Academy was the most viable option,” Castro testified Wednesday, adding that all children have since been moved out of the facility.

“This was the best location we were able to find to set up cots and bring people from the airport,” Castro said, noting the gymnasium was better than the alternative: “They’ll end up in the streets by Port Authority and that’s what we’re trying to avoid.

“We’re looking for space anywhere we can find [it],” he said. “We need more space.”

Joshua Goldfein, a homeless-rights lawyer with The Legal Aid Society, said Adams administration officials have communicated they’re preparing for a scenario where they could receive as many as 1,500 new arrivals each day, up from around 200 people a day in recent months.

“That seems like a lot. That would be totally unimaginable. It also seems like a lot of people to transport here,” Goldfein said. “They are preparing as if that is something that could happen.”

Fabien Levy, a spokesperson for the mayor’s office, said they don’t know how many people might arrive each day.

“That’s a question for border cities/states and the activists coordinating for asylum seekers to arrive,” Levy wrote in an email. “We have not gotten a heads-up on how many asylum seekers will come here.”

Making History

All told, the city has opened up 122 emergency centers and eight so-called emergency relief centers to accommodate around 37,500 asylum-seekers over the past year, according to Kate Smart, a spokesperson for the Adams administration.

Their arrival has catapulted the number of people living in city shelters to historic highs — 85,000 people through the end of April — according to a monthly report released by city Comptroller Brad Lander on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, people are spending a longer amount of time in shelters. According to the latest Mayor’s Management Report, the average stay in city shelters was 509 days for adults, up 26 days from the prior fiscal year. Families with children stayed an average of 534 days in shelters, 14 days longer than in the prior year.

Advocates like Goldfein are urging city officials to put a renewed focus on moving people out of shelters into permanent housing, to relieve some of the backlog.

“How are we getting people out?” he said. “What’s the longer-term plan?”

At the Port Authority on Wednesday, one bus of migrants had arrived by midday, and other people showed up via various means. Wilmer Chavez, a 29-year-old Venezuelan, was there hoping he might get some help with legal questions he had about seeking asylum. He arrived by plane from Texas over the weekend.

“For my part, I’m very grateful for all that’s been offered here. To be given a roof has been a blessing,” Chavez told THE CITY in Spanish. “I’m not looking for a handout. You gotta work and sweat.”

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  1. Robert

    It’s amazing article

    as you are providing high quality content.
    “For my part, I’m very grateful for all that’s been offered here. To be given a roof has been a blessing,” Chavez told THE CITY in Spanish. “I’m not looking for a handout. You gotta work and sweat.”

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      Biden could have raised the minimum wage, but didn’t, not because Evil Republicans wouldn’t let him – it could have been done via executive order – but because he didn’t want to, and the quote ending the article explains why.

      1. JonnyJames

        Of course, Biden is anti-labor, pro-oligarchy, warmongering coward just like the rest.

  2. GramSci

    Back in 2008 or so, in The Predator State, James Galbraith had an ingenious solution to the border problem: Raise the minimum wage. I wonder why Congress doesn’t do that.

    1. eg

      A rhetorical question, presumably? Congress serves its donor class masters, and them only.

    2. digi_owl

      Because A tipping and B quasi-legal immigration.

      While USA may have abolished the overt slave system, the major features of it still exist in its economy to this day.

  3. Louis Fyne

    —- if the US cracked down on illegal immigrants, berries, which are hand-picked, would be more like $10 a pint. —

    Sorry to nitpick, maybe hand-picking is true for artisan varieties and small farmers…but for mass market fruit, it’s mechanized.

    but that person’s general point is true—-noticeable food inflation if border controls were strengthened particularly in the food packing/processing leg of the food chain (but in my opinion food inflation is worth higher labor wages and the end of exploitation of workers in the fields and slaughterhouses).

    Example, raspberries bushes (varieties developed to be tolerant of mechanical harvesting) are literally shaken to get the berries onto a machine.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      If we were all being paid in line with productivity gains realized over the last few decades, $10 for a box of berries wouldn’t be a problem.

      One thing the appification of everything has been really good for – stealing from people at scale. Just wait until they figure out how to force migrant workers to use an app if they want to get paid – then they’ll really get raked over the coals.

      1. digi_owl

        And that is the basic disconnect of the PMC on up and the rest.

