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Weingarten: On the border crisis

Opinion Editor Caleb Weingarten shares his thoughts on America’s crisis at the southern border.

A full discussion and debate about the border crisis reaches far beyond what I can outline in an article, but I believe it is still worth discussing, especially given that it is an election year.

Anytime there is discussion of a “crisis” in American politics, it is usually due to the inability of our lawmakers to formulate policy that actually helps those in need. This crisis is no different.

First, it is helpful to provide a summary of what is currently happening down at America’s southern border for those who do not have the time to follow such a complex issuebecause that is what it is: anything but simple. 

During the Biden administration, the migrant crisis has expanded dramatically. For example, “in the month of December 2023 alone, border patrol agents recorded 302,000 encounters (these include apprehensions and immediate expulsions), a new high.” For context, the “monthly average from 2013 to 2019 was 39,000.” 

According to data from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection:

  • In 2019, there were 1,148,024 border encounters. 
  • In 2020, there were 646,822 border encounters (this massive reduction was largely due to COVID-19, but some of it is attributed to Trump-era immigration policy).
  • In 2021, there were 1,956,519 border encounters.
  • In 2022, there were 2,766,582 border encounters.
  • In 2023, there were 3,201,144 border encounters. 
  • So far, in 2024, there have been 1,487,195 border encounters. 

There are also more people from different countries attempting to cross the border. Mexican nationals make up a much smaller portion of the population crossing the border than in the past. Instead, the U.S. border is now seeing many demographics. These include people from countries such as Venezuela, Haiti, Ecuador, Ukraine and even China.

One of the major impediments to improving the border security process is the backlog of immigration and asylum cases. According to the article linked above, “there were an astounding 3.3 million cases pending as of December 2023, but just 682 immigration judges. That means the average caseload is more than 4,500 per judge.” 

Clearly, this isn’t feasible. In addition, border patrol agents on the ground are under intense pressure due to the massive flow of immigrants. In a 2023 hearing, Inspector General at the Department of Homeland Security Joseph Cuffari described that despite “greater workloads, staffing levels have remained the same, with CBP and ICE using details and overtime to temporarily surge staffing along the Southwest border.” Cuffari stated that this practice will not be sufficient moving forward. Thus, America must immediately send resources to the southern border.

So, with this understanding, it seems likely that Republicans would capitalize on providing the necessary resources to the southern border, especially since immigration is a massive issue, right? Wrong.

Republicans missed an opportunity to enact a comprehensive border bill that would have provided further assistance to Ukraine and Israel (which are highly debatable but not the focus of this article) and send much-needed resources to combat the southern border crisis. A significant amount of money would be allocated to “address existing operation needs and expand capabilities at our nation’s borders, resource the new border policies included in the package, and help stop the flow of fentanyl and other narcotics.”

Instead, the bill died on the Senate floor. House Speaker Mike Johnson claimed in an interview that the bill wouldn’t do a “darn thing” to solve the crisis. Yet earlier in the interview, he also suggested that constructing new immigration policy is highly difficult and America needs something right now to address current needs. So which one is it? Solving the crisis entirely is an unrealistic goal in such a short time period. It is an extremely complex process. However, when Democrats bend to the Republicans, it is not good enough because it doesn’t stop the problem entirely. See the contradiction?  

Johnson also claimed that border patrol agents do not think any of this funding would help them do their jobs even though large amounts of money are dedicated to hiring additional personnel to handle immigration cases and encounters. Johnson claims that the border patrol does not need more “buckets;” rather, they need the flow to stop entirely. This is contrary to what the inspector general said above, and while it is necessary to stem the flow through the border, it is impossible to cut the flow of immigrants completely. People are not going to stop taking the journey to America, and we need to formulate policy that enables our law enforcement to handle the situation accordingly. 

This does not mean having an open border with lax security. The glaring issues at the border need to be addressed. Human trafficking and the flow of illicit narcotics by cartels are not just political issues but moral issues that demand action. I am all for border security so long as it is founded on morals and consistency—and the Republicans who are winning support over this issue are pulling the blinds over the eyes of Americans. They do not care about solving the issue right now, nor are they concerned about morality (I wouldn’t go so far as to say the  Democrats are particularly moral either, but the Biden administration supported this bill). 

As one analyst writes, the “politics that have killed this deal in 2024 are clear. If Republicans pass legislation that improves the border chaos that’s plagued President Biden’s presidency, they ease the political albatross around his neck in the middle of a presidential campaign.”

