Democratic Mayors and Governors Begin To Push Back as Migrant Crossings Soar

New data from Immigration and Customs Enforcement shows that deportations are not keeping pace with the historic number of crossings at the border.

AP/Edgar H. Clemente
A caravan of migrants walk along a highway at Huixtla headed toward the United States. AP/Edgar H. Clemente

Illegal crossings at the southern border are overwhelming law enforcement after having risen dramatically in the last year while the number of deportations have failed to keep pace, according to data released by the federal government. The crisis is putting major strains on Democratic mayors and governors across the country who are now pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into housing and food programs for those migrants. 

According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s annual report, the total number of deportations doubled in the last year, but are not keeping pace with the number of migrants crossing every day. In 2023, ICE deported more than 142,000 individuals, compared to just over 70,000 the previous year. In November alone, however, the border patrol encountered more than 242,000 migrants crossing the border illegally.

According to a report from Fox News, December numbers were even higher. Border Patrol officials said the agency registered nearly 300,000 migrant “encounters” since December 1, a figure that would mark the highest monthly total on record.

The number of non-detained migrants in America — meaning those who have been ordered to leave the country but have yet to do so — increased by nearly 70 percent in just the last two years, up to 6.2 million this year from 3.7 million at the end of 2021. 

The agency’s deputy director, Patrick Lechleitner, said in a statement that one of ICE’s main priorities this year was to help in the Department of Homeland Security’s “efforts to stem irregular migration at the Southwest Border, with the components deploying a total of more than 2,500 officers and agents” in the last 12 months. Mr. Lechleitner also said that the spike in deportations was in part due to Title 42, which expired nearly halfway through the year. 

Republicans say the president is responsible for the border crossings and the lack of expulsions. Senator Hagerty said after the report’s release that it was nothing short of a “bombshell.” 

“Despite Biden’s propaganda, the numbers below don’t lie,” he said in a statement. “Biden Admin policy attracts far more illegal aliens yet removes far fewer of them, including criminals and gang members. This is fueling the record-shattering illegal immigration roiling American communities.”

A bipartisan group of Mr. Hagerty’s senate colleagues have in recent weeks been negotiating a border security and immigration reform bill that is tied to an aid package for Ukraine. Even Senator Fetterman, who was celebrated as a progressive hero but has now eschewed the label, said the border crisis is unsustainable. 

“I hope Democrats can understand that it isn’t xenophobic to be concerned about the border,” Mr. Fetterman said in an interview with Politico. “It’s a reasonable conversation, and Democrats should engage.”

“Honestly, it’s astonishing. And this isn’t a Fox News kind of statistic. This is the government’s,” he said. “You essentially have Pittsburgh showing up there at the border” every month.

Meanwhile, outside of the nation’s capital, it’s Democratic executives who are now having to deal with the migrant surge for the first time as opposed to the typically Republican border governors. 

The Democratic governor of Arizona, Katie Hobbs, announced on December 15 that she would deploy the state’s national guard to the border to try to stem the flow of illegal immigration. 

“Yet again, the federal government is refusing to do its job to secure our border and keep our communities safe,” she said in a statement. “Arizona needs resources and manpower to reopen the Lukeville crossing, manage the flow of migrants, and maintain a secure, orderly and humane border. Despite continued requests for assistance, the Biden administration has refused to deliver desperately needed resources to Arizona’s border.”

Mayor Adams of New York has become one of the most famous faces of the crisis as the Texas governor, Greg Abbott, continues to send migrants from the Lone Star State to New York City. On December 27, Mr. Adams signed an executive order that requires charter buses from Texas to provide 32 hours notice before they drop migrants in the city. The buses will also only be allowed to drop the passengers at one specific area at Manhattan and only at certain times. 

“In the last month, the city has begun to see another surge, recording more than 14,700 new arrivals,” Mr. Adams said in a statement. “Last week, 14 rogue buses with migrants arrived from Texas in a single night — the highest one-day total recorded by the Asylum Seeker Arrival Center since last spring — in addition to migrants still arriving via other modes of transportation.”

The New York Sun

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