U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has not yet published numbers on the agency’s “encounters” — migrant apprehensions by Border Patrol and aliens deemed inadmissible by CBP officers at the ports of entry — at the Southwest border in April. That’s a problem because those numbers are the only true gauge of whether, as President Biden has asserted, his administration has “gotten control” of the situation there.
My May 10 post captioned “Reports: Biden Not Keeping Border Governors in the Loop on the Crisis in Their Communities” analyzed complaints by two border-state governors (Greg Abbott (R-Texas) and Doug Ducey (R-Ariz.)) about the Biden team’s failure to communicate with them on the federal government’s efforts to control the border between their states and Mexico.
If those complaints are true, as I explained, it’s a problem because the states in question (Texas and Arizona) are “Ground Zero” for chaos at the border. They feel the effects most acutely, and if chaos continues to reign, most chronically, as well.
Their state troopers will have to be on watch for not just human smugglers, but human traffickers as well. Aliens willingly submit themselves to smuggling (and most pay handsomely for that service), but traffickers move people — in this case aliens — against their will, and generally for purposes of exploitation (sexual or otherwise, including for forced labor). Both are dangerous enterprises.
Those state officials also have to be on the lookout for drug traffickers moving “loads” on highways in the Lone Star and Grand Canyon States.
The routes out of those states and into the interior are long, and here’s a law-enforcement secret you probably already know: Most drug smugglers don’t want to be caught (20 years in jail is a long sentence, and their cartel bosses have short tempers), meaning that the threat of violence during a drug-related police stop is high.
Plus Texas and Arizona hospitals have to treat sick and injured migrants, and given the fact that illegal entry is a “Hunger Games”-like trek, many migrants arrive sick and injured. State health officials, doctors, nurses, and emergency medical technicians have to be prepared for an onslaught if one is coming or occurring.
You and I deserve to be “in the loop” as well. The Biden administration has adopted immigration policies that are the mirror opposite of the Trump administration’s, largely based on the premise that Trump’s immigration policies were cruel and ineffective.
I dispute in large part the latter, but the former is open to debate. To have that debate, however, we need to have statistics. CBP’s “Southwest Land Border Encounters” are the first and best statistics compiled on illegal migrants, and a harbinger of downstream effects of illegal immigration on our schools, communities, and economy.
My job as a researcher is to look at those numbers and to assess the effectiveness of the current administration’s immigration policy (in this case, not just in contrast to the previous administration’s policy, but all relevant preceding ones, as well).
If we don’t have the statistics, I cannot do that analysis and we cannot have the debate.
CBP should be capturing these numbers in real time, and have them ready for publication on the first day of the new month (at best) or a couple days after (at worst). If they can’t do that, it suggests that there are two more ominous problems in the system, one practical and one political.
The practical problem would be if CBP is so overwhelmed that the agency can’t keep track of all the migrants entering the United States illegally. That is the opposite of border “control”, and the implications for national security, to say nothing of national sovereignty, are dire.
The political problem is if the Biden administration knows that the numbers are so bad that it is deliberately hiding the statistics, possibly for a Friday-night “data dump”, or possibly to give the president’s team time to spin the numbers or balance them out with more positive reporting.
With respect to proof of the latter, go back to that May 10 post.
As I noted therein, on May 2, DHS sent out photos from its processing facility in Donna, Texas, under the header “DHS Action on the Southwest Border Yields Results”. Those pictures show largely empty tents, in stark contrast to earlier photos from that facility on March 17 that showed children wrapped in Mylar blankets in tightly packed rows.
Those latest pictures are “propaganda” in the truest sense of the word. Britannica defines the term as the “dissemination of information — facts, arguments, rumors, half-truths, or lies — to influence public opinion”.
Note that not all “propaganda” is false. The controlling factor is whether information is disseminated “to influence public opinion”. The header on those pictures (again, “DHS Action on the Southwest Border Yields Results”) shows them to be “propaganda” as much as crop-yield reporting in Pravda was “propaganda” to promote old Soviet “Five-Year Plans” .
And, like reporting on the latest wheat crop in Stalin’s USSR, maybe those pictures tell the whole story and maybe they don’t. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), for one, contends (vehemently) they don’t.
That is why we need CBP to publish its numbers on “Southwest Land Border Encounters” in a timely manner: So we as citizens can assess the truth for ourselves. While there is no excuse for delay in their publication, that delay itself may be hiding some larger (and more uncomfortable) truths about CBP’s — and the president’s — handling of the border.