Here are pretty extensive excerpts from an insightful article by Cristobal Ramón , Yari Gutierrez on our chronic vulnerability to migrant surges at borders. The 2018 – 2019 surge under Trump was larger than what we are seeing now. In both cases we have been entirely reactive rather than proactive. (Go here for a summary of asylum in the U.S.)
The U.S. applies stringent border policies such as interdiction and detention to deter large flows of migrants who are fleeing humanitarian or political crises in their home countries and seeking asylum in the United States. However, these measures usually fail to meet these goals since they do not impact the root causes of these migrant flows or establish protocols for managing sudden shifts in migration patterns, showing that active management of migrant flows requires strategies that extend beyond border deterrence to handle humanitarian crises.
Our asylum system dates from the Refugee Act of 1980. The Act did not anticipate that future waves of migrants seeking asylum at the U.S. border would overwhelm the new system, leaving the U.S. government without measures to shift resources to manage sudden upsurges in asylum requests.
This issue first emerged in 1979 and 1980 when 25,000 asylum seekers from Cuba and Haiti arrived in Florida during what is known as the Mariel Boatlift, when the Fidel Castro regime’s decision to allow Cubans to leave the country precipitated the exodus of 125,000 individuals from Cuba and another 25,000 Haitians fleeing the dictatorship of Jean-Claude Duvalier arrived in South Florida. For the Haitians the U.S. focused on interdiction at sea.
In 2014, there was increase in the number of unaccompanied children and families fleeing violence in Central America arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border. Obama tried to coordinate with the Mexican government and built detention centers.
In response to a steady rise in family unit apprehensions in 2018, Trump sent the armed forces to the border, separated families at the border, and curtailed the ability of unauthorized immigrants to access asylum. Despite the severity of these measures, family unit apprehensions continued to increase through the end of 2018.
Congress should consider making these two policy areas a core component of the nation’s humanitarian system, including hiring more immigration judges, establishing protocols to rapidly shift asylum resources to the U.S. border, and maintaining programs that strengthen human security in countries migrants are fleeing.
From History Shows the U.S. Doesn’t Do Well at Preparing for Migration Crises
By Cristobal Ramón , Yari Gutierrez Jan 22, 2019