        The only time they have to face the actual human cost of their lifestyles is when some delivery driver relieve themselves in the hedges to make time. The rest of the time everything is mediated via app or web site.

    2. Col 'Sandy' Volestrangler (ret)

      Here in Portland, berries are getting close to $10 a pint. They’re like 6.99

      1. Louis Fyne

        Not arguing your point just pointing out the differences in the market cuz the US is a big arse country…

        I bought a pound of strawberries at our regional Mega-Lo Mart for $2.58 last week. This week at the locally owned store, 1 lbs. of strawberries for $0.99 limit 4.

        For my area + time of year, these strawberries are “factory” berries from Mexico and California.

        Berries at the weekend farmers market >$8/pint…..guessing those berries are greenhouse (ie natural gas heated)-grown.

    3. digi_owl

      And those are the same industries that are now pushing hard to abolish child labor laws…

    4. Yves Smith Post author

      Not correct. Raspberries are nearly all hand picked. This is a 2023 article to farmers from an ag school:

      This article touting a machine concedes most raspberries are picked by hand:

      This article points out that most machine harvested blueberries are processed, as in made in to jam or pie filling:

      My friend was referring to the price per pint for those who buy them in little containers for their daily health fetish.

      1. IM Doc

        To your point,
        Anyone who has raspberry bushes can attest to the fact of how delicate they are while picking. Some varieties are covered in micro-thorns so hands are often very itchy for hours unless proper gloves are worn, making the whole process more difficult. I suppose you could use a machine if your intent was to have product for jams, etc. If you are picking to have whole fruit – nope. It is hard enough to do it by hand.

        Having grown up around blueberries my whole life, the basic concept is the same.

        Blackberries and strawberries are far more amenable to machine picking – but even then you can expect a lot of damage and a lot of “jam” fruit.

        It is with constant amazement that I get the feeling that most Americans believe that raspberries, meat, eggs, whatever – just magically appear from the back of the local Kroger.

        1. Hana M

          My mother told us toddlers this lovely story about the cow in the magic field in the back of the refrigerator. She was such a good story spinner that I could almost see that cow. Of course I eventually realized that the milk came from cows not too far away thanks to the milk man who delivered it in reusable bottles. And it had cream on the top! The Best. Fast forward forty years and one of my nephews in his teens remained convinced that chicken was a vegetable.

    1. Spring Texan

      Yes, and I couldn’t disagree more with “we shouldn’t be this generous to immigrants while we have so many homeless.” Many, though not all of the homeless, are hard to help – though I FULLY support helping them. But many are elderly, physically or mentally sick. We aren’t exactly being “generous” to immigrants at any time. Most come here willing to work like the dickens and they contribute enormously.
      It’s only because of immigrant labor that we could keep my mother at home instead of in a nursing home in the last months of her life. Hiring some homeless off the streets was NOT an alternative.
      I’m shocked to see this ultranationalism and anti-immigrantism. Wage issues are real. But the solution is not to totally close borders to migration while capital flows freely across borders to exploit people. Can we have totally open borders? No, only so much immigration is feasible. But it should be at a MUCH higher level than we are permitting now.
      There’s a beautiful Reba McIntyre song about economic migrants. The lyrics begin:
      The lights of Laredo dance on the water
      And shine in a young man’s eyes.
      Who stand on the border and dreams of paradise.
      He’s heard crazy stories of how people live over in the promised land.
      He heard they eat three meals a day, just across the Rio Grande.
      He’s got a wife named Maria, and a baby
      Named Rose, and another one to feed on the way.
      Two willing hands, that couldn’t find work today.
      He stares at the river and curses the future,
      That he can’t understand.
      He knows the child would have a chance, just
      Across the Rio Grande.
      It’s only a river,
      That’s not so deep or wide.
      A boy can throw a stone across and
      Reach the other side. It’s just some
      Muddy water, cutting through the land.
      But a man can make a dream come true
      Just across the Rio Grande.

      1. chris

        Wait a minute, because I don’t want to assume anything from your post. By “only because of immigrant labor…” did you mean that no one else was available? Or no one else you could afford was available?

        And for my money, the song that should be played on repeat during these discussions is Deportee by the Highwaymen.

        1. wilroncanada

          Deportee was a song about a plane crashin 1948 in Los Gatos Canyon, words by Woody Guthrie, music by Martin Hofman. Also sung effectively by /woody’s son, Arlo.

