Tensions on the border

Conor Kelly (TheLorian)

Border security was a key component of Trump’s administration, much to the chagrin of many immigration activists, as the former president took firm stances that were controversial in their application. As the new administration takes control, the security and humanitarian concerns that plagued the previous president remain unsolved. All the while, the Biden administration is faced with the challenges of making a broken migration system work without being associated with his controversial predecessor. However, with the recent rise in migrants, that goal seems even more difficult to achieve. 

On Friday, The New York Times reported that at least 170,000 migrants were taken into custody by border officials last month, a rise of 70 percent compared to detainee numbers in February. One of the more concerning sources of migrants lies in unaccompanied minors, with 18,700 of these children being taken into custody in the previous month. However, migration is rising across the board, as the number of families attempting to enter the United States has also increased, totaling 53,000 migrants compared to 19,250 migrants in the previous month. 

The numbers are similar to that of migration numbers in 2019, in which the Trump administration struggled to adequately provide care to these migrants as they waited for their cases to be processed. Biden is now faced with a similar problem, keeping some of his predecessor’s policies. Under Biden, title 42, a provision that allowed border agents to turn away migrants without hearing their reason for seeking asylum has been left in place. And though President Biden has opposed keeping children separated and promised smooth transitions in migrant processing, numerous problems remain.

In Donna, Texas, one holding facility is holding 16 times its recommended capacity, and detention centers that are meant to hold people for a maximum of three days are holding them over the maximum amount of time, some being held as long as 15 days.  Biden has pushed back against criticism, arguing that these increases are seasonal.

However, critics of the Biden administration, such as GOP Rep. Michael McCaul, have pushed back, saying: “They have created this crisis of children coming,” and “The traffickers are smart, that “cartels are smart. They know our laws, policies. And this started right after the election. In the last two months, we’ve seen a real surge.”

All of this culminates in a tension that will likely boil into more partisan conflict but with increased efforts to improve the immigration system, neither the Biden administration nor future administrations will view immigration in the same way ever again.

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Conor J. Kelly was the Opinion Editor for the Lorian and a prolific staff writer. He graduated from Loras College in April of 2021 and is now pursuing his master's in political science at the University of Illinois, Springfield. You can find his new work on The Progressive American newsletter.

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