A new analysis shows no migrant “surge” or border “crisis.” Here’s how often broadcast news has said there is one.


Major news outlets have frequently adopted the GOP narrative that a “surge” of migrants across the U.S. border with Mexico is causing a “crisis.” ABC, CBS, and NBC used such language to describe the situation along the border at least 138 times on their morning and evening news shows since January 1, according to a Media Matters review. 

But a new analysis published by The Washington Post on Tuesday finds that the recent increase in migrant apprehensions along the southern border is not a “surge” or a “crisis,” but the seasonal bump typically seen this time of year, likely heightened by people who waited to cross last year due to the pandemic. 

Tom K. Wong, founding director of the U.S. Immigration Policy Center at the University of California at San Diego, and Ph.D. students Gabriel De Roche and Jesus Rojas Venzor reviewed monthly U.S. Customs and Border Protection data from 2012 to the present, finding “no crisis or surge that can be attributed to Biden administration policies.” Instead, they point out that the 28% increase in migrant apprehensions from January to February is comparable to the increases between those same months in 2019 (31%) and 2018 (25%).

Plotting monthly apprehensions data since 2012, they conclude that the recent increases are a “predictable seasonal shift."

The researchers further state that the data show the overall increase in apprehensions relative to 2019 is not due to changes in policy, but “pent-up demand” following the pandemic, during which officials summarily expelled migrants attempting to cross the border under the Trump administration’s Title 42 public health order. They write:

In other words, in fiscal year 2021, it appears that migrants are continuing to enter the United States in the same numbers as in fiscal year 2019 — plus the pent-up demand from people who would have come in fiscal year 2020, but for the pandemic. That’s visible in the first figure, earlier, in which the blue trend line for the five months of data available for fiscal year 2021 (October, November, December, January and February) neatly reflects the trend line for fiscal year 2019 — plus the difference between fiscal year 2020 and fiscal year 2019.

This suggests that Title 42 expulsions delayed prospective migrants rather than deterred them — and they’re arriving now.

Full article here