          1. chris

            Yep. I think it explains the situation beautifully. We treat these people horribly and when they die, they’re just “deportee”. I knew it was written earlier but for some reason the words being sung by Nelson, Cash, Kristoffersen just hit hard. It is important to realize that whatever decisions we make in this regard people will likely die. That’s why I think “Deportee” is the song that should be ringing in our ears when we debate this.

  4. lyman alpha blob

    “We should not be anywhere this generous to immigrants when we are doing a piss poor job of helping our own economically disadvantaged.”

    That pretty much sums up my feelings on the situation. We have tent cities popping up all over the place and I keep having to tell my kid who’s grown up with it now that this is not normal. Meanwhile hundreds of immigrants keep being sent here, and while they are definitely not being given the red carpet treatment, they are being given housing, and food and an education. Because they are asylum seekers, they can’t work right away so the authorities dealing with this have filled up all the cheap hotels in the area with immigrants, which might have housed poor local people in the past. Since all of this plays a role in the skyrocketing rents in the area, one proposed solution is to just let the immigrants start working sooner so they can be taken out of the free housing. But as you note these are asylum seekers who are supposed to have a valid and pressing reason to jump the line to get into the country, and I really don’t think that’s being vetted. Meanwhile our school is full to overflowing in order to accommodate all the new students, and our taxes just got jacked up, mainly due to the skyrocketing school budget which is what happens when you suddenly have several hundred more students to educate than you’d planned for.

    It’s gotten to the point where city officials are begging the state to stop sending people here, but I have a suspicion that the chamber of commerce is whispering in the governor’s ear to keep sending them anyway, because they need people to work in all the brand new luxury hotels that have been built in recent years (in lieu of affordable housing), since all the locals have been priced out of living anywhere near the city that needs people to fill service jobs.

    We’ve completely [family blog]ed the US economy eight ways to Sunday and I don’t see how this gets fixed any time soon, given that Uncle Sam doesn’t seem in any hurry to stop destabilizing countries all over the world, economically, militarily,or both, which is of course the main driver for all this.

    1. digi_owl

      I just wonder how will afford to live in those hotels.

      Or will it all be about conspicuous consumption by the PMCs, facilitated by credit card debt?

    2. Jeff

      When you say “we’ve hosed the economy”…. you mean the voters who choose to remain ignorant and do what they’re told to do?

      Hopefully those days are coming to a close. It won’t be soon. People still cling not to their guns and religion, but to their political parties, public policy leader, labor leader and favorite cable news channels to tell them what to think, who to trust and that Putin is a mean scary man out to get them.

  5. The Rev Kev

    I would guess that the US economy is so dependent on the cheap labour provided by all those people illegally entering the country that if it came to a complete stop, they would be sending down C-17 Globemasters to South America to pick up people by the planeload to bring back to work. If they were really serious about doing something about all those people, they would stop destabilizing all those countries south of the border and would be putting employers into prison for hiring illegal emigrants.

    1. David in Friday Harbor

      I’d have to research my memory, so this is anecdata, but I recall that a county in Arizona imposed draconian penalties on employers for hiring workers who they knew or reasonably should have known to be undocumented migrants. The first offense resulted in the suspension of their business license for two weeks; the second offense resulted in permanent revocation. The county funded enforcement and required businesses to submit to inspection as a condition of their business licence.

      Within the year the county’s school system collapsed due to the disappearance of Average Daily Attendance dollars when all the children of undocumented migrants disappeared.

      The problem with migration is wage-suppression through the hiring of migrants. The Federal Reserve is more than happy to see migrant workers replacing “greedy” Americans workers. The voters know this — as Yves points out, legal immigrants more than anyone. Which is why there are legions of “Hispanic” Trump voters.

      1. Jeff

        Illegal immigration is simply a nicer name for importing poorer people than we already have that are barely scraping by. Weird how there’s no ability for those defending importing poor people to recognize that we have quite a few of them already. 1 in 5 LA County residents lives at or below the poverty line.

    2. JonnyJames

      But scapegoating immigrants is a US tradition. All of our problems can be blamed on desperate, poor and powerless folks. When one reads history from the 1800s it was the same old BS: the Irish are disease-ridden, poor, violent, drunks who are mostly criminals. Immigrants are used as a divide and rule distraction “political football” and always have been.

