Democrats suddenly realize that open borders are a disaster

Written by Javed Iqbal

Republican border state governors are to send busloads of illegal entrants — released in their states by the Department of Homeland Security — to DC and New York City, prompting accusations and pleas for federal money from the Democratic mayors of the formerly immigrant-friendly cities.

These mayors are making, seemingly unwittingly, the governors’ point — that the administration has created a disaster at the U.S.-Mexico line that requires an immediate policy shift to protect lives and state and local finances.

It started in April. Fed up with federal releases of large numbers of migrants to overwhelmed small towns in his state (including Uvalde), Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) began offering migrants free bus rides to DC to shift some of the burden to Washington.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) followed suit in May, and more than 7,300 migrants have since arrived in DC from the two states, creating what even Vanity Fair has called “A migrant crisis in Washington.”

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), who affirmed her city’s status as a “sanctuary city” for immigrants after Donald Trump’s election in 2016, is now deriding Abbott and Ducey’s efforts as “cruel political gamesmanship” that is creating a “humanitarian crisis” in her city ​​that “must be dealt with at the federal level” in a letter to the Ministry of Defense requesting support from the National Guard (since rejected).

Bowser complained about what at the time totaled 4,000 migrants over a three-month period in her city of more than 707,000. In March, by comparison, DHS turned over up to 150 migrants a day in Uvalde, population 15,312, or about one migrant for every 102 residents daily.

Venezuelan migrants sent by Texas Governor Greg Abbott in DC's Union Station on August 2, 2022.
Venezuelan migrants sent by Texas Governor Greg Abbott in DC’s Union Station on August 2, 2022.
Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images

New York Mayor Eric Adams (D) also weighed in, accused Texas and Arizona in July of busing 2,800 migrants into his city (population: 8.467 million) over a six-week period, straining the city’s homeless shelters. Adams also demanded federal money to help his government run its course.

Both governors denied Adams’ charge, but Abbott apparently saw it as an invitation, as he has also just started sending buses to Manhattan.

Adams’ office and The New York Times described these migrants in New York as “asylum seekers”, but that’s just mostly untrue. DHS statistics show that between July 2021 and July 2022, the department had approved fewer than 40,000 “arriving aliens” to apply for asylum in the United States.

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser accused the Republican governors of creating a
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser accused the Republican governors of creating a “humanitarian crisis” in her city.
Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images

During the same period, however, CBP encountered 2.361 million arrivals at the Southwest border, expelled 1.142 million during CDC’s Pandemic-Related Title 42 Orders (which Biden nevertheless opposes) and released about 853,000 in the US – meaning that only about 5% of the migrants Adams complains about are really “asylum seekers.”

All of these migrants, either approved for asylum or not, were released for deportation hearings, which can take years to complete. Nationally, the average immigration case has been pending for 829 days and 953 days in New York. The only relief available to most of these illegal immigrants is asylum, so those who appear in court will apply for the protection to stay here longer, even if they just came to make more money.

The New York Times article focused on Venezuelan migrants in New York City. Under Biden, agents on the southwest border have apprehended 157,600 Venezuelans, 57% of them single adults. Only 1,404 were deported under Title 42, meaning most of the rest are here indefinitely.

The Times claims that the US cannot send them back to Venezuela – with which the US lacks diplomatic relations – but that claim glosses over the fact that as The Washington Post reported in Januaryhad Biden struck a deal with Colombia to take back Venezuelans who had resettled there.

Two million displaced Venezuelans have moved to Colombia, and more than a few likely entered illegally. However, it does not appear that DHS sent many back or even asked apprehended Venezuelans where they lived before coming here.

I’m sympathetic to DC and New York City, but I’ve talked to officials in the much poorer border cities about their struggle to meet the costs. Maybe now that Democrats are complaining, the administration will finally pay attention.

Andrew Arthur, a former INS associate attorney general, congressional staffer and director of staff, and immigration judge, is the Center for Immigration Studies’ resident fellow in law and policy.

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Javed Iqbal

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