Is there a crisis at the border? That answer depends on who you ask, and when it comes to the corporate media the answer depends on who is President.
When the surge of unaccompanied minors hit its peak under President Obama in 2014 here is how major media outlets covered it.
The New York Times: President Obama has called the surge an “urgent humanitarian situation,” and lawmakers have called for hearings on the crisis.
The Washington Post: Obama aides were warned of brewing border crisis
The Guardian: Child migrants at Texas border: an immigration crisis that's hardly new
The Huffington Post: Shocking Photos of Humanitarian Crisis on U.S. Border Emerge
Vox: The 2014 Central American migrant crisis
It was correct to call what was happening at the border in 2014 a crisis. That year, 68,541 unaccompanied children (UAC) and 68,445 family units were apprehended at the border (Note: These are fiscal years, FY). By comparison, in FY2018, 50,036 UAC and 107,212 family units were apprehended at the border.
The number of UAC coming across the border is still very high. The number of family units apprehended at the border, meaning at least one adult accompanied by a child, was 57% higher in FY2018 than it was in FY2014. The White House announced this week that in December 2018 "20,000 migrant children were illegally smuggled into the country last month alone."
The Obama Administration approach was to try to place UAC with parents or guardians already (often illegally) in the United States, which resulted in some children being turned over to traffickers. Family units were usually released and given a notice to appear in court. Many never showed up to court, and even those who did and were ordered removed never complied with that order.
The failure of the Obama Administration to deal with the border crisis did not make it go away. Yet, the very same outlets that that in 2014 gave it great attention are now denying there is a problem at all. Or more accurately, they are arguing that the only problem is that President Trump is manufacturing a crisis for political purposes.
The New York Times: In Texas Visit, Trump Presses His Argument That There’s a Border ‘Crisis’
The Washington Post: Trump used oval office to try to create a border crisis
The Guardian: Donald Trump fuels immigration fears in TV address on ‘border crisis’
Eddie Scarry at The Washington Times pointed out this turnabout in news coverage.
The Washington Post on July 12, 2014, referred to 'the current crisis on the Southwest border, where authorities have apprehended tens of thousands of unaccompanied Central American children since October ...' The story's lead author was Karen Tumulty, now a columnist for the Post, who completely dismissed the idea of any crisis at the border this week.
'We are headed to this extraordinary situation where the president declares a state of emergency, which does not exist, and the law does not really explain what we do if the president manufactures an emergency,' she said Tuesday on MSNBC.
What has changed? It certainly isn’t that the situation at the border has improved. If anything, the situation has deteriorated. Asylum claims are soaring, not because conditions in Latin American have gotten worse but because traffickers, and political groups like Pueblos Sin Fronteras (Peoples Without Borders), have learned that claiming “credible fear” at the border entitles an illegal alien to a hearing, and, because of poorly written legislation and court rulings, DHS’ ability to detain families together pending a hearing is severely limited. So, claiming aslyum, especially if you have a child in tow, is an extremely effective way of gaining entry into the United States. This information is being transmitted to people in Central America, enticing them to make the dangerous journey northward.
Asylum claims have soared 2,000% over the past decade. Last November the White House reported that there were 1,500 to 2,000 request for asylum a week at the southern border. Border Patrol is being overwhelmed, ICE lacks detention space and has released tens of thousands of illegal aliens into the interior, and immigration courts may never be able to clear their backlogs unless Congress takes action to rationalize the asylum process.
There was much talk in the media that the crisis had subsided because “border apprehensions are at historic lows.” This framing is extremely misleading. Most people understand that to mean apprehensions are at an all-time low, not that they are lower than they were at some point in the recent past. The historic lows in apprehensions were in the 1960s, when this data was first recorded.
From 1983 to 2006 there was a massive wave of illegal immigration into the United States, with apprehensions routinely surpassing one million. The peak year was 2000, with 1,643,679 apprehensions at the southern border.
In FY2018, there were 521,090 total apprehensions at the southern border. What the American people are hearing from the media is that this fact is insignificant and there is no reason for concern over border security because this number is not an “historic high.” What we are not hearing is that total apprehensions were higher in FY2018 than in FY2017, FY2015, and FY2013. And, as pointed out above, the increase in family units is the real story of why there is without question a crisis at the border.
In December 2018, DHS reported that the number of family units apprehended was 27,518. That’s an historic high!
The shutdown continues. So, too, does the crisis on the border. And, so, too, does the lack of honest reporting on the situation by so many in the national media.
At least Jim Acosta is always good for some comic relief.
ERIC RUARK is the Director of Research for NumbersUSA
Updated: Fri, Jan 25th 2019 @ 10:30am EST