      (On another angle, I can only imagine what the indigenous American Indians must have thought or still think: “these smelly, violent, drunken, disease-ridden European hordes should go home and leave us alone.)

  6. DGL

    “In light of imperial resource extraction, free trade agreements, and neoliberal austerity imposed on countries south of the US border, I would argue, economic migrants that cross the border on foot should qualify as refugees.”

    I agree with this statement. As long as I can remember, and historically before that with the Spanish American War, the USA has controlled the South. All through the 1950’s – 70’s all and any land reform, social democratic reform was quashed. ITT said in the 60’s they could invest in Latin America and make so much in seven years that they did not plan beyond that. Even so, it was not until NAFTA destroyed agriculture in the South, was there an overwhelming influx of illegal immigrants.

    The USA has a trail of destruction around the world. Latin America has been repeatedly destroyed. The difference today is our foreign activities have come home for the last 50 years. The destruction within our borders is near completion. Homelessness is a sign we are all illegal.

    With every passing year, the actions and policies of the FDR administration rise high as a beacon for humanity the casts rapacious capitalists in a shadow.

    1. Jeff

      Explain how importing even more poor people will help the poor people already here. The Rube Goldberg machine that is our economy isn’t working for the majority of people anymore and the working poor are getting absolutely shellacked.

      I sympathize with the plight of many who want to come here, but where exactly are they going to live if the people already here can’t afford housing? SF, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, NYC, LA and other sanctuary cities that mean well can’t figure out where all of these people are supposed to go.

      Where is the critical thinking?

  7. chris

    I hate this argument. I abhor the situation the Biden administration has created by extending Trump’s Title 42 policy so long. But I truly loathe the people who fake pious concern about illegals when it comes to these issues.

    This population is a huge burden on border communities and other places because you can’t plan for them. It’s not like teachers can suddenly appear when you discover you have 10 or 20 or 30 more students. Or that hospital beds magically relocate where they’re needed because you have a population sick with Whooping Cough or Hanta virus. Because this population is by definition migratory you’re always one step behind in planning for what resources you need to support them and the communities they’re moving through. And it’s never the nice places in town where these people are directed to settle. It’s always where they’re a burden on other poor people. When housing becomes more scarce, the landlords and other property owners tasked with assisting the state to accommodate them are allowed to overcrowd their rental units. And of course the rents that the Coyotes extract invite a plague of crime and debt into wherever the migrants settle. This is an awful situation. There is effectively no way to tell who has legitimate asylum claims or who is an economic migrant, and given the damage the US has done for decades south of the border, what would be the significant difference between those two categories now anyway?

    As far as I’m concerned, let’s militarize the border and put a hard stop on any crossing outside of recognized points of entry, and then we put the heads of all the Coyotes we catch on pikes at the border to set an example for what happens to child trafficking criminals and slave drivers. Push the cartels out of our national parks and back into Mexico. The US is closed to you and all who you bring here.

    1. Spring Texan

      I don’t agree with this, but in any case miilitarizing the border DOES NOT WORK and WILL NEVER WORK. It makes me sick to hear doubling down on this cruel and failed strategy. If we allow more legal immigration, we won’t have the coyotes and crimes and deaths We need some strategies to limit migration partially, but only partially, and we need to legalize more immigrants so they can join unions.

      1. chris

        So, it’s less cruel to put them on the streets with no aid in winter? It’s less cruel to allow them to come and work jobs at substandard wages with no labor rights? It’s less cruel to allow more people coming into a country with a raging housing problem for its current citizens? And how do you limit something partially if you can’t control it?

        I grew up in Arizona close to the border. There is no way to accomplish what you propose.

        Enforce the official points of entry. Apply harsh penalties to anyone who hires an illegal. Stop making life hell for people south of the border. Fight the cartels. Those are things we can do.

    2. jrkrideau

      This population is a huge burden on border communities and other places because you can’t plan for them.

      This reminds me of that hurricane that devastated New Orleans. Many people could not evacuate. This was not a problem you could not plan for. All you had to do was declare a state of emergency, grab every school bus in 3 or 4 states and run shuttles on a dedicated bit of highway.

      Perfect, heck no, chaotic across the board and it would not have covered everything but it would have gotten a lot of people to a safer place. I spent days wondering why state & US gov’ts did not do this or something similar.

      If you are expecting a huge influx of refugees you can, by definition, plan for them. What you do, well is not that why the USA funds FEMA or even the US Army to plan? Their jobs are to deal with crises.

