‘Broken Border’: Texas migrant crisis

Cade Spencer, Editor-in-Chief

Designated along the natural flow of the Rio Grande River, the Texas-Mexico border has a total length of 1,254 miles. Within the significant expanse of the border, there are 649 miles of physical barriers, constructed as facets of Former President Donald Trump’s border wall, 28 international bridges, and 25 designated crossing for commercial, vehicular, and pedestrian traffic. 

Thus far in 2021, rates of immigration at the Texas-Mexico border have surpassed the immigration rates of the past 21 years, leading to a crisis situation deemed as a “Broken Border” by the Texas Tribune. 

“The current reality of immigration at the Texas border makes me feel that the United States government is ignoring some of our nation’s core values,” senior Kobie Hernandez  said. “They want to say that said. “We say we are prosperous and the best country in the world, and yet we make it harder for other immigrants to share our wealth by making the process more difficult.”

As reported by the Texas Tribune, 178,622 migrants were taken into custody after attempted border crossings by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in the month of April 2021. Out of those in custody, an estimated 67,000 migrants were allowed to remain in the country for further processing.

“Families who leave their home and uproot their family are almost always in search of a better life for themselves and/or their family,” U.S. Government teacher Dalton Pool said. “The most recent influx [of migrants] has to do with the devastating conditions in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Most of the migrants are from these countries and are either fleeing because of high rates of violence and crime, and/or a lack of economic opportunity.”

Currently, the Biden administration has allowed for unaccompanied minors, families with children seven years of age or younger, and certain individuals in search of political asylum to remain in the country when detained at the border. In the month of April 2021, 17,200 unattended minors were recorded at the border.  

“Minors who are unaccompanied migrants should get preference to adults,” senior Nick Van Lente said. “Typically, when minors appear at the border, they are rejoining family members in the U.S. who are desperately trying to get into contact and connection with them. Forcing these children to jump through several bureaucratic loopholes in a language they likely do not even speak is beyond cruel and unusual.”

In the month of February, President Joe Biden signed an executive order that ended former President Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” program, which had required political asylum seekers to remain in Mexico border towns until their case was complete. The executive order has allowed for 25,000 potential asylum seekers to prepare to enter the country, with around 10,200 migrants entering under the program thus far. 

“I think that the most pressing issue at the border that needs to be addressed is the inadequate care that we provide for asylum seekers,” Hernandez said. “Our government needs to provide more help and resources to immigrants who are escaping situations because they need the extra care; they have given up everything to be here and need our help.”

In the face of unprecedented rates of immigration, the institutions over Texas immigration have had to adjust their processes to COVID-19 health guidelines, requiring that all incoming immigrants undergo COVID-19 examinations. Under Title 42, a federal public health and welfare code, former President Trump was able to deport 733,830 migrants to align with COVID-19 protocols. 

“COVID-19 should not affect the amount of immigrants we accept per se, but it should change the way those migrants are handled and processed,” Van Lente said. “With widespread PPE and medical attention, allowing migrants into the country (or into Health and Humans Services, HHS, centers) does not have to be a risk. If migrants are given access to testing, and vaccines, a streamlined process can occur without widespread transmission.”

Under Biden’s administration, the Title 42 health clause has remained active, employed to reduce the accepted migration of individual migrants and families. Throughout April 2021, federal officers returned 110,000 migrants under Title 42. 

“Many Americans, including myself, have ancestors who fled a struggling situation abroad and came to America looking for a better life. The vast majority of migrants also fall into that category,” Pool said. “While safety and security should always be priority number one when it comes to our border, we should strive to keep crime and criminals out without compromising our founding principles and miscasting thousands of desperate individuals.”

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency predicts there will be 150,000 children and families in need of asylum assistance at the border within the next two years. 

“When people talk about immigration in broad strokes, it seems like more of an abstract subject than a phenomenon that is essentially a life or death sentence for real human beings,” Van Lente said. “The U.S. is really good at having a chronic lack of empathy in its policy, and it is time that finally changes.”