Border Crisis Creeping Into Front Page News

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonder and Home. Andrew is the host of Heard Tell podcast.

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50 Responses

  1. LTL FTC says:

    I wish to scour the land to find a single soul this surprises.Report

  2. InMD says:

    ‘Famine in Soviet Ukraine Concerns People’s Ministry of Agriculture.’

    Seriously the angle the article takes is so odd and telling about how disconnected the media is. This is a major failure of the federal government to manage one of its most basic responsibilities yet the emphasis is on the threat of Republicans turning into a wedge issue. The entire thing is written with a bizarre agnosticism about the administration’s authority over the situation. Like is the bigger problem that our government persistently fails to deal with this or that McCarthy is going to try and make hay on it? Not that any of us should be surprised what the WaPo thinks but you’d think they’d at least try to avoid this level of self-parody on the front page.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to InMD says:

      Culture warriors gotta… you know… fight a culture war.Report

    • veronica d in reply to InMD says:

      I think it cuts both way. Using terms like “upheaval” and “surge” paint a kind of image that I doubt it accurate.

      It’s unsurprising that we would see an increase in crossings post-Trump — in the sense that being draconian probably works. When you stop being draconian, those who were waiting will all come at once. I would expect things to steady out in the coming months.Report

      • InMD in reply to veronica d says:

        There’s certainly a relative aspect to it but again, that’s something the report doesn’t address. The difference over time in number of people arriving/being caught attempting to cross doesn’t tell you a lot without a basic idea of capacity. So maybe you’re right, and it’s quite manageable but it’d also possible those numbers really do overwhelm the system. I get the sense that the reporter doesn’t actually know.Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to InMD says:

      Its only a “crisis” because its a wedge issue.

      We could, for example, simply register every person at the border, then allow them to move freely and find their own accommodations while their permanent paperwork, whether visa or citizenship, is sorted out.

      Except a big portion of the country would lose their minds because, ermagerd, brown people..

      So, its a “crisis” and a “failing”.Report

      • InMD in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        Chip, that assumes that your side has won a debate it hasn’t. Even if for the sake of argument it is the best policy decision it needs to be adopted and effectuated by the government. The problem is there has been no decision and there is no way to look at that and the results of it as anything but a massive failure.Report

        • Philip H in reply to InMD says:

          How would you achieve such a “decision?” and why do you say there has been no “decision?”

          There are 11 million-ish undocumented migrants here now, contributing to our economy. Seems tome a decision was made, just not announced with great fanfare and glee.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        Open borders/modern day Ellis Island only really appeals to a small portion of very online libertarians and liberals. Most non-online people will find this argument preposterous no matter what their politics are. The issue with immigration is that the anti-immigrant side is united but the pro-immigrant side is divided between a bunch of different ideas on the purpose of immigration, which can range from a human right to live wherever to increasing the strength of the nation, and what a fair and just immigration system looks like.

        I’m sympathetic to the open borders/modern day Ellis Island approach but I think governments have greater administrative capacity these days. This leads to a demand for more paperwork because it is possible among other things. There is also the point that arguing for 19th century immigration policies is like arguing for 19th century environmental policies to a lot of people.Report

        • Chip Daniels in reply to LeeEsq says:

          This is very true, but the underlying premise is that the proper government policy is to act as a barrier and chokepoint to immigrants, rather than a facilitator and regulator.

          Which creates the very “failure” at issue here. There is a “crisis” because large numbers of people are overcrowding the border facilities. This is a “failure” to…um…to do what, exactly?

          What policy would result in lower flows of people heading to America? What policy would simultaneously restrict their entry, while not overcrowding the facilities?

          “Closed” borders are as much a fantasy as “open” borders.Report

          • Philip H in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            the underlying premise is that the proper government policy is to act as a barrier and chokepoint to immigrants, rather than a facilitator and regulator.

            Funny, but thats what we used to do:

            The Bracero program (from the Spanish term bracero, meaning “manual laborer” or “one who works using his arms”) was a series of laws and diplomatic agreements, initiated on August 4, 1942, when the United States signed the Mexican Farm Labor Agreement with Mexico.[1] For these farmworkers, the agreement guaranteed decent living conditions (sanitation, adequate shelter and food), and a minimum wage of 30 cents an hour, as well as protections from forced military service, and guaranteed part of wages were to be put into a private savings account in Mexico; it also allowed the importation of contract laborers from Guam as a temporary measure during the early phases of World War II.[2]

            The agreement was extended with the Migrant Labor Agreement of 1951, enacted as an amendment to the Agricultural Act of 1949 (Public Law 78) by Congress,[3] which set the official parameters for the bracero program until its termination in 1964.[4]

            A 2018 study published in the American Economic Review found that the Bracero program did not have any adverse impact on the labor market outcomes of American-born farm workers.[5] The end of the Bracero program did not raise wages or employment for American-born farm workers.[5]


        • InMD in reply to LeeEsq says:

          The burden of persuasion needs to be on people who see an upside to American citizens (not foreigners) for flooding the US market with low skilled labor. And the dirty little secret is that if that labor ever becomes legalized it is no longer going to be cost competitive which eliminates the economic case for it, cynical as that case is to begin with.

