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Border Crisis: The Partisan Immigration Policy that Backfired

March 2024

Monthly border encounters 2017 thru 2023

You can see that the record-breaking wave of border encounters, in yellow, corresponds perfectly with the advent of the Biden administration. At the first sign of an overflow, the white house dodged culpability by laying the blame on the "root causes" of migration, and assigned Kamala Harris to develop a "root causes strategy" for Central America. This was a clever diversion from the real proximate causes.

Root causes refer to the "push factors" that motivate emigration, such as poverty, violence, and corruption. Although push factors are a relentless force, they did NOT cause the dramatic surge beginning in 2021. The reason is, in the run-up to 2021 there was no significant increase in push factors to account for the dramatic upswing in border encounters. In fact, with the exception of Haiti and Cuba, recent trends in violence, poverty and natural disasters have been flat or downward.

It's not the push; it's the pull of Democratic enticement.

According to a rigorous multivariate analysis by the IMF, the surge was essentially a "wave" phenomenon. A wave refers to a contagious rush to the border that is fueled by the perception of imminent changes in U.S. immigration policy and enforcement. The perception fostered during the Presidential campaign was that a Democratic victory would replace Trumpism with more lenient immigration policies.

Indeed, the promise of compassionate treatment for those who reach the border was broadcast multiple times over national television by Joe Biden and the other Democratic contenders for the Presidency. Hispanics residing in the US texted the good news to their relatives down south. The message resounded throughout Latin America and beyond; and the coyotes used it to recruit clients.

For example, during a televised debate on June 27, 2019, all the candidates said they would extend health coverage to undocumented immigrants. They also promised to decriminalize illegal entry, repeal the "Remain in Mexico" policy, and minimize detention and deportation.

But, the most sensational broadcast occurred on September 2019 when Biden promised to open the border for asylum seekers:

"I would in fact make sure...that we immediately surge to the border all those people seeking asylum."

It's hard to mistake the message: Whatever your real reasons for coming, the ticket to entry is an asylum claim. So come equipped with a story of mortal peril even if your real motivation is economic opportunity.

Once elected, Biden took measures that add-up to a "catch and release" policy; e.g., a moratorium on deportations, unbridled parole, repeal of "remain in Mexico," and a phase-out of detentions.

Foreigners responded to the Democrats' gracious invitation in overwhelming numbers. From January 2021 through December 2023, 2.5 million migrants were released into the country, plus 1.6 million got-aways, for a total of 4.2 million.

This "border crisis" was not an accident of Democrats' reckless campaign rhetoric. Rather, it was the outcome of a deliberate recruitment strategy that turned out to be far more than they wished for. They wanted a modestly larger flow, but what they got was a flood.

The political objective of a permissive immigration policy is obvious: more Democrat-leaning congressional districts, and in the longer run, more Democratic voters.

The Democrats' enticement of asylum seekers is the most recent incarnation of an ongoing strategy of victimhood cultivation. Victimhood is the lifeblood of the Democrat Party. The victims it sweet-talks are both genuine and contrived. Foremost are people of color who, by definition, are victims of white privilege.

But because the political landscape is dynamic, the Party needs to periodically replenish its electoral base with new victims, especially when old allegiances crumble. The obvious example is the defection of the white working class to the Republicans, first as "Reagan Democrats" and now as "Trump Democrats." Typically, they are men without a college degree whom, you may recall, were dismissed as "deplorables" by Hillary Clinton.

So, around 2012, the Party decided to replenish its base by bestowing victimhood on privileged college graduates. They were cast as impoverished victims of crushing student debt. Biden bought their votes with the promise of debt forgiveness worth $400 billion.

Today, immigration is the mechanism for refreshing the Party's electoral base over the long run. The candidates for victimhood are asylum seekers, i.e., foreign victims of economic and social deprivation. These imported victims cannot vote now, but their growing population can lead to a reapportionment of congressional districts in favor of Democrats.

Since current policy minimizes deportations and detentions, the growing pool of got-aways and asylum seekers are likely to remain in America indefinitely, including the majority whose asylum claims will be denied. Studies show that Hispanic immigrants, which are the majority of recent arrivals, gravitate toward places dominated by Hispanics. These places also tend to vote Democrat.

This means that population growth will be disproportionally boosted in states with lots of Hispanic communities. Therefore, when 435 congressional districts reapportioned after the 2030 census, states like California, Washington, Florida, and Texas will have a better chance of gaining (or retaining) an additional district with a bluish complexion.

And by the way, the number of districts in a state determine its votes in the electoral college.

Furthermore, the party is betting on the long run. If it succeeds in legislating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, it will gain 10 to 15 million democrat-leaning voters.

Unlike legal immigration, the illegal variety imposes a net cost on Americans.

The Fiscal Burden of Biden's immigration policy.

The Dems do their best to minimize and obfuscate this cost, but their inability to control the surge has turned the issue into front-page news. For instance, mayor Eric Adams asserts that the $12 billion cost of housing, feeding, and educating migrants will "Destroy New York City." The municipal budgets of Chicago, Denver and other sanctuary cities have been similarly decimated.

A 2024 report from The House Judiciary Committee explains that illegal immigrants receive more in government benefits than they pay in taxes. The principal reason is a typically low level of education. Since this translates into low earnings, they pay fewer taxes, but rely more heavily on government support services. Over a lifetime, the average immigrant will receive $68,000 more in benefits than s/he pays in taxes.

Although Homeland Security estimates that 4.2 million migrants entered the U.S. over the first three years of Biden's term, the census bureau puts the increase at just 2.6 million. Using the conservative figure, Biden's binge at the border will cost American taxpayers about $177 billion.

The burden on American workers in low-skill occupations.

Most academic studies show that immigration overall has no effect on the wages of American born workers. The exception is illegal immigration.

A large influx of poorly educated migrants translates into a larger supply of workers seeking low skill jobs. This stalls, or even depresses, the wages paid to American workers in those jobs. Since African American citizens are overrepresented in low skill occupations, they bare the brunt of wage depression.

In other words, illegal immigration harms the most stalwart supporters of the Democrat party - African Americans. Yet without shame, the Democrat leaders of Sanctuary Cities are willing to throw them under the bus. New York's Kathy Hochul and Eric Adams have publicly demanded expedited work permits for their immigrants guests, the better to bid down the wages of American workers.


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