Like most things, it is simply a political game, and many Americans are falling for it hook, line and sinker. It is a reality that “many Republicans are prepared to wait until 2025 to address border security. If Donald Trump defeats President Biden and reenters the Oval Office, they believe that they will get everything they want without enacting compromise legislation that would limit Trump’s powers. In the meantime, they believe the issue is damaging Biden, and they do not see why they should help him during an election year.”

It is clear Republicans want Trump to take the credit for “fixing” the border problem. The worse it gets, the more credibility Trump receives. However, the last person I trust is a man who stumbled dangerously close to having a Hitler-esque moment when he claimed that immigrants are “poisoning the blood” of our nation. Isn’t his wife Slovenian? When pressed about his imprudence, Trump said that he “never knew that Hitler said it” and that he had never read Hitler’s manifesto “Mein Kampf”. This is coming from the same man who claimed to be a “very stable genius.” I’m glad the Republican frontrunner is a man historically ignorant of the most brutal fascist thug to ever breathe air. He seems like the perfect leader for the future of our nation and our respect of morality. 

Unfortunately, this is the game we must all play. Just be cautious when entering it. This bill was an opportunity for our government to prove to the American people that a divided government could work together in a time of crisis and that substance could take precedence over partisanship. Unsurprisingly, it fell short. Perhaps we are foolish ones for expecting the bare minimum. 

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  • A

    Ashley | Mar 29, 2024 at 11:24 am

    These numbers are staggering. I appreciate the links provided. After reading the bill and watching the interview with Speaker Johnson, I noticed how hard he deflected, at least in my view. Although, that’s the theme of US politics it seems. The article attached highlighting Trump’s attempt at downplaying his words was a harsh reminder. Reminds me of when he was asked what his favorite Bible verse was and responded with, “all of them” (if remember) but somehow he was able to recite Hitler’s words. Interesting.

  • D

    David Jackson | Mar 28, 2024 at 8:45 pm

    Because there’s a crisis at the US southern border, orchestrated by the Biden administration who immediately began to undue security measures implemented by the Trump administration, such as but not limited to tearing down portions of the boarder wall and ceasing further construction, not deterring financed migrant caravans, etc. Republicans have to sign on to whatever legislation the Democrats produce otherwise they’re just playing politics to keep it a crisis until the election? Did it ever cross your mind perhaps the “adults in charge” should have never let it become a crisis in the first place? Control of our boarder isn’t outside of the Federal Government’s power.

    Your entire argument is based upon the false premise that Democrats bent to the Republicans, which is demonstrably not true. Lets look at the “bipartisan” boarder policy changes in the words of Chris Murphy, (D-CT) himself:
    Asylum claims are processed in a “non-detained, non-adversarial way” which sounds all touchy feeley for the adult children voters but raises serious questions about enforceability.
    Says “most asylum seekers can work immediately” with only a “slightly hier asylum screening standard at the boarder”
    Brand new right to legal representation for all migrants
    States so called “emergency cases that show up in between ports still need to be accepted”
    “Ports must process a minimum of 1400 claims a day.”
    “A pathway to citizenship for Afghan parolees and the children if H1B holders”
    Murphy even claims “the boarder never closes” about the bill.

    Meanwhile, in reality, House Republicans passed a far stronger bill, which would:
    “require DHS to construct at least 900 miles of wall and physical barriers along that border.”
    “limit both the rules of eligibility for aliens to apply for asylum in the United States and the circumstances under which asylum could be granted.”
    “significantly restrict DHS’s ability to grant parole, which permits aliens to temporarily enter the United States.”
    “create new criminal and civil penalties” for people who overstay their visas.
    “require all U.S. employers to use E-Verify, the federal web-based system for confirming eligibility to work.”
    But 100% of House Democrats voted against it, and Senate Democrats shelved it. That way they could produce their own watered down open boarder bill and get partisan supporters and the media to push the false narrative that Republicans just don’t want to cooperate to make Biden look bad.

    You need to do some serious reassessing of who has fallen for political games hook line and sinker.

    And “dangerously close to having a Hitler-esque moment” lol. The old everyone who disagrees with me is a nazi/fascist/Hitler claim, the hallmark of the enlightened. Could have been worse, he could have coerced Amazon to censor what books Americans could purchase. Oh wait, that was our current President.