      1. chris

        I agree that we could have planned for Katrina a lot better. I disagree you can plan for a surge of illegals. Most don’t want to stay at the border. You going to run buses from Texas to Michigan just because? Or are you going to poll the migrants first? You going to get clearance from Georgia before you dump a set of people there, or are you just going to drop them off with a vaya con dios…or are you going to strip these migrants of their agency, force them to go to places where we have room and resources, and keep eyes on them until their asylum hearing? Better decide quickly, you’ll have millions of people coming each year under the current situation. Their numbers are likely to increase due to climate change.

        And while you’re figuring out all that, come up with some talking points to explain why poor people should be happy that we can’t expand the social safety net in the US. Because if there is no limit on immigration then we can’t expand the social safety net.

        FEMA and the US army don’t have this kind of thing on their missions. They’re not currently set up to do it. That’s why customs and border patrol and ICE are different organizations.

  8. Carolinian

    We should not be anywhere this generous to immigrants when we are doing a piss poor job of helping our own economically disadvantaged.

    But all those poor white people have their white privilege and are therefore less worthy of our compassion.

    Or something. There’s this pervasive thinking among current elites that the world runs on racism and if we can just stamp it out everything will be different. Whereas the reality is that the world runs on power and race is just a tool the powerful use to maintain their status. This latter realization is inconvenient to the billionaires who now fund the Democratic party.

    We are living in an era of bad thinking whereas the New Deal was an attempt at evidence based government. Bring it back.

    1. JonnyJames

      Yes indeed, the white working class must be pitted against working-class blacks, indigenous and non-white immigrants. That’s the divide and rule tactic from day one and it works very well. Meanwhile, we all get screwed.

    2. David in Friday Harbor

      One of the most insidious forms of racism is what I like to call Paternalistic Rascism.

      Both “Racism” and “anti-Racism” are about power and caste relations. It makes many people feel superior when they can engage in rescue fantasies involving childlike “little brown people” who will be forever grateful for being “saved” by getting to shop at Walmart.

      Agree with the comment above: In our culture only money confers personhood. Soon we will all be illegals.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      … There’s this pervasive thinking among current elites that the world runs on racism and if we can just stamp it out everything will be different…

      That’s what they want you to think they think. They know the world runs on lots and lots of money.

    4. Yves Smith Post author

      I suspect people of color are disproportionately represented among the homeless, given income distribution. That is certainly what I saw in New York City.

  9. Tedder

    In my younger days, I spent a couple of years working at a clinic in a rural Mexican village. I learned that almost every young man either had gone or planned to go “al otro lado.” Every year, a cohort of Mexicans went to work in construction or agriculture to earn enough dollars to marry and take a wife. It was a “rite of passage.”
    NAFTA ended that program as Clinton militarized the border, knowing that cheap Midwest corn would wipe out indigenous farmers who would then migrate North to survive.
    This problem was exacerbated by the rise of drug cartels. In my village, a cartel took over the whole town, murdering my best friend in the street because he opposed them.
    Similar examples of US imperialism destabilizing Mexico, Central America, South America, and Haiti abound, from death squads in El Salvador and Guatemala, economic sanctions, extractive international corporations, and so on. This immigration border crisis is entirely manufactured by capitalist imperialism, so we should have more shame than outrage.

  10. JonnyJames

    Rhetorical questions:

    Why do refugees and migrants choose to risk their lives and move to a hostile country like the US?
    How does US foreign policy affect migration?
    How does US financial imperialism affect migration? (including IMF/World Bank)
    Is US immigration policy a form of subsidy for US business interests?

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Don’t forget the changing climate. There are more and more places south of us that are becoming unlivable because of heat, floods, hurricanes, etc. This is only going to get worse. And who’s to blame for the climate crisis? Charts

  11. Joe Well

    >>given the over-representation of single young men.

    Some very important context: these are precisely the individuals most targeted by the gangs in Honduras and El Salvador, and now also by the governments’ sometimes arbitrary arrests. There are many who have seen brothers and friends killed because they refused to join the gangs, or were mistaken for gang members.

    These are working-class refugees fleeing for their lives, not college-educated dissidents who are fetishized by human rights groups. But which is worse, being jailed for writing an article or killed just for no reason at all?

