Governments are squabbling. Cartels are winning. Migrants are dying.
When it comes to migration, we are setting all the wrong records.
On November 24, in “the worst migrant tragedy in the English Channel in years,” over two dozen migrants died while trying to cross from France to Britain.
In Central America, smugglers crammed more than 160 migrants into a tractor trailer, promising to get them to the U.S.-Mexico border. At least 55 were killed and 104 injured when the truck lost control as it sped away. According to the Wall Street Journal, “It was the worst accident involving migrants in Mexico and the highest single-day toll since the killing of 72 migrants by the Zetas drug cartel in the border state of Tamaulipas in 2010.”
And the New York Times cited International Organization of Migration data to reveal that with 650 people having died while trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border this year, “2021 has already been the deadliest for migrants at the U.S. border since 2014.”
In the face of so many worsts, we need a new approach. Otherwise, as I wrote, “there will be more worsts to come.”
Meanwhile, according to Nick Miroff of The Washington Post, the Biden administration is looking at Europe’s reception centers as a model for border policy. They are “testing innovative ideas that are humane, that maintain the due process that’s required in an asylum adjudication but that get us away from a system where people wait five years for a decision,” said Katie Tobin, Biden’s top immigration adviser on the National Security Council.
The idea holds promise. But it will take real money to implement. Which requires real political leadership.
When you look at Republican governors, leadership is in short supply.
The Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell looks at the way various governors from Republican states have been capitalizing on the traumas facing immigrant youth to write, “In reality, this decision is not about human rights. It’s not about fiscal responsibility. And it’s not about public safety. It’s about matching other presidential hopefuls’ performative cruelty to immigrant children.”
Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida has plumbed new depths. His administration has refused to renew licenses for shelters serving unaccompanied immigrant youth. And, as Rampell put it, DeSantis offered a “stomach-churning suggestion that he’s keeping out foreign-born kids because they’re inherently dangerous” when he said, “When I was serving in Iraq, we considered, like, a 16- or 17-year-old Iraqi to be a military-age male.”
There is a new consensus to be found on immigration. But it requires Democrats and Republicans to find a solution that brings the country together and shines a bright light on the cruelty of DeSantis and others.