President Joe Biden’s words and his rollback of former President Donald Trump’s immigration restrictions are the primary reasons behind a spike in illegal crossings at the United States’ southern border, an immigration expert said.
“It’s driven by Biden’s rhetoric, his rollback of Trump administration restrictions at the border,” Andrew Arthur, resident fellow in law and policy for the Center for Immigration Studies, told The Epoch Times.
Biden, who campaigned in part on rescinding Trump immigration orders, not only halted construction of the wall at the border, but ended the Trump-era Migrant Protection Protocols, which forced many asylum seekers to wait in Mexico until their claims were heard.
“In addition, the administration has signaled to individuals who are considering coming to this country that its policies are much different from the Trump administration,” Arthur added. “So all of those things put together are really the reason why we’re seeing this increase.”
The number of crossings along the southern border in February alone was over 100,000, recently released federal data shows. That’s despite a week of freezing weather, and doesn’t include the 26,000 who evaded capture, Jaeson Jones, a former Texas Department of Public Safety captain, told The Epoch Times.
Historically, spikes in migration have happened in the summer, when the weather is more favorable for traveling. The spike doesn’t bode well for the upcoming months. It was the highest number of apprehensions in 14 years for the month of February, according to Border Patrol numbers Arthur analyzed.
In a chart from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) tracking encounters, the blue line representing this fiscal year’s apprehensions is trending above the line representing the sharp increase seen in fiscal 2019, when 60,781 illegal crossings in October spiked to 144,116 in seven months.
Some of the apprehensions are of people who try crossing again after being ejected following an initial attempt. For example, agents saw about 75,000 unique individuals out of over 100,000 apprehensions in February, Troy Miller, the senior official performing the duties of CBP commissioner, told reporters on a call this week.
Biden administration officials, including Miller, have said the recent spike is due to economic and social instability in the countries where migrants are coming from, the COVID-19 pandemic, and recent inclement weather events.
“So if you put all those issues together, you’re going to see folks are looking for a better way of life,” Miller said.
Still, a top border official in a briefing on March 10 acknowledged Biden’s policies may be driving the surge.
“Surges tend to respond to hope, and there was a significant hope for a more humane policy after four years of pent up demand,” Roberta Jacobson, the administration’s southwestern border coordinator, told reporters at the White House in Washington.
Officials have insisted the border isn’t open, but their policies and Biden’s rhetoric on the campaign trail and since then is undermining those claims, Arthur told The Epoch Times.
Unless the administration and Congress act by amending existing immigration law and reimposing restrictions, the crisis could easily get worse, he added.
“That the numbers are so high so early is a harbinger of bad things,” he said.
Charlotte Cuthbertson contributed to this report.