    • A

      Ashley | Mar 29, 2024 at 12:19 am

      Spoken like a true Trump fangirl. Bravo! “Lol”

      • D

        David Jackson | Mar 29, 2024 at 6:10 pm

        Lol, spoken like a true example of someone who can’t articulate a thought based on the facts. Bravo!

        • A

          Ashley | Mar 29, 2024 at 6:51 pm

          You seriously need a hobby. You’re ridiculous and I can’t imagine having to publish articles knowing you, “David Jackson” will put on your keyboard warrior tin foil hat and go on and on trying to impress yourself with nonsensical ideology with every single article or OPINION. After all, this is an opinion column. Sorry it’s not Newsmax. Thanks for the laugh though, fangirl.

          • D

            David Jackson | Mar 29, 2024 at 11:33 pm

            No problem fanboy, glad I could help brighten your day.

            However I couldn’t help but notice in your reply you still couldn’t articulate a thought based on the facts…something you’d find easy to do if what you’re responding to is actually “nonsensical.”

    • S

      snowflake finder | Mar 29, 2024 at 5:41 am

      First if you’re going to quote the word border at least spell it right. It’s not “boarder.”

      Your arguments against the author’s premise are just subjective interpretations of the bill and not fact.

      David you do not even due the basic thing and look at the sources linked and read the analysis of people who are more intelligent than you are. It doesn’t mean you must believe them, that would be bad practice. However, it’s worth considering. If you are referring to HR2, the Republican bill, the interview that the author linked, Mike Johnson didn’t argue when Jake Tapper said that that bill wouldn’t get 60 votes in the Senate. Read the analysis anywhere. You may not like the entire bill but there is all the evidence to show that it would have helped at the border currently. It wouldn’t fix the problem but it’s clear you think that’s simple. You’re mad at Democrats for “shelving” the first one-sided legislation, but not mad at Republicans for shelving a bipartisan deal? You don’t even address any of the other points either. It would actually hire people to clear asylum cases which if you listen to people who work at the border, they claim is a big deal. I’m quoting now the Nebraska Examiner: “ The immigration provisions, negotiated by the White House and Sens. James Lankford, a Republican from Oklahoma, Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, and Kyrsten Sinema, an independent from Arizona, would be the biggest changes to immigration law in nearly 40 years if enacted — although a tough path is ahead in both the Senate and House”

      As for asylum: “ The bill makes changes to credible fear of persecution standards for asylum and for the expedited removal of those asylum seekers who don’t qualify. There would be $3.99 billion provided for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to hire 4,338 asylum officers.”

      As for catch and release: “ Sinema said the bill would end the policy of allowing migrants who are detained to live in U.S. communities while they await having their asylum cases heard by an immigration judge, known colloquially as “catch and release.” Instead of that practice, Sinema said those migrants would be taken to a short-term detention center, where a quick asylum interview would determine whether that migrant meets the asylum requirements or should be swiftly removed.”

      The funding would have provided the money to hire both more agents and judges to process cases. That is part of the immigration process. Yes, we all agree it must be handled at the border, but it is far more complex than you make it seem.

      You’re simply wrong in saying the bill is watered down. Maybe if you’re a Trump hardliner it is, but I’m sorry, that isn’t how bipartisan politics works. Perhaps you should do some reassessing. Is it also that crazy to imagine Republicans letting an issue grow simply to defeat the Democrats in an election year? Man you’re ignorant. Also, when Hillary Clinton called Trumpies “deplorables” I agree it was wrong but don’t act like Republicans didn’t turn into “snowflakes”. So why are Trump’s comments acceptable?

      It’s not a simple “disagreement” to label someone a fascist. Look at the text the author wrote. If Biden quoted something similar to what Hitler said I think you’d be concerned. But.. Oh wait, that was the former President.

      I don’t think a Republican should be talking about book censorship lol. “It could have been worse”? Really? Trump, the “very stable genius” uses Hitler-like rhetoric and your response is “it could be worse?” Atleast he doesn’t want to be a dictator, except on day one, oh wait….

      • D

        David Jackson | Mar 29, 2024 at 6:08 pm

        “First if you’re going to quote the word border at least spell it right. It’s not “boarder.”
        “David you do not even due the basic thing…”

        Due? If you’re going to be petty enough to criticize someone for a simple spelling error, it would behoove you to not make multiple of them in your reply.

