The 2 Causes of the Influx of Migrants to the U.S.

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Why are so many migrants crossing the United States border? What does the Biden administration have to do with it?

Border state governors are busing thousands of immigrants to northern cities to pressure the Biden administration to stop a surge of border crossings. Critics call the gambit cruel and inhumane. But neither side has a plan to fix the underlying problem.

Let’s take a look at what’s causing the influx of migrants in the first place.

Record-Breaking Numbers

Since spring, Republican governors Greg Abbott of Texas and Doug Ducey of Arizona have bused thousands of asylum-seeking immigrants—a fraction of those crossing their borders—to the Democratic-run “sanctuary” cities of Washington D.C, New York, and Chicago. Recently, Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron De Santis joined in, flying about 50 immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.

Their objective is to draw attention to the record numbers of immigrants crossing the southern border, and prompt Democratic leaders to pressure the Biden administration into reducing the flow. Critics such as Texas Democratic governor candidate Beto O’Rourke contend the busing is aimed at gaining votes.

What’s Driving the Upsurge in Border Crossings?

The US detained a record number of undocumented immigrants—2.15 million—at the US-Mexico border in the fiscal year starting in October 2021, according to US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). This represents a 24% increase over the previous year, and it’s the first time the number has exceeded 2 million.

The influx of migrants crossing the border began earlier in 2021, when President Biden took office. Assuming it represents an increase in migrants rather than an increase in apprehensions, experts—and critics—cite two major reasons behind the surge:

  1. Biden administration policy changes
  2. Economic and political conditions in specific countries as well as in the region as a whole

1. Policy Changes

While the flow of southern immigration was strong under the Trump administration, several Biden administration policy changes and directions have contributed to the subsequent record influx.

  • Amnesty: Biden proposed giving legal status to approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US, although the legislation has stalled.
  • Remain in Mexico policy: In August 2022, Biden ended the “Remain in Mexico” policy, which had required certain asylum seekers (about 70,000) to wait in Mexico for their US immigration hearings. 
  • Border wall: Biden ended wall construction and a national emergency declaration.
  • Family separation: Biden ended the policy of splitting families arriving at the border.
  • Title 42: Biden wants to end this emergency health measure imposed during the pandemic that bypasses immigration laws and immediately expels undocumented arrivals (if their home countries agree to take them).

While some have described the changes as “modest” and humane, critics say they’ve encouraged migration, although Biden has publicly implored potential migrants, including asylum seekers, to not come to the US.

2. Economic and Political Conditions

In addition to US policy changes, economic and political conditions continue to drive immigration.

The latest US Customs and Border Protection statistics show the number of immigrants from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras falling (down 43% from August 2021), and the number from Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba rising (up 175%). Agency officials cite:

  • Economic failure and political repression triggering immigration throughout the hemisphere
  • A jump in repeat crossings
  • Ongoing economic issues stemming from the pandemic
The 2 Causes of the Influx of Migrants to the U.S.

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Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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