Texas Border Crisis: What’s Happening and Why It Matters

The border between the United States and Mexico has been a source of controversy and conflict for decades. However, in recent months, the situation has escalated into a crisis that has drawn national and international attention.

Thousands of migrants, mostly from Central America, have been arriving at the border, seeking asylum or a better life in the US.

The Biden administration has faced criticism from both sides of the political spectrum for its handling of the issue, while the state of Texas has taken matters into its own hands, installing razor wire and deploying National Guard troops along the border.

What are the causes and consequences of this crisis, and what are the possible solutions?

We will provide an overview of the main aspects of the Texas border crisis and why it matters for the US and the world.

What is the Texas border crisis?

The Texas border crisis is a term used to describe the surge of migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border, especially in the state of Texas, which has the longest border with Mexico.

According to the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), more than 1.7 million migrants were encountered at the southwest border in fiscal year 2021, which ended in September.

This is the highest number in more than 20 years, and a sharp increase from the previous year, when the number was about 400,000.

Most of the migrants are from the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, which are plagued by poverty, violence, corruption, and the effects of climate change.

Many of them are fleeing persecution, gang threats, domestic abuse, or natural disasters, and are seeking humanitarian protection in the US.

However, some of them are also looking for economic opportunities, family reunification, or a better quality of life.

The influx of migrants has overwhelmed the capacity of the US immigration system, which was already strained by the Covid-19 pandemic and the previous policies of the Trump administration, which restricted legal immigration and asylum.

Many migrants have been detained in overcrowded and unsanitary facilities, where they face health risks, human rights violations, and long waits for processing.

Some of them have been released into the US with notices to appear in court, while others have been expelled under a public health order known as Title 42, which allows the CBP to quickly remove migrants without due process.

The Biden administration has also resumed the use of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as the Remain in Mexico policy, which requires asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for their hearings in the US.

However, these measures have not deterred the migrants from coming, as many of them see no other option than to risk their lives and hope for a chance to enter the US.

The Texas border crisis has also sparked a political and legal battle between the federal and state governments. The state of Texas, led by Republican Governor Greg Abbott, has accused the Biden administration of failing to secure the border and protect the public safety and health of Texans.

Abbott has declared a state of disaster and a state of emergency, and has launched a series of initiatives to deter and apprehend migrants, such as:

  • Installing concertina wire along nearly 30 miles of land on the US side of the Rio Grande, which is the natural boundary between the US and Mexico.
  • Deploying thousands of National Guard troops and state troopers to assist the CBP and local law enforcement agencies in border security operations.
  • Building a border wall with state funds and private donations, after the Biden administration halted the construction of the wall started by the Trump administration.
  • Arresting and jailing migrants for trespassing, criminal mischief, or smuggling charges, under a state law that enhances the penalties for these offenses.
  • Banning the transportation of migrants by anyone other than law enforcement officers, under a state order that aims to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The Biden administration has challenged some of these actions in court, arguing that they interfere with the federal authority over immigration and border policy, and violate the constitutional rights of migrants and humanitarian organizations.

The US Supreme Court has issued a brief order that allows the federal agents to remove the wire installed by Texas, while the case continues in the lower courts.

However, Abbott has vowed to continue his efforts to secure the border and defy the federal government, claiming that he has the constitutional right and duty to defend his state from an invasion.

He has also received support from other Republican governors, who have sent their own National Guard troops or law enforcement officers to Texas, or have pledged to do so.

Why does the Texas border crisis matter?

The Texas border crisis matters for several reasons, both for the US and the world.

Some of the main reasons are:

  1. It affects the lives and well-being of millions of people, both migrants and Americans. The migrants face dangers and hardships on their journey to the US, such as extortion, robbery, kidnapping, rape, assault, or death.

They also face uncertainty and hostility in the US, where they may be detained, deported, or discriminated against.

The Americans who live or work near the border may also experience fear, frustration, or compassion, depending on their views and experiences.

They may also be affected by the economic, social, and environmental impacts of the crisis, such as the costs of border security, the availability of labor and services, the spread of diseases, or the damage to wildlife and ecosystems.

  1. It reflects the challenges and opportunities of immigration and diversity in the US. The US is a nation of immigrants, and has benefited from the contributions of people from different backgrounds and cultures.

However, the US also has a history of racism, xenophobia, and nativism, and has struggled to balance the rights and responsibilities of newcomers and natives.

The Texas border crisis exposes the gaps and flaws in the US immigration system, which is outdated, complex, and inconsistent. It also reveals the divisions and tensions among the American people, who have different opinions and interests on immigration issues.

The crisis also offers a chance for the US to reform its immigration policies and practices, and to embrace its diversity as a source of strength and innovation.

  1. It influences the relations and cooperation between the US and its neighbors. The US and Mexico share a long and complex history, marked by both friendship and conflict. The two countries have many ties and interests in common, such as trade, security, culture, and environment.

However, they also have many differences and disputes, such as drug trafficking, human rights, and sovereignty. The Texas border crisis affects the trust and communication between the two governments, and may affect their collaboration on other issues.

The crisis also involves the countries of Central America, which are the main source of migrants to the US. The US has a role and responsibility in addressing the root causes of migration in these countries, such as poverty, violence, corruption, and climate change.

The US can also work with these countries to improve their governance, development, and security, and to create more opportunities and alternatives for their people.

Conclusion

The Texas border crisis is a complex and multifaceted problem that has no easy or quick solution. It requires a comprehensive and coordinated approach that involves multiple actors and levels of government, as well as civil society and the private sector.

It also requires a humane and realistic perspective that recognizes the rights and dignity of all people, as well as the interests and values of all stakeholders. The Texas border crisis is not only a challenge, but also an opportunity for the US and the world to learn from the past, understand the present, and shape the future.

FAQs

How many migrants are crossing the Texas border?

The exact number of migrants crossing the Texas border is hard to determine, as not all of them are detected or recorded by the authorities. However, according to the CBP, in fiscal year 2021, which ended in September, more than 1.2 million migrants were encountered by the CBP in the Rio Grande Valley Sector, which covers most of the Texas border. This is the highest number among all the border sectors, and represents about 70% of the total migrants encountered at the southwest border.

Why are migrants choosing Texas as their destination?

There are several factors that influence the choice of migrants to cross the border in Texas, such as:

  • The geography and topography of the border, which offers more access points and routes for crossing, especially in the Rio Grande Valley, where the river is shallow and narrow, and the terrain is flat and vegetated.
  • The proximity and availability of transportation and services, such as buses, trains, shelters, or legal aid, which can help the migrants reach their final destinations or apply for asylum in the US.
  • The presence and activity of smugglers and traffickers, who charge fees and offer guidance to the migrants to cross the border, often using false or fraudulent documents, or exploiting the gaps or loopholes in the immigration system.
  • The policies and practices of the US and Mexican governments, which may affect the incentives or disincentives for the migrants to cross the border, such as the enforcement of Title 42, the resumption of MPP, or the cooperation with the Mexican National Guard.
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Last modified: February 1, 2024

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