    And the US bears a lot of the responsibility for the crime in these countries between providing the guns, the demand for the drugs, and destabilizing these countries repeatedly for more than a century.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Do you make room for the tiny possibility that one or two gang recruiters might slip in and recreate that lovely little bit of home here in their new land of milk and honey?

      Several commenters here have made the point that u.s. “foreign policy” is responsible for this invasion of uneducated, non-English speaking economic migrants, and while that may be true, it’s no substitute for immediate, definitive resolution of this situation, which is creating conditions that will take years to resolve if it doesn’t change this country permanently and not for the better.

      Deliberately enlarging a permanently disaffected underclass with non-citizens, particularly at the start of what is promising to be an economic downturn of some sort, could fairly be called diabolical or nefarious as opposed to generous or humane as far as I’m concerned.

      While we are told that these people are “needed” economically, low level hospitality, chicken-plucking and lawn mowing “jobs” are not limitless. The economy “creates,” what, 180,000 “jobs” of every type each month?

      “We” are digging a very deep hole here and should stop now, no matter what it takes. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially in a country with a government as corrupt and dysfunctional as this one.

  12. IM Doc

    I have been in my current location for about several years now.

    We are not all that close to any borders. We have NEVER seen the influx of illegal immigrants that we have in the past 6 months or so.

    This is a very small community. It has more resources than most across the great midsection, but the situation is rapidly becoming untenable.

    And more of a concern to me is the diseases that these unfortunate souls have. In the past 3 months, I have now seen 5 cases of actually active TB – and another 11 of latent TB. These people are out working in the community and walking through your Wal-Marts. The story is the same no matter where they are coming from – there is absolutely ZERO screening on the border. Let me put it this way – it is not just COVID that needs to be worried about crossing the border. Even more concerning is the now 8 patients I have seen in the past few weeks that are HIV positive. Of this 8, 6 are full blown AIDS with CD4 less than 200 and AIDS defining infections. Some of these people are extremely ill. AIDS is old hat to me so I know exactly what to do. The problem is how many little towns in this country have a doctor who grew up in the AIDS crisis? I dare say not many. One of these patients has now had blood work and medical testing that he has a 70K bill – the others are 10-12K and counting. There are another 2 or 3 new ones on my schedule next week. All of this is coming out of federal Ryan White money, but that is not an eternal well. They are taking up all kinds of community resources that are now having to be carefully distributed for everyone else. I am “NO CHARGING” their visits – what would Jesus do? – but not sure how long that will be tenable for my hospital – these patients are extremely staff intensive. IOW, it is not just me doing free care – we already have a massive staffing problem stemming from the vaccine mandates. There are just not enough staff to deal with any more loads like this and even begin to attempt to take care of the very ill citizens in the community.

    In brief, this is a non-tenable situation. There is, as has become usual, absolutely no help or guidance from the feds – We are all alone here in the dark making this up as we go along – completely uncertain of how long the funding and/or resources will hold up. I simply can no longer believe the absolute and total catastrophic incompetence of our government, in almost everything they touch.

    There is absolutely ZERO screening in check points on the border.

  13. Aurelien

    I haven’t been to the US-Mexican border so won’t comment on that directly, but I’d just make the obvious point that essentially the same phenomenon occurs pretty much all over the world, and often on a large scale, as people move across borders to countries which are seen as richer or more secure than where they currently live. It’s actually a logical extension of the internal migration process that has created sprawling mega-cities in Africa and elsewhere.

    For example, if you go to French Guyana, you probably want to leave again quickly: but actually, the major problem the authorities there face is illegal immigration. No matter how grim things are there, they are a lot worse in the neighbouring countries. You may have heard recently of problems on the French Island of Mayotte in the Indian Ocean: nearly 80% of the population live below the poverty line, but its economy and society are collapsing under the weight of massive and uncontrolled immigration from the African continent, from as far away as the Great Lakes area. It was mass immigration into the Côte d’Ivoire from poorer countries like Burkina Faso that helped to start the Civil War there. These relationships can be multiplied almost endlessly all over the world: what matters is not absolute security or economic prospects, but those relative to the place you were born in.

    The danger, as I’ve argued elsewhere, is that the search for underlying causes, and the comfortable sensation of moral superiority and sitting in judgement on others that this often produces, is in the end just a recipe for doing nothing. After all, how long will it be before US policy towards Mexico changes? A week? A month? Three months? And how long before that has enough effect to stop the flow of migrants? Three months? Six months? A year?

