Just when you think the crisis at the southern border can’t get worse, it does. More than two years into the Biden presidency, illegal crossings have soared month after month to numbers never seen in the U.S.
Critics were skeptical about the handful of policies the administration announced in January ahead of his first trip to the border in well over a decade.
The costs and consequences of this migration tsunami are far-reaching as communities across America are left holding the bag. Meanwhile, as the crisis has spiraled out of control over the past two years, the face of migration has been changing dramatically.
Emboldened by a broken immigration system and lack of enforcement, migrants swarmed across the southern border more than a quarter million times in December alone.
When you look at the numbers since President Biden took office, an estimated 3 to 5 million are believed to have breached the border with more migrants on the way.
“When they make policy statements, they tell the whole world if you are in the country illegally, we’re not going to come after you,” said Ron Vitiello, former Deputy Dir. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Smugglers are also cashing in by helping migrants from more than 165 countries bypass authorities.
In recent months, data shows the wave is traveling much further to get here. Historically, citizens of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, collectively known as Central America’s northern triangle, as well as Mexico, have accounted for most illegal immigration.
In a dramatic shift, migrants from Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and other countries once barely represented are also being processed at unprecedented levels.
“Venezuelans, Nicaraguan, and Cuban migrants are not easily able to be returned by the United States because of lack of repatriation agreements with these countries, but also because of the limitations and diplomatic restrictions the U.S. has with these countries,” said Ariel Ruiz Soto from the Migration Policy Institute.
In another noticeable change, most of those coming are no longer families, but single men.
“Many of these countries had not traditionally been sending many immigrants to the border, and so the first wave is usually the breadwinner. We’ll probably see those families coming later after they get established here in the United States,” said David Bier of the Cato Institute.
Still, most of these breadwinners will not be able to legally work here.
Meanwhile, from Texas to Arizona, and D.C. to New York, communities are scrambling for space and resources. Each migrant costs an estimated $9,000 per year for housing, food, medical, and other social services.
A total of $20+ billion and counting has been spent since Biden became president, which is $4 billion more than Donald Trump’s border wall. That tally is expected to keep climbing as word spreads that the southern border is open for business despite the administration’s claims to the contrary.