        You don’t get it, because you’ve been conditioned not to, and are too prideful to play devil’s advocate with your own positions long enough to objectively analyze the situation. A sucker for buzzwords, slogans, advertised intentions sold with emotionally manipulative fairytales, and claims of “bipartisanship.” You’ll only get it when you analyze it from the position of what the long term net outcome will be, and what the tradeoffs are of that outcome and what it took to achieve it. When you do that, you start to see the insidiousness of the vast majority of what’s written by all politicians, and learn to never trust the narrative you’re sold on partisan media programs.

        “You’re simply wrong in saying the bill is watered down.”

        I’m simply not. It addresses some issues to publicly look good at first glance while purposefully leaving the root of the problem in place for Democrats to politically exploit. Large scale artificial importation of masses of people who didn’t immigrate here on their own, with no incentive to assimilate to US Culture, who pad the census numbers for US House of Representative seat allocations, and who are on average more likely to vote Democrat as they will be manipulated with promises of taxpayer support, which due to their lacking assimilation will make large percentages of them and their children dependent long term on government welfare Democrats promise to keep giving as long as they’re elected to power. Essentially the Dems classic playbook of exploit a demographic of people by pretending to be on their side and hide behind shameless accusations of racism thrown at anyone who raises concerns or argues against it, to shame people away from any comprehensive factual analysis.

        “Is it also that crazy to imagine Republicans letting an issue grow simply to defeat the Democrats in an election year?”

        No, partisanship isn’t that crazy to imagine, and it happens both ways all the time. Now think about that statement Snowflake, is it also that crazy to imagine that letting this issue occur in the first place was appallingly negligent of the current administration? Or gee, could it have been done on purpose? Other than your own bias, how do you come to only see accountability on one party? I suppose coming to the realization that the party you’ve emotionally attached your ego to is either incompetent or evil is a rather difficult pill to swallow. Easier to keep taking the blue pill and believe the fairytale they’re the good guys, right?

        Quoted something similar….and just how similar was it and how is it relevant? Do tell. Hitler also drank water, am I supposed to get hysterical every time I see someone attempting to hydrate? Did you completely miss the fact the Biden Administration coerced Amazon into limiting what books people could buy? Or do you just find it ideologically inconvenient when a Democrat uses government to manipulate a corporation (authentic fascism) to control what information the American citizen can access? What policy did Trump push or is now advocating to push that’s fascist? Or did he say “good afternoon” once and Mussolini is also on record as saying that?

        Why don’t you think a Republican should be talking about book censorship? There’s a movement of mostly Republican (or at least conservative) parents out there who want only age-appropriate materials in school libraries, and that’s about as restrictive as Republicans get, oh no! Meanwhile, Democrats manipulate online search engine algorithms, shadow ban and openly delete social media posts, conduct cancel campaigns against podcasters, and pressure America’s largest online retailer to limit what books Americans can buy. And you think the Republicans are the fascists because the Democrats tell you so?

        “Atleast” Again, is that a word spelling champ? What evidence do you have for Trump wanting to be a dictator? Here’s a hint, hyper-partisan rhetoric doesn’t count.

        • U

          ultra-snowflake finder | Mar 29, 2024 at 8:00 pm

          David, you’re right. My phone autocorrected but you are correct. It still doesn’t take away from the fact you do not know how to spell “border.”

          I see the spelling issue upset you. I’d be upset too if I tried to refute facts and instead displayed my stupidity, which is usually what I see you do in these comment sections. Much of what you say is subjective nonsense posing as fact. I refuse to be objective-minded and am a “sucker” for buzzwords and slogans when the guy you support has MAGA as his slogan and has people dressed head to toe in his gear? Not to mention the names he comes up with for people he hates. Beijing Biden, Sleepy Joe, Crooked Hillary. What about the chants? Drain the swamp, lock her up, shall I continue? I’m sure an entire book could be constructed around Trump’s buzzwords and slogans. I’m actually not a Democrat at all, I’m independent and won’t vote for either of these guys come November. So most of your criticisms fall short. I agree that Democrats suck. But since you’re so “comprehensive” and “objective” and independent, where is your critique of the Republicans? Again, you didn’t address any of my comment or the sources I provided. What is U.S. culture, I’m just curious? Yes, this bill doesn’t fix the immigration problem completely but it is hard to reverse decades of bad policy. Stop the oversimplification. Just because “partisanship” happens all the time doesn’t mean blatant denial of a comprehensive bill is a good thing (yes, if the Democrats stop a good bill, I disagree, however I don’t think HR2 fixes the problem at all). Biden definitely dropped the ball on immigration and most things going on. I think this article said so too actually. I don’t disagree with you. I just don’t understand the Trump-fetish. We can do better, and I’m surprised such a smart and Stoic thinker like yourself doesn’t agree. As far as book censorship, I agree. Any form of this is wrong and contemptible.