          Now I’m of the merit-based, strengthen the nation mindset but that is certainly my case to make, which I don’t think it has been, even if it is far sounder than open borders.Report

          • Philip H in reply to InMD says:

            well then your beef is not with Democrats in the White House or Capitol Hill – its with the numerous employers (many of which are rather large corporate entities) who employ these people. If they cease doing so most of those migrants would have to make other arrangements. But that’s not how we do it here, as you may have noticed.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Philip H says:

              Is e-verify on the table?Report

            • InMD in reply to Philip H says:

              Where did I say my beef was with Democrats?Report

            • North in reply to Philip H says:

              Why would they stop employing them? They’re cheap and you can make them do anything you want because what are they gonna do; call OSHA? Businesses that left that money lying on the table would be driven out of business by their competitors who didn’t.

              The brutal reality is that the status quos has a very strong constituency on both the right and left. On the right they like the current situation; nearly unrestricted supplies of immigrants that employers can treat like crap in their factories, farms and food processing facilities; on the left they like the current situation; nearly unrestricted immigrants that liberals can feel good about hosting and employ for nickels as cheap nannies, housekeepers and landscapers.

              We could stop the vast majority of illegal immigration and we could do it easily and humanely; we just don’t want to, left or right.Report

              • Philip H in reply to North says:

                The left very much wants to – by making their entry into the US legal and easy. That Bracero Program model I linked to above seems pretty straightforward to me.

                Ironically its the right – with its outsized political influence to states represented in the Senate – who seem to like things just fine. Not only do their agricultural and construction industry donors get cheap reliable labor, but they get a wedge issue to campaign on but never fix (not unlike abortion FWIW).Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to InMD says:

            A decision on this HAS been reached.

            The marketplace, and various Congresses have decided that consumer goods will be made by foreign workers. The decision was open and blunt that lower prices for consumer goods was the primary goal of economic policy.

            The only question left is whether those workers are making those goods in their home countries, or here in the US.Report

            • InMD in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              If they chose not to decide they still have made a choice? What is this the Geddy Lee theory of government? Give me a break.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to InMD says:

                Immigration is a “crisis” similar to the homeless “crisis”;

                Everyone wants a solution, they just can’t articulate what it might be, mostly because any solution would involve accepting things that are very painful.Report

              • North in reply to InMD says:

                Sure, it’s called the filibuster. It’s used to choose not to decide on liberal policy preferences all the time. On the subject of immigration the gridlock happens to cut… somewhat… in the direction of liberal policy preferences.Report

              • InMD in reply to North says:

                Ehhh I hear you (and Chip) but color me unconvinced. There’s a difference between picking a policy and trying to implement it, even if imperfectly, and perpetual indecision. I don’t think it’s useful to equate the two even if a lot of that kind of thinking is floating around.Report

              • North in reply to InMD says:

                I dunno, it could be useful to highlight it and highlight the filibuster. It’s one of the few areas where the filibuster cuts against the populist right (the plutocrat right, of course, loves it unreservedly).Report

              • InMD in reply to North says:

                True, but this is just one of many issues where we have paralysis. I guess, in a certain way, our leaders are chosing it in how they structure the rules, etc. but saying it’s the same as legislating or even legislating badly IMO is to give them a pass. They are there to make decisions not engage in a bunch of game theories of non-decision making.Report

              • Philip H in reply to InMD says:

                UM yeah – not so much. The Senate loves to debate and not decide, and decide to not debate. There were something like 500 bills sent from the House to the Senate last Congress that Mitch McConnell decided to do nothing with, including several on immigration reform.Report

              • InMD in reply to Philip H says:

                And you consider this a good thing?Report

              • Philip H in reply to InMD says:

                NO. I don’t consider it a good thing. But its what they choose to do, and by and large we keep sending them back to do it. We made a choice in electing and reelecting people who behave this way. They thus continue to make a choice to do nothing.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to InMD says:

                This is what I am referring to, the crisis created by our own policy choices.

                Take your complaint about foreigners ” flooding the US market with low skilled labor.”

                What could be one policy solution?
                Well, one solution is to choke off all imported labor;

                Then what happens?

                Those jobs are filled by Americans?
                Of course not.
                The jobs would follow the cheapest labor source (that whole Econ 101 thing the kids are all talking about). So the goods would just be made in other nations, not America.

                Another solution might be raising the price of labor to where it is as cheap to hire an American as a foreigner.
                Then what happens?
                Well, the price of goods rises- Econ 101, yadda yadda.

                Oh, but what ho- With either solution, now imported goods are decimating our industries- so we need to choke off not only imported labor, but imported goods as well, effectively coercing Americans to buy American goods made by American workers.

                Maybe that would work! I don’t really know.
                But I do know it is a solution that is impossible to enact.

                It isn’t just our leaders who are paralyzed- it is us, the citizens, who aren’t willing to entertain the consequences of our own choices.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I’m pretty sure that restating “undocumented dreamers who just want a better life for themselves and their families willing to work under the table to achieve it” as “foreigners flooding the US market with low skilled labor” is misrestating it.

