President Biden defended his management of the US-Mexico border crisis Tuesday by claiming that record-high illegal border crossings are because people are “fleeing communism” — despite the fact that most migrants are not.
Biden spoke after US Customs and Border Protection said about 158,000 migrants were caught in August, bringing the 11-month tally so far for fiscal 2022 to more than 2.15 million.
Biden invoked “communism” despite the fact that just 35% of migrants in August left the authoritarian socialist governments of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
“There are fewer immigrants coming from Central America and from Mexico. This is a totally different circumstance,” Biden said at the White House when a reporter asked why “the border [is] more overwhelmed under your watch.”
“What’s on my watch now is Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua,” Biden claimed. “And the ability to send them back to those states is not rational.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also attributed the migrant influx to “communism” — rather than “pull” factors associated with Biden’s more relaxed border policies.
“These people are fleeing communism,” Jean-Pierre said. “Falling authoritarian regimes in Venezuela as well as Nicaragua and Cuba are causing a new migration challenge across the western hemisphere. So what we’re seeing is a new pattern.”
“Meanwhile, migration from Mexico and northern Central America has come down for three consecutive months and is down by nearly half and we saw the increase with Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba is up by 121%,” she told reporters.
The August data brought the number of US-Mexico border busts to more than 2 million for the first fiscal year on record. In fiscal 2021, there were about 1.7 million border apprehensions, up from about 460,000 in 2020 and 980,000 in 2019.
Data for fiscal 2022 show that migrants from Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela are indeed more numerous, but that they still make up only part of the surge at the border.
In the past 11 months, about 154,000 Venezuelans, 195,000 Cubans and 146,000 Nicaraguans were encountered at the southwest border, cumulatively making up less than 23% of the 2.15 million migrants so far in fiscal 2022, according to CBP data.
Removing all migrants from the three socialist countries from the tallies, there were 1.43 million migrants at the border in the first 11 months of fiscal 2021 and 1.66 million in the first 11 months of fiscal 2022 — meaning the border crisis worsened slightly even without factoring in the bump in migrants from those nations.
Republicans blame Biden’s policies, including his decision to end the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy that required asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border to remain in Mexico while US courts evaluated their claims of persecution.
Biden also has relaxed a COVID-19 pandemic policy used by Trump officials to rapidly expel most people who crossed the border illegally.
A Texas lawmaker threw cold water on White House claims that a wave of migrants coming from Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua is to blame for the surge and not Biden’s lax policies.
“I understand what he’s (Biden) saying but at the end of the day it’s because our borders are open and we’re allowing it to continue is why they’re coming. Those people had the same problem forever. The only thing that’s changed is the guy in charge,” Val Verde County Commission Robert Beau Nettleton told The Post.
He said that many migrants are simply abusing the asylum system to get into the US.
“The process of asylum doesn’t mean that you send 20,000 (people) across the river at one time and say I want asylum. That’s not the process. The process is that you walk across at a port of entry and request asylum or you do it at an embassy in your country,” Nettleton said.
“We have to get our immigration system under control. We have to close the border,” he warned.
Republicans have long claimed that Biden dismantling the immigration polices set in place by former President Donald Trump amounted to placing welcome signs at the border.
Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said the president has “lied” to the American people about the border being secure, and pointed out that his policies created the conditions at the border that led to the immigration crisis.
“Democracy depends on the mutual acceptance of rules, norms and institutions. President Biden’s southern border policy has undermined that principle. He has completely opened the southern border, and he has looked the American people in the eye, and he has lied and said the border’s closed,” Kennedy told Fox News on Tuesday.
Jean-Pierre acknowledged that the historic number of migrant encounters at the southern border but said those without a legal reason to enter the US have been expelled before she went on to criticize Republicans for not getting on board with the administration’s calls for immigration reform, claiming the changes are needed to fix a system destroyed by the Trump administration.
“We have solutions. We have brought solutions on day one of this administration. The president has been very clear he put forth an immigration a comprehensive immigration bill,” she said.
“And what we would like to see is Republicans decide to come to the table and help us deal with a really systemic problem that we have seen for decades when it comes to our immigration system, which by the way was actually mismanaged and decimated by the last administration,” Jean-Pierre said.
She went on to decry as a “political stunt” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ flying migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard last week to illustrate the consequences of the Biden administration’s lax border policies.
The White House is also monitoring reports that DeSantis, a Republican, is sending a planeload of migrants to the president’s vacation home in Delaware.
Nettleton said the same pattern of migration will continue until the Biden administration does something to end it.
“This is going to go as long as long as we have the administration we have. Nothing is going to change because there is no desire to stop it. Until you start deporting everyone who crossed the river, then at that point, it will stop,” he said.
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