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.
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.”
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.”