Immigration policy experts slam ‘misleading’ mainstream reporting on latest border numbers

Immigration policy experts slam ‘misleading’ mainstream reporting on latest border numbers

When Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials in particular have a certain narrative they want to promulgate, they know exactly where to go. Example: the unpublished numbers obtained by The Washington Post this week loudly proclaiming in a headline that “border arrests have soared to all-time high, new CBP data shows.” That predictably resulted in outrage from a number of Republican officials, including House GOP chair Elise Stefanik, Sen. Tim Scott, Sen. Rob Portman—the list goes on and on. But leading immigration policy experts—you know, people who know what they’re actually talking about—slammed the Post for being misleading.

First, the Post’s lede: “U.S. authorities detained more than 1.7 million migrants along the Mexico border during the 2021 fiscal year that ended in September, and arrests by the Border Patrol soared to the highest levels ever recorded, according to unpublished U.S. Customs and Border Protection data obtained by The Washington Post.” A correction notes that “[a] previous version of this article incorrectly said that Border Patrol arrests along the Mexico border reached their highest levels since 1986. Historical data shows fiscal year 2021’s figure was the highest total ever recorded. The article has been corrected.” The original headline appeared to read, “[b]order arrests have soared to highest levels since 1986, new CBP data shows.”

But American Immigration Council Policy Counsel Aaron Reichlin-Melnick noted in an important Twitter thread on Wednesday that the 1.7 million arrests doesn’t actually equal 1.7 million different people. He wrote, “the actual number of migrants coming to the border was ~1.1 million.” This difference in numbers stems from the fact that some asylum-seekers have attempted to again cross after being quickly deported under the unjust Title 42 policy, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) policy implemented by the prior administration that has used the pandemic as an excuse to quickly deport asylum-seekers. Not until late in the piece are repeat crossings acknowledged. National Immigration Forum tweeted the policy “has contributed to an increase in repeat crossing attempts,” and “has inflated the numbers of border encounters and created a perception of chaos.”

That vulnerable asylum-seekers would attempt to again seek safety in the U.S. shouldn’t be at all surprising when you remember these are people fleeing for their lives only to be unjustly blocked from their rights. Again, not until late in the Post’s piece is there mention that the majority of people taken into custody are quickly deported under the inhumane policy. “Of the 1.7 million detained during the 2021 fiscal year, 61 percent were expelled under Title 42, the CBP data shows,” the report said.

“A majority of encounters at the border this year led to immediate expulsions—that is, migrants being sent back to Mexico or their home countries, w/o access to the U.S. asylum system,” Migration Policy Institute Associate Policy Analyst Jessica Bolter tweeted. “That is, a majority of the encounters did NOT result in people entering the U.S.” Reichlin-Melnick wrote that “many people will falsely read the headline to imply that 1.7 million migrants were released into the US.” He included American Immigration Council data showing that the majority of people detained are either quickly deported or cruelly thrown into detention:

Reichlin-Melnick wrote in another thread that the 1.7 million number “inflates the number of PEOPLE crossing. That’s thanks to Title 42, which has led to the highest level of repeat crossers ever recorded.” Former CBP agent turned whistleblower Jenn Budd noted in her Twitter thread that CBP will gladly use misleading numbers to try to get even more funding. Because that’s just what this lawless agency needs, right? She further notes that “other years where apprehensions were at this same level.”

Asylum-seekers detained under Title 42 “are not given any opportunity to contest their expulsion on the grounds that they would face persecution in the country to which they will be expelled,” American Immigration Council said earlier this month. While there are “extraordinarily limited” exceptions, few are able to actually go forward to pursue their claims, the organization said. “From March 2020 through September 2021, just 3,217 people were screened for torture prior to being expelled, and only 272 people were taken out of Title 42 and permitted to seek asylum.” Adding to this senselessness is that solely portraying vulnerable people as numbers and figures, as a lot of mainstream reporting tends to do, erases their humanity. That’s on purpose. They have rights, but we are not honoring those rights.

A number of former CDC experts have been among the latest voices calling on the Biden administration to end the policy, which was implemented under political pressure by the previous administration. The pubic health experts in their recommendation to the Biden administration called the policy “pseudoscientific and discriminatory.” Yet Chris Mangus, the president’s nominee to head CBP, voiced support for continuing the policy during a Senate hearing this week

“When public health policy is subverted to serve political agendas, or to exclude, control, or discriminate against certain groups, we are all at risk,” the public health experts wrote. “War, persecution and torture do not pause for pandemics, and the right to seek asylum is enshrined in both domestic and international law.” They said “we have an arsenal of proven public health tools, including testing, vaccines and other common sense public health measures that would allow the United States to process asylum-seekers effectively. It is time to definitively end Title 42.”

From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.

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