          I think the Republicans are pushing fascist rhetoric primarily. Not all of them, of course, and I also don’t believe that they are going to cause another holocaust. Your “hydration” comparison is almost laughable. Answer me this, if Biden said white American Christians were poisoning the blood of our nation you’d have no issue? It would be your typical average Joe comment right? I doubt it. David, you’re smarter than that. Or maybe you’re not. It’s okay to be concerned about what your political leaders say (also Trump said he wanted to be a dictator on day one; use Google it helps sometimes).

          Thanks, I came second place in a spelling be in grade school.

          I’ve spent far too much time doing this but it’s been fun. I hope you get to meet Trump one day, it seems like that would be life fulfilling for you.

          Good day sir

          • D

            David Jackson | Mar 30, 2024 at 12:38 pm

            Ad-homonym and strawman fallacies don’t prove your opposition is displaying stupidity and subjective nonsense son. Quite the opposite actually.

            Every politician has a slogan, the fact I support one over another would only mean I’m a sucker for one slogan over another if I also hadn’t articulated logical reasons why I support one over the other, and I’ve stated the economic and policy reasons I have whether you can respond to them or not.

            Trump is a shallow egomaniac I have no interest in meeting or worshiping. If you’re an independent, good for you. If that’s true, you should be able to recognize that one of the reasons Trump is so hated is the political left loves to worship their politicians and celebrity “thought leaders” and now the right has someone better at their game own than they are. Trump is the perfect response to voters with such blind faith in government, career politicians, and media manipulators, and for the rest of us that makes him and the hysterical reactions to him entertaining to watch. Between that and having 1st term policies which were demonstrably better than Rinos and the Democrats, he gets my support without the blind sycophantic worship you accuse me and many other voters of.

            Many of us don’t like or trust the guy. But what you fail to understand is that’s not how you pick a President. There’s been nobody to like or trust in federal office for a very long time and it’s frankly childish to think there has been. Demonstrably imperfect or not, doesn’t matter. He’s a direct rebuke of the self-anointed progressive/politically correct/woke/(insert euphemism for smug delusion of moral superiority here) agenda and that alone would make him the best current option, but we also had policies that in general made sense.

            “…also Trump said he wanted to be a dictator on day one; use Google it helps sometimes”

            No Snowflake, he did not. In his usual, inarticulate ramblings he stated the following, and the hysterical left pretends it’s what they would find politically convenient for him to have said, as usual.
            “No, no, other than day one. We’re closing the border and we’re drilling, drilling, drilling.’ After that I’m not a dictator,”

            “What is U.S. culture, I’m just curious?”

            The fact you’re in college and are curious is the problem. You’ve been “educated” to believe there’s no such thing, and likely that anyone who says there is, is either ignorant or a bigot of some sort. US Culture is individualism, individual and natural human rights derived from our creator instead of a human bureaucracy. Where people are judged by the content of their character and not the race/sex/orientation/or any other identity they can be categorized as for divisive tribalistic identity political theory. Equal opportunity and protection of the law instead of forced equity of outcomes for certain interest groups. Respect for Federalism and Constitutional rule of law. And last but certainly not least, viewing oneself as an American first, and whatever else a distant second if at all. Do you see any of that in the ethnic enclaves being produced in mass by our current boarder issues?

            “I think the Republicans are pushing fascist rhetoric primarily.”

            Like what? Did they openly support Biden’s efforts to pressure America’s largest online retailer to limit what books Americans were allowed to buy or something?

            As for the accusation I have no critique of the Republican party. They’re often spineless opportunists who pay lip service to preserving the ideals of this country, then turn around and vote with the Washington uni-party/Democrats to destroy it from the inside out. This in contrast to the Democrats, who are now more open than ever in their quest to “burn it down” so they can attempt to institute their dreams of neo-socialism.