More Illegal Migrants Came from Farther Away to the Border in July

Before we get to ‘Omega’ Covid, Biden needs to gain ‘operational control’ of the border, as the law requires

By Andrew R. Arthur on August 16, 2021

In a recent post, I explained that the situation at the border is deteriorating, rapidly. Border Patrol apprehensions have broken 21-year-old monthly records, and apprehension numbers for the fiscal year (with two months yet to go) have already exceeded yearly totals for the last two decades. The problem will only get worse, because news is spreading around the world that the border is wide open.

Last month, the Border Patrol apprehended almost 200,000 illegal migrants at the Southwest border. That is bad, because as I explained in my last post, it’s more apprehensions in a single month than any month since March 2000.

Here is why that number is worse than it appears: 57,094 of migrants apprehended by the Border Patrol (more than a quarter of the total) were not from the traditional “source” countries of Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras (the latter three known collectively as the “Northern Triangle”). They were from somewhere else.

Ecuador leads the pack of the “also rans”. Last month, Border Patrol at the Southwest border apprehended 17,239 Ecuadorean nationals, up from 2,196 in October, a 10-month increase of 779 percent. It’s also more than 48 percent higher than in May (11,691), traditionally the busiest month for illegal migration.

Then, there is Nicaragua. In July, 13,308 Nicaraguan nationals were apprehended by Border Patrol after entering illegally along the U.S.-Mexico border. For context, just 253 Nicaraguans were apprehended by Border Patrol along the entire Southwest border in October, meaning that illegal migration from the country has increased 5,160 percent in just 10 months.

For comparisons sake, last July just 104 Nicaraguans were apprehended at the Southwest border. Thus, year-to-year apprehensions have increased 127-fold.

This is not a surprise to me. As I noted in an August 12 post, much of the immigration enforcement that is being carried out in the Del Rio Sector (from which I recently returned) is being done by the Texas Department of Public Safety under the state’s “Operation Lone Star”.

Two Texas state troopers told me they had apprehended a group of 10 Nicaraguans the week before, and that Border Patrol had nabbed 10 more the same day. All 20 were on their way to work at the same dairy in Wisconsin.

Those 20 Nicaraguans are likely milking cows in the Badger State right now, because of the 13,000-plus Nicaraguans who were apprehended in July, just 839 (6.3 percent) were expelled under Title 42. The other 93-plus percent were almost definitely released and headed into the heartland.

More Colombians are finding out about the administration’s open-door policy at the Southwest border. Last month, 704 of them were apprehended there. That may not seem like a lot in the grand scheme, but it is a 2,960 percent increase over October (23 apprehensions), and 44 times as many as the same month a year before, when 16 Colombians were apprehended.

Migration follows predictable patterns. Once word gets out in any country that entry into the United States is as simple as crossing the river, finding a Border Patrol agent (or a state trooper; they can catch migrants, but they usually must hand them over to DHS for processing), answering some questions, and getting a bus ticket, it’s just a matter of hiring a smuggler and setting out.

Curiously, apprehensions of illegal migrants from Cuba rose only slightly, and apprehensions from Haiti actually dropped in July from the month before.

Last month, Border Patrol apprehended 3,447 Cubans, 477 more than in June, but more than 2,200 fewer than in March.

The 5,658 Cubans who were apprehended in March were probably waiting for the Biden administration to end the Migrant Protection Protocols (“MPP”, better known as “Remain in Mexico”) that successfully discouraged illegal entries under the Trump administration.

When I was in the MPP “port court” in Laredo last January, a large number of the respondents I saw who had been paroled for hearings under MPP were from Cuba. A number of the recently arrived illegal migrants I saw trudging up the dirt road from the banks of the Rio Grande this week in Del Rio were Cubans as well, suggesting that the upturn in Cuban illegal entries has just begun.

As for the Haitians, 4,989 of them were apprehended by the Border Patrol at the Southwest border in July. That’s 703 fewer than in June, but there has been a lot of up-and-down in Haitian entries this year, which went from 823 in February to almost 3,100 in March, then to 1,245 in April, and so on.

As my colleague Todd Bensman explained in reporting from Costa Rica in July, “every U.S.-bound Haitian that CIS met here — more than two dozen — said they had lived and worked in the safety, security, and prosperity of Santiago, Chile’s capital, for four, five, or even six years.”

That was confirmed by my examination of trash that I found on the riverbank in Del Rio. I spotted any number of “cedulas” issued by the Chilean government to Haitian nationals. These are high-quality documents (similar in appearance to U.S. green cards, and with many of the same security features), which allow the holder to live in Chile.

Why would the lawful holders discard them? Because those Haitians don’t want DHS to know that they are firmly resettled in Chile. If those documents were found on their holders by Border Patrol, it would sink their (inevitable) asylum claims.

That said, Border Patrol could just go and retrieve them — the documents were discarded, and there for the taking. Agents are — almost definitely — too overwhelmed just processing and caring for migrants to do so, though. The fraud just follows.

Speaking of Chile, CBP provides a list of 20 different nationalities for illegal entrants on its website. Chileans don’t make that cut, falling under the heading of “other” (down by two in July from the month before, to 2,211 apprehensions).

Which brings me to Covid. It’s hot news right now, with the “Delta variant” of SARS-CoV-2 tearing through the United States. Already, however, there is a new variant to be concerned about, the “Lambda variant” of the coronavirus. It was first identified in Peru in December.

Lambda has been described by one researcher as “more transmissible than what you would call the grandparent strains of the original coronavirus”, and at least one study suggests that it could be vaccine-resistant.

On July 14, National Geographic reported that Lambda was “causing almost all new infections in Peru” (also not on CBP’s list), and according to Forbes, it’s now “the dominant variant in Argentina, Chile, and Colombia”.

In late July, there were fewer than 700 cases of the variant in the United States, but as of August 13, 152 cases of Lambda were reported in California alone, and about 911 total in this country.

Quoting one expert, USA Today reported in July:

Lambda may have become so widespread in parts of South America largely because of a ‘founder effect,’ ... wherein a few cases of the variant first took hold in a densely populated and geographically restricted area and slowly became the primary driver for the spread locally over time.

Respectfully, I don’t want to find out how transmissible the Lambda variant is, or whether it is resistant to the vaccine type I received.

That’s why the growing number of migrants entering illegally who aren’t from Mexico or the Northern Triangle (and who increasingly are not being expelled under Title 42 orders issued by the CDC to control the spread of Covid here) is a particular problem.

Covid has spread all over the world. New variants are popping up from South Africa (Beta) to Brazil (Gamma) to India (Kappa). The Biden border disaster is now taking all comers and allowing them to remain here at a mounting rate. Once a group of nationals realizes how easy illegal entry is, their fellow countrymen follow, in larger numbers. Before the Omega variant is on everyone’s (masked) lips from McAllen to Maine, the administration needs to gain “operational control” of the border by preventing “all unlawful entries into the United States” — as the law requires.