    1. jrkrideau

      “if you go to French Guyana” strikes me as a special case. French Guyana is an overseas département of France. I suspect that getting legal residence there means legal residence anywhere in France, overseas France, and a chance at French citizenship.

      I’d go for that. It is a far cry from Côte d’Ivoire.

      But the principle holds The USA may be a bit of a hellhole for refugees but it beat the hellhole they are escaping by a long shot.

    2. Felix_47

      I think the immigration you are describing is to get to France ultimately. They have free access to France from former colonies.

      1. Aurelien

        No, because you’d need a French ID card to get on an aeroplane. The point is not just that the standard of living is higher there, but the services of a modern state are available.

    3. Polar Socialist

      While very much tangential to the discussion here, I’d like to point out that “economic migration” is not a new phenomenon – it’s what humanity has done for the most of it’s existence. It’s actually how we, as a species, left the East African Rift some 300,000 years ago.

      The original Silk Road moved not just stuff and ideas, but also people around in great quantities. In many parts of the globe seasonal migration has been the norm until industrial times.

      As far as I know, it was only several centuries ago when people came up with he idea of banning other people to settle among them, and even then it was only Jews and only if they refused to convert. One could probably count the forced conversion during the reconquista in 15th century, but that was more about expulsion than migration.

      1. chris

        That’s a very good point. It captures the spirit of the debate in that a lot of this feels like putting fingers in all the holes in the dike. It is a fascinating thing to consider, what would be different if there were no borders. All the economic discussions of it I’ve seen point to a vanishing safety net and only primary benefits for citizens. Like, “we can’t kill you without a trial first” kind of rights. I’m not sold on that being a good idea for the US. I can see all kinds of bad outcomes if we were to drop all pretenses of border enforcement now. Can you imagine what the cartels would do in that case? But maybe that’s a variation of the subject cost fallacy rearing it’s ugly head in my thoughts.

  14. KD

    As a conservative contact argued, if the US cracked down on illegal immigrants, berries, which are hand-picked, would be more like $10 a pint. He says he’s willing to pay that and have them less often, but his diet-obsessed peers (berries confer many health benefits) recoil at the idea.

    The reality is that berries would not go to $10 a pint, higher labor costs would force businesses to innovate, purchase new capital goods and improve productivity. If you look at antiquity, the Greeks had steam engines, they had the mathematics and science to move down the road to industrialization, but they didn’t, because they had slaves to do the work for cheap. Structurally cheap labor is just a way to institutionalize economic stagnation. If you compare Japan, dealing with falling population and no immigration, and America, Japan is focused on innovation and increased productivity using robotics, whereas cheap labor America the creativity goes into expanding rent seeking grifts the better to rip off consumers.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Please read what IM Doc said. You can’t pick raspberries and blueberries by machine if you want to sell them as whole fruit (berries, not jam or compote or syrup). The are too fragile.

      Similarly, no one is willing to acknowledge that the most accurate way to detect breast cancer early is a manual exam by someone who has felt a lot of boobs. The idea that something other than imaging is most effective is contrary to our scientific pretenses.

      And while we are at it, sniffer dogs are the best drug detectors…

      1. KD

        Even if one concedes that it is technologically impossible to automate harvest of certain varieties of berries, if you were operating in a high wage environment where you can’t offshore to some third world banana republic, you would see innovation, capital investment, and higher productivity, creating more consumers able to buy overpriced berries.

        Besides which, I am not sure what we are worried about, if you look at what people are willing to pay for crappy electric cars, I am sure the same people can fork it over for berries. If you look at the food system, it is horrible in terms of producing cheap crap for the plebes, if the problem was food for the masses, just tax soda and junk food and subsidize berries. The PMC already hate cigarettes, and this is another way to patronize and penalize the working class, so the political will is probably present.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I don’t think you understand the high end, health obsessive market. This was ~8 years ago, but in Charlottesville, VA (wealth level greatly exceeds income level due to people buying fancy horse-y farms and silly vanity vineyards), there was a market not just for consumers buying a cow while on the hoof (as in looking it in the eye, as if you could really be sure “your” cow was the one you got) but even picking which grass it ate to influence meat flavor.

          1. KD

            fancy horse-y farms and silly vanity vineyards

            Hate to say it, but horsey farms and vanity vineyards make dem fine tax shelters.

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