(CNN) – There are important details left out of many conversations about the growing number of migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border.
Decades ago, the vast majority of migrants trying to cross the border between ports of entry were from Mexico. A few years ago, the majority came from the Central American countries known as the Northern Triangle: Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. But now, according to Border Patrol statistics, the number of people coming from outside those places is increasing rapidly.
David Pierre calls it “the change of the sea” and “a new phenomenon that no one talks about.” Bier, associate director for migration studies at the Cato Institute, noted this change in a The last topic on Twitter. He says they are details that reveal a lot about what the Biden administration is facing at the border, and why it has been so difficult to resolve the situation.
To better understand this trend, CNN delved into the data. Here’s a look at what we’ve recorded, why this change is so important, why it’s happening, what this looks like on the ground, and what could happen next.
Our analysis: There is a big change in who comes to the US-Mexico border. Large numbers of immigrants from Mexico and the Northern Triangle continue to make the journey. But the number of immigrants from other countries, represented here in purple, has increased significantly.
In 2007, the number of immigrants in this “other” category was minimal. But since then, it’s grown a staggering 11,000%, with the biggest increase in the past two years.
US Border Patrol encounters continue to show more migrants from Mexico trying to cross the southwestern border in July than any other country. But so far this fiscal year, for the first time, encounters with immigrants from outside Mexico and the Northern Triangle outnumber those from either of those regions.
A handful of countries make up a large part of this growing group on the border. The number of times US Border Patrol agents on the southwest border have encountered migrants from Cuba, Colombia, Nicaragua and Venezuela has increased dramatically in the past two years.
A word of warning: For this analysis, we used US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) statistics on Border Patrol encounters, which include both migrants who are arrested and, less temporarily, detained at the border, such as migrants who are promptly expelled to their countries of origin and to Mexico. This data gives us the best overall picture of who is arriving and what is happening at the border.
But officials acknowledged that the numbers may be inflated, as they include some immigrants who were turned back under the government’s public health policy. “Address 42”Then try to cross again.
In other words, the same people may have been counted multiple times.
This is a problem that particularly affects immigrants from Mexico and the Northern Triangle, who are more likely to be subject to Title 42 restrictions than immigrants from other countries.
Because it is important: The emergence of additional nationalities at the border “makes policy enforcement at the border more complex,” says Doris Meisner, who directs U.S. immigration policy work at the nonpartisan Immigration Policy Institute in Washington.
Over the decades, many border policies have been designed with Mexican immigrants in mind, he says, but it is much more difficult to deport people to other countries. For example, Title 42 specifies the nationalities that can be removed and returned to their countries of origin. Cold diplomatic relations can also affect deportations.
“These populations … require different types of responses,” Meisner says. “We have not established an asylum system that is in any way up to the challenge of this change.”
Administration officials say they are working hard to address the root causes of immigration. President Joe Biden described him as a Hemisphere Challenge.
But Pierre says officials are not doing enough.
“The Biden administration cannot respond to this new reality with the same old playbook,” he said on Twitter. That’s exactly what the administration appears to be doing, Beer told CNN. “It’s a lot of the same types of responses,” he says.
Why does this happen: There is no simple reason for this to happen, says Pierre.
“There are many answers, and there are countries represented in that group,” he says.
Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus Recently for CBS News It is impossible to point out all the factors that push migrants to make the journey, given the complexity of the situation in their countries of origin. “It’s a very complex set of dynamics,” he said.
Meissner, who was a commissioner with the Immigration and Naturalization Service from 1993 to 2000, says the pandemic has played a major role in intensifying economic pressures.
There are also other factors at play. According to Meisner, the increase in the number of Cubans heading to the United States can be attributed in part to the existence of a new air route between Cuba and Nicaragua. CNN’s Patrick Opman reported this afterwards Nicaragua After the visa requirements for Cubans were removed, people started posting advertisements online to sell their homes with “everything in it” to pay for expensive plane tickets.
Deteriorating economic conditions, food shortages, and limited access to health care are increasingly driving Venezuelans to leave, Meissner says, and the growing Venezuelan community in the United States is an attraction.
For Colombians and Nicaraguans, economic instability, exacerbated by the pandemic, has been the main driver of migration, he says, but politics also plays a role.
“The increased repression under the Ortega regime, especially during the last presidential election, has reinforced the belief among many Nicaraguans that the country’s political turmoil will not be resolved any time soon,” Meisner says.
He says those who previously viewed neighboring Costa Rica as a destination are likely to look elsewhere due to the dwindling job opportunities there.
High inflation and unemployment in Colombia Messner says they are driving the immigration. He says the social unrest that followed the wave of protests in 2021 and the political divisions that intensified during the last presidential election may also affect the decisions of immigrants.
How does this look on the ground: This is not just something we can see with statistics. Both immigrants and border guards officials say they are noticing the change.
Yuma’s Border Patrol division chief Chris Clem told CNN reporter Priscilla Alvarez last month that the huge number of nationalities crossing the border was testing his clients.
“The countries we are receiving now, those nationalities are traveling to, they come to the borders, they have to be addressed and there are a lot of them which is a challenge to the workforce,” he said.
Speaking to CNN earlier this year, A Cuban immigrant He described a house in the Mexican desert where he and others waited to cross the border.
He said that one of the rooms was full of Cubans. Another was full of people from different countries.
“There were Colombians, Bangladeshis, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, Haitians,” he said. “It seems like the whole world was there.”
What might happen next: Like everything about borders, there is a lot of debate about what officials should do about it.
Biden administration officials have repeatedly stressed that the border is not open. But those who favor increased immigration restrictions argue that the administration’s policies have motivated more people to try their luck at crossing the border illegally. And some, including more than 50% of Republicans, according to A A recent NPR-Ipsos poll, they say they believe it is absolutely true that “the United States is experiencing an invasion on the southern border.” Some of the Republican candidates are Insist on this message On the eve of the midterm elections, they vow to do more if elected to stamp out illegal immigration.
Beer and Meisner argue that the changing composition of immigrants at the border shows that the US immigration system is in need of overhaul.
“Many, if not most, of these people are ineligible for asylum, despite having fled very difficult circumstances,” Messner says. “We urgently need Congress to address immigration laws and provide other legal avenues of access to the United States.”
He adds that countries in the Western Hemisphere must work together and treat migration as a shared responsibility.
At the moment, there are no signs that this trend is slowing. Beer and Meisner say they don’t expect that.
“It’s quite reasonable to think that this could go on for many years, because we don’t have the infrastructure to get people out as quickly as they arrive,” says Pierre.
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