The influx of migrants illegally crossing into the United States is a result of single adults – men in particular – searching for work, according to an analysis of Customs and Border Patrol data.
Many migrants crossing the border are trying to take advantage of the easing pandemic restrictions in the country, seeking jobs picking produce, roofing, or even washing dishes, Border Patrol agents told the Wall Street Journal, based on what the migrants are telling them.
The flood of people surging toward the border is creating the largest crisis in the past 20 years, the WSJ says, with single adults accounting for 82 percent of the apprehensions at the border so far this year.
The response to the growing crisis will now be led by Vice President Kamala Harris, taking on her first major policy role since taking office two months ago.
But some Republicans are questioning Harris’s commitment to tackling the issue after her past statements, including one that said people trying to cross the border illegally were not ‘criminals.’
The current influx of migration isn’t from families, but from single adults looking for work
Of those apprehended, 82 percent have been single adults (Pictured: Migrants walking along railway in Tenosique, Tabasco in Mexico)
Of those single adults who have been apprehended, 60 percent have been Mexicans
Still, while Harris more recently has expressed the desire to find a pathway to citizenship for the 12 million undocumented workers already in the US, she has said she would push to discourage people from making their way to the US border.
‘I look forward to engaging in diplomacy with government, with the private sector, with civil society and the leaders of each in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras,’ Harris said on Wednesday, according to New York Daily News.
Of the apprehensions taking place during the current fiscal year, 82 percent have been single adults and 60 percent of those single adults have been Mexicans, which differs from recent influxes of Central American migrants.
The data comes from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the surge in illegal immigration at the southern border is the biggest in two decades.
Family apprehensions are up slightly in the first five months of the fiscal year from 2020, with 39,000 arrested a year after 37,000 were arrested in the same timeframe.
At the same time in 2019, however, 136,000 families were arrested at the border, over three times greater than the current year, showing the current influx isn’t from migrant families.
In data CBP showed to NPR, more than 5,000 unaccompanied migrant children and teens are in CBP custody.
An average of 590 children and teens have crossed the border each day in the last three weeks, with children staying in CBP custody for an average of 131 hours, beyond the 72-hour limit.
The White House has limited media access to the CBP facilities, with a facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas serving as a site for access on Wednesday.
Pictured: U.S. Customs and Border Protection deporting migrants to Mexico
Pictured: Migrants on Tuesday crossing the border into Mission, Texas
That site reportedly houses 766 minors, all teenage boys, with the capacity for almost 200 more.
The White House is facing accusations that the facility shown doesn’t paint the whole picture of the problems at the border.
‘We’ll continue to work with agencies on creating avenues for media access to and visibility into these facilities,’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
Vice President Kamala Harris was tapped on Wednesday to lead the border response
With Harris set to take over the response on the border, the GOP was quick to attack her for previous stances on illegal immigration.
‘She is not going to be able to solve this crisis,’ Sen. Ted Cruz said on America’s Newsroom on Thursday morning.
‘Kamala Harris doesn’t have anything to do other than go down there and let everybody go. I mean, that’s the only option that is consistent with the political promises she’s made.’
Biden, who has placed the blame of the current surge on Donald Trump, has aimed to overturn many of the Trump-era immigration policies at the border, as he’s allowing unaccompanied migrant children to stay in the U.S. as they seek asylum.
‘This new surge we are dealing with now started with the last administration, but it’s our responsibility to deal with it humanely and to stop what’s happening,’ Biden said.
He is still allowing other migrants to be expelled from the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
His administration is planning on restoring a $700 million foreign aid program for El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala in hopes that strengthening the local economies will mitigate migration.
Migrants cross over the Usumacinta River from Guatemala into Mexico
In a statement last week, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas called the situation at the border ‘difficult.’
He noted that most of those being apprehended at the border were single adults from Mexico and the three Central American countries, and that they were being expelled to Mexico when applicable.
‘There are limited exceptions to our use of the CDC’s expulsion authority,’ the statement read. ‘For example, we do not expel individuals with certain acute vulnerabilities.’
The statement notes poverty, violence, natural disasters, and the COVID-19 pandemic has reasons for the current surge.
WHAT KAMALA HARRIS SAYS ON IMMIGRATION AND BORDER AGENTS
– April 2017 Twitter thread:
‘An undocumented immigrant is not a criminal. We are not a society that is going to stand for tearing families apart. We are not going to buy into this administration’s fear mongering.’
‘It’s ludicrous to say we’re going to deport 12 million people. Now how are you going to do that? Give people a path to citizenship. The vast majority of folks we’re talking about are living a lawful life and paying taxes.’
– Nov. 10, 2016 – days after Donald Trump took office:
‘This issue of how we are treating our immigrants, and in particular our undocumented immigrants, is one of the most critical issues facing our country. We are not going to be achieving who we say we are as a country if we attack our community members, our neighbors, our friends and our colleagues.’
– Wednesday – comments after being appointed to head border crisis:
‘While we are clear that people should not come to the border now, we also understand that we will enforce the law and that we also—because we can chew gum and walk at the same time—must address the root causes that cause people to make the trek, as the president has described, to come here.’
‘At some point, absolutely we will go down to the border and I’ve been down to the border and our secretary of the Homeland Security Alex Mayorkas has been down there twice. Senior administration officials have been down there and yes, we will go.’
– 2018 – when voting against 2018 bill with $25 billion in border wall funding:
‘A wall will not secure our border and I remain concerned those billions of dollars may also be used to implement this Administration’s anti-immigrant agenda—one that targets California and its residents.’
– 2019 – published in her book, The Truths We Hold:
‘There are a few things more cruel, more inhumane, more fundamentally evil than ripping a child from her parent’s arms. The administration claimed that it wouldn’t separate families seeking asylum if they arrived at an official port of entry, as opposed to other parts of the border. But that didn’t hold true.’
– 2018 confirmation hearing for Trump’s nominee to head Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Ronald Vitiello:
VITIELLO: Well, the Klan was what we would call today a domestic terrorist group.
VITIELLO: ‘Cause they tried to use fear and force to change political environment.
HARRIS: And what was the motivation for the use of fear and force?
VITIELLO: It was based on race and ethnicity.
HARRIS: Right. Are you aware of the perception of many about how the power and the discretion at ICE is being used to enforce the laws? And do you see any parallels?
VITIELLO: I do not see any parallels between sworn officers and agents–
HARRIS: I’m talking about perception.
VITIELLO: I do not see a parallel between what is constitutionally mandated as it relates to enforcing the law –
HARRIS: Are you aware that there’s a perception –
VITIELLO: I see no perception that puts ICE in the same category as the KKK. Is that what you’re asking me?
June 18, 2018 statement calling for Trump’s DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to resign:
‘The government should be in the business of keeping families together, not tearing them apart. And the government should have a commitment to transparency and accountability. Under Secretary Nielsen’s tenure, the Department of Homeland Security has a track record of neither. As a result, she must resign.’
‘During her time as the manager of the government’s third largest agency, the Department has implemented a policy that has separated thousands of children from their families, issued a directive to make it easier to detain pregnant women, tried to use [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] DACA recipients as leverage to achieve the President’s anti-immigrant agenda, failed to address some of the agency’s most pressing management challenges and overseen the continued failed response to tragedy in Puerto Rico.’