Democrats Suddenly Realize Open Borders Are a Disaster

Republican governors of border states are send busloads of illegal incoming — released in their states by the Department of Homeland Security — in DC and New York, prompting recriminations and demands for federal money from Democratic mayors in those once immigrant-friendly cities.

These mayors, seemingly unknowingly, are making the governors’ point – that the administration has created a disaster at the US-Mexico line, requiring an immediate policy shift to protect state and local lives and finances.

It started in April. Fed up with federal releases of large numbers of migrants in overstretched small towns in his state (including Uvalde), Texas Governor Greg Abbott (right) has begun offering migrants free bus rides to DC to transfer some of the burden to Washington.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (right) followed suit in May, and more than 7,300 migrants have since arrived in DC from the two states, creating what even Vanity Fair called “a crisis of immigrants in Washington”.

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), who reaffirmed her city’s status as an immigrant ‘sanctuary city’ after Donald Trump was elected in 2016, is now mocking Abbott and Ducey’s efforts calling them “cruel political manipulation” creating a “humanitarian crisis” in his city that “must be addressed at the federal level” in a letter to Department of Defense requesting National Guard support (since rejected).

Bowser complained about what at the time totaled 4,000 migrants over a three-month period in his city of more than 707,000. By March, by comparison, DHS was dropping off up to 150 migrants a day in Uvalde, i.e. 15,312 inhabitants, or approximately one migrant for 102 inhabitants per day.

Venezuelan migrants dispatched by Texas Governor Greg Abbott at Union Station in DC on August 2, 2022.
Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images

New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) also weighed in, accusing Texas and Arizona in July of transporting 2,800 migrants to his city (population: 8.467 million) over a six-week period, straining the city’s homeless shelters. Adams also demanded federal money to help his government get by.

Both governors denied Adams’ accusation, but Abbott apparently took it as an invitation, as he also just started sending buses to Manhattan.

Adams office and The New York Times described these migrants in New York as “asylum seekers”, but that is simply not true. DHS statistics show that between July 2021 and July 2022, the department authorized less than 40,000 “arriving aliens” to seek asylum in the United States.

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has accused Republican governors of creating a
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has accused Republican governors of creating a “humanitarian crisis” in her city.
Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images

During that same period, however, CBP encountered 2.361 million arrivals at the southwest border, deported 1.142 million under CDC Pandemic Related Title 42 Orders (which Biden nevertheless opposes) and released about 853,000 in the United States — meaning that only about 5% of the migrants Adams complains about are truly “asylum seekers.”

All of these migrants, whether authorized to seek asylum or not, have been released for removal hearings, which can take years. Nationally, the average immigration case has been pending for 829 days and 953 days in New York. The only relief available to most of these illegal immigrants is asylum, so those who show up in court will ask for that protection to stay here longer, even if they just came to earn more money.

The New York Times article focused on Venezuelan migrants in New York. Under Biden, agents on the southwest border captured 157,600 Venezuelans, 57% of them single adults. Only 1,404 have been expelled under Title 42, which means most of the rest are here indefinitely.

The Times argues that the United States cannot return them to Venezuela – with which America has no diplomatic relations – but this assertion begs the fact that, as The Washington Post reported in JanuaryBiden had reached an agreement with Colombia to take back the Venezuelans who had resettled there.

Two million displaced Venezuelans have settled in Colombia, and more than one likely entered illegally. It does not appear, however, that DHS turned many apprehended Venezuelans back or even asked them where they lived before coming here.

I’m sympathetic to DC and New York, but I’ve spoken to officials in those much poorer border towns about their struggles with costs. Maybe now that the Democrats are complaining, the administration will finally pay attention.

Andrew Arthur, former INS associate general counsel, congressional staffer and staff director, and immigration judge, is a resident law and policy scholar at the Center for Immigration Studies.

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