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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Stop calling it a border crisis

The narrative that the U.S. is in the midst of a “border crisis” only empowers the media and politicians to peddle nonsensical and barbaric policies.

Recently constructed panels at the new border wall system project near McAllen, Texas


As sensationalist media coverage on the so-called “border crisis” continues to ramp up, we must acknowledge that pushing this narrative spreads nothing but deceit and ill will. The media has dubbed the fairly significant number of migrants arriving at our southern border as a “crisis.” There are indeed many aspects of the situation that could be described as a crisis. The U.S.’ indefensible treatment of migrants at the border is exemplified by the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy that led to the separation of 5,000 children from their families. Trump’s border policy was guided by the notion that migrants would be deterred from entering the U.S. through the southern border if they knew that they would be met with a response of “zero tolerance.”

Although Joe Biden rescinded the Trump administration’s policy, the border crisis rhetoric continually pushed by the media will undoubtedly lead to increased public support for the morally reprehensible and logically barren idea that harsh border policies are effective. Indeed, our country is in crisis. If we truly wish to reform our unquestionably broken immigration system, we must first condemn the fear-mongering pushed by a few bad actors, and learn to have mature and factual dialogues about the situation at the border.

The border crisis refers to the ongoing influx of migrants arriving at the southern border of the U.S., demonstrated by the approximately 200,000 migrants who crossed the border in September, up from nearly 20,000 in September 2022. With politicians and the media pushing the narrative that this amounts to a crisis in the U.S., American citizens have become disillusioned as to the effects of illegal immigration. More than half of U.S. citizens believe there is an “invasion” at the southern border, and a significant number of both Republicans and Democrats believe the false notion that immigrants are more likely to commit crimes than U.S.-born citizens. To call the migrant situation an “invasion” or “crisis” is both inaccurate and completely unsympathetic to individuals who are in crisis — who should not be treated as a crisis themselves. The border “invasion” nomenclature also provides a convenient, yet patently false explanation for the rise in deaths due to fentanyl. Despite these claims being discussed at length during the first Republican debate, migrants smuggling fentanyl across the border is incredibly rare.

The hysteria has grown so ubiquitous that even Democratic politicians fall into its trap. For example, Eric Adams, mayor of New York City, claimed that migrants were an “issue that will destroy the city.” Concern is certainly warranted over both the mistreatment of people at the southern border and the fact that they are released homeless into U.S. border towns and cities. However, these humanitarian worries could be solved with reform to the immigration system, not through harsher policies.

Migrants arriving at the border never come with the intention to simply waltz across, steal a hard-working American’s job and live comfortably at the courtesy of our incredibly generous welfare system. Migrants arrive at our border because they are desperate; they were forced by their circumstances. Thus, the reception a migrant believes they will receive at the border is irrelevant, since few would argue that we should try to make our border policies as cruel as the circumstances migrants have already endured.

This logic is well supported by the facts. Despite a large increase in U.S. border enforcement between 1986 and 2008 — including more border patrol officers and funding — the undocumented immigrant population in the U.S. grew from three to 12 million. Explanations for this reality are somewhat complex, meaning that politicians and the media are more likely to blame lax border control for increased migration simply because it is an easy solution to market. However, any evaluation of the facts insists that increased border control measures, such as Trump’s border wall, are completely ineffective. Therefore, it is disingenuous and counter-productive to keep selling these solutions as viable.

It is impossible to meaningfully address the humanitarian issues surrounding immigration in the U.S. unless the media and politicians quit peddling the border crisis narrative and the dysfunctional “solutions” that have followed. If our immigration system made migrants feel like it was possible to enter the country legally, they wouldn’t attempt illegal immigration in the first place. And, as has been proved many times over, immigrants provide nothing but benefits for the country. The government’s mishandling of immigration is a crisis indeed. We can solve the issues faced by both U.S. cities and migrants themselves if we focus the conversation of turning potential illegal immigrants into legal ones, who need no support from the government. We can all do our part to further this noble end by not buying into the border crisis hysteria.