                There are a handful of studies that have shown that, for the most part, undocumented dreamers who just want a better life for themselves and their families don’t have an impact on wages *EXCEPT* for on the low-wage side already.

                Here’s a quotation from the most recent study done on it:

                Consequently, immigration has exerted downward pressure on the wages of relatively low-skilled workers who are already in the country, regardless of their birthplace.

                The question of whether this is a problem is up in the air, of course. By arguing that we need to raise the minimum wage, we could increase the costs of the businesses that hire people legally and not do much to the businesses that are willing to pay undocumented wages.

                If you see this as a good thing (it’s not obvious that it’s a bad thing! It’s got no downsides for me and mine, anyway), then there’s no problem with maintaining the status quo.

                It’s not like Biden is *HARMING* the undocumented dreamers who just want a better life for themselves and their families. They’re just being detained for a little bit before they can start benefiting me and mine.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                Well of course.
                Having access to cheaper forms of labor DOES put downward pressure on wages- that’s what I’ve been saying here routinely for years.

                It doesn’t matter if the cheaper labor is an immigrant down the street or a foreign worker on the other side of the border, or even a robot. Cheaper labor is something everyone has to compete with.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Hey, as skilled labor, I benefit from lower wages for relatively unskilled labor.

                H1B visas? Well, I have a lot of nuanced opinions on those. Personally, I think that they should be not be tied to any particular company. The immigrants who get their hands on one of them should be able to shop around and work for any company that would hire them!Report

              • InMD in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Most of this response doesn’t make any sense outside of maybe agriculture. Illegal immigrants are mostly in the service and construction industries that can’t be outsourced. You can’t mow a lawn or babysit or flip a burger or build an office building from another country. It has to be done here which is why they come here to do it.

                You also skip over the real tension, which is the cost of doing business in America, inclusive of things like worker safety, environmental protection, etc. Now I never took you for a de-regulator but that’s what you’re arguing for here, the economic necessity of eliminating labor protections. I mean, by your same logic, why not just get rid of all of those things altogether?Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to InMD says:

                If anyone here thinks they aren’t competing with a foreign worker, they are sadly mistaken.

                What the pandemic has proved, is that your job can be done by you in your dining room, or another guy in his dining room in New Delhi.

                Your first paragraph just deals with my Solution 1, which was to choke off the supply of cheap labor.
                But of course, then what?

                Do Americans flood into the low wage jobs? Then what happens?
                No one ever wants to answer that question because, as I keep saying, the answer is more painful than the status quo.

                No one who ever rails about the “cost of doing business” ever has the receipts to go with that. The hunt for the Dept. of Wastenfraud remains as elusive as the hunt for voter fraud.Report

              • InMD in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I agree that we’re all competing with foreign workers but there are real policy questions about how to do that effectively. Our immigration policy is of immense importance in how we shape up, and yet our system doesn’t at all prioritize it. I say that’s a huge problem, others seem to disagree.Report

              • Philip H in reply to InMD says:

                Most here say its a huge problem. We also have differing ideas about how to solve it.

                The House has seen it as a huge problem and delivered several partial and comprehensive reform packages to the Senate in the last decade. Senate Republicans have decided to do little about it other then turn the other way when DoD funds were usurped for building a wall.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I’m always interested in seeing what happens to wages when we get closer to “full employment”.

                If employers say “we can’t hire anybody!” and the followup question “are you offering better pay or bennies or something?” gets asked, I’m always fascinated to see what the answer is.

                “We’re offering a $20 Subway Gift Card as a signing bonus!”

                “And people still aren’t lining up to work for you?”

                Anyway, unemployment is a lot higher now, after the pandemic. We won’t have to worry about employers complaining that nobody is willing to work for them.

                Man, you get sick of hearing that in a hurry, I tell you what.Report

            • LeeEsq in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              Americans will find that the price of nearly everything is going to sky rocket without cheap, exploitable immigrant labor.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:


                They’re *HAPPY* to work for those wages. They walked across Mexico and a desert to work for them!

                It’s not exploiting them to give them what they walked across a desert to get.

                Some would say that it’s cruel to deny it to them.Report

  3. Jaybird says:

    Are things worse today than when AOC had her photo op in front of that parking lot?

    If not, what’s the problem?

    If so, what changed?Report

    • North in reply to Jaybird says:

      AOC? Probably no change at all since she’s a single congresscritter with no leadership role in her party standing in a parking lot.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to North says:

        I’m not suggesting AOC do anything but asking if the “crisis” today is any different (better or worse) than when we all knew that it was a for-real crisis.Report

        • North in reply to Jaybird says:

          I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that you already knew the answer was “no different”.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to North says:

            Then there is a problem with the article not giving very important context.

            From the article:

            Border arrests and detentions during the final months of the Trump presidency rose to some of the highest levels in a decade, but illegal crossings have skyrocketed since Biden took office. In February, detentions topped 100,000, a 28 percent increase from the previous month, and March is on pace for an even larger surge, with more than 4,000 border apprehensions each day, according to the latest U.S. Customs and Border Protection figures.

            What does “skyrocketed” mean? “Some of the highest levels in a decade”? What does *THAT* mean?Report