How bad is the border problem? In a press conference in May, Abbott claimed that Biden’s “open-border policies” had led to an increase in fentanyl crossing the border, as well as unauthorized crossings by migrants. (Fentanyl seizures along the southern border have been rising since 2016.) This year, Customs and Border Protection has already crossed the 20-year watermark for arrests on the border. In the first half of 2021, Border Patrol apprehended over 900,000 people, more than in the entirety of 2019 during the last significant uptick in migration. But more apprehensions does not necessarily mean there are more individuals crossing into the U.S. (more on that later).
Can officers from Nebraska or Iowa actually arrest unauthorized immigrants in another state? It remains unclear. State police and National Guard—from any state, under any orders—have zero jurisdiction to enforce federal immigration policy. Only CBP (on the border) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (in the interior) can do that. So there’s a strong legal argument that a Florida Highway Patrol officer taking someone into custody for crossing the border illegally could be guilty of false arrest or unlawful detention.
Is that even allowed? A state lawmaker says it’s legal, but security experts have called the moved unethical and dangerous. “You certainly don’t want our national security priorities up to the highest bidder,” Mandy Smithberger of the Project on Government Oversight told the Washington Post.
Why are more people crossing the border? It might sound confusing, but actually they’re not. Even though apprehensions are way up, the actual number of unique individuals crossing the border is believed to be much lower. Not everyone who crosses the border gets caught or apprehended, but many of the people who attempt to cross the border try and get caught multiple times (CBP calls this “recidivism”). And experts suggest we may be seeing the highest-ever recidivism rate this year.
Why are more people coming to cross the border? Is that because of Biden? Biden took office with a more welcoming rhetoric towards migrants, and that may very well have encouraged some people to attempt to cross the border. But the current uptick in the number of people arriving actually began months before Biden became president, and there are, of course, many factors: Multiple hurricanes ravaged Central America in November; the Covid pandemic has intensified poverty and gangs’ efforts at extortion; cartel violence in Mexico is at record-high levels; and political crisis in Haiti has erupted in street violence, to name a few of the “root causes.”
It’s all about appearing to be tough. Pure PR.