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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, May 26, 2024

When the crisis on the border moves past the border

We need to work towards a sustainable and sensible solution to the migrant crisis now.


The U.S.-Mexico border is pictured.

When Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sent busloads of asylum seekers up to New York last April, I doubt even he could have predicted how his plan would have unfolded. Since 2014, more and more migrants have crossed the U.S.’ southern border, seeking entry and a better life. It has become evident that this nation’s judicial and welfare systems can no longer handle the massive amounts of undocumented immigrants migrating into the nation every year.

As time passes, asylum seekers who enter through the southern border are making their way north into cities like New York, Chicago and Boston. As a result, local systems, which are not set up to handle such a drastic increase in population, have resorted to emergency measures. In New York City, one of the first places targeted by Governor Abbott’s “busing” strategy, more than 10,000 migrants arrive each month, according to Mayor Eric Adams, and undocumented migrants have intensified the city’s housing crisis and strained public programs. Adams recently estimated that it would take a staggering $12 billion to house and care for the new arrivals. This comes at a particularly bad time for the city and its residents, as a new report indicates that nearly half of all New Yorkers can’t comfortably afford housing. The recent wave of migration has resulted in considerable changes to public perception of the issue. According to a recent poll, nearly 82% of city residents now say the influx of migrants is a “serious problem,” with another 58% saying New York has “done enough.”

In a sense, northern cities, some of which had previously declared themselves sanctuary cities, are becoming increasingly hostile to their once-invited guests. Illinois Gov., J.B. Pritzker sent a letter to President Biden imploring him to intervene with government assistance and support. He called the situation in his state, particularly around Chicago, “untenable” and a “humanitarian crisis.” Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, the state government is housing migrants in college dorms and rented hotels at a cost of around $540 million a year. California went even further when it became the first state to offer food aid to undocumented migrants; however, the program had to be delayed almost immediately due to budget cuts.

It is clear at this point that from California to New York, Illinois to Texas, the influx of undocumented migrants is becoming an increasingly pressing issue. The solution to all these problems is complex and challenging to implement; however, we as a nation need to have an honest conversation about this crisis if we are going to have any chance of solving it. We cannot continue to act as Democrats have done up to this point by allowing for easier border access, which has put further strain on systems already teetering on the edge of collapse. We also cannot act as national Republicans have, with race-baiting and calling for a completely closed border. Both these policies have failed, as shown by the increased number of migrants at the border year after year.

Our solution to the migration crisis needs to be multifaceted and targeted to each step of the migration process. First, we must aid Latin American countries suffering from intense political and economic issues. This can come in the form of direct financial aid or the lifting of existing sanctions on countries like Venezuela. This will hopefully decrease the number of migrants setting out for the U.S. in the first place. Secondly, the U.S. must strengthen the border and make it clear that asylum is for people suffering from political, religious and other specific types of persecution. This will ensure that people are not entering the nation on asylum claims when they are not qualified for asylum. Thirdly, the immigration court system must be expanded to quickly resolve the backlog of cases. Migrants who enter the country pending their trials can legally work, with some granted work permits for up to 18 months. However, migrants have consistently been given court dates years from their date of entry, leaving them jobless and in limbo. Lastly, the federal government must crack down on big businesses’ hiring of undocumented workers, which keeps them impoverished and reliant on government handouts.

Solving this issue will not be easy, especially when our nation faces an increasingly divided government, major conflicts abroad and a mounting debt crisis. Yet, if we do not address the issue of undocumented migration at the southern border, it will soon spread to all parts of the nation. The toll on local governments will be substantial, and it is clear that the government is no longer able to subsidize and care for all these migrants. Thus, it is paramount we work to halt the movement of new undocumented migrants to the border and to provide adequate support necessary for migrants who have already arrived, allowing them to find success without depending on government aid.