Three Factors Driving the Desire for Migration from Mexico to the US

The surge in migrant arrivals at the US-Mexico border has reached unprecedented levels during President Joe Biden’s tenure, posing significant political challenges for him leading up to the election. Recent polls indicate that over two-thirds of Americans disapprove of Biden’s handling of the issue, amplifying the pressure on his administration.

This surge isn’t solely a concern for Republicans; even Democratic mayors in cities grappling with the influx are expressing discontent. Under Biden, the number of migrants detained while crossing into the US illegally has surpassed figures from the administrations of Trump, Obama, and George W. Bush, totaling over 6.3 million.

Several complex factors contribute to this spike. Firstly, there’s pent-up demand following lockdowns, particularly evident among Central Americans escaping various crises such as gang violence, poverty, political oppression, and natural disasters. Mobility restrictions in 2020 significantly reduced detentions, but upon their lifting in 2021, numbers began steadily rising again, with diversified flows from regions like Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and even as far as West Africa, India, and the Middle East.

Secondly, global migration trends show a surge in migration to wealthy nations, including the US. The OECD reports a substantial increase in permanent migrants to its member states, with the US ranking second only to Germany in humanitarian migration. Escalating displacement worldwide, exacerbated by failed states, contributes to this phenomenon.

Lastly, the change in leadership from Trump to Biden in 2021 played a role. Trump’s rhetoric emphasized border security, including the infamous border wall and increased deportations. Biden’s administration adopted a different approach, with a softer stance on enforcement and a shift away from deterrent-focused policies. This change in tone, coupled with perceptions of easier entry into the US, spurred increased migration and emboldened human smugglers.

However, criticism abounds. Some migrants believed entry into the US would be simpler under Biden, fostering a sense of urgency to reach the border. Yet, others criticize both the Biden administration and lawmakers from both parties for failing to enact significant immigration reform, leaving the system largely untouched for over three decades. As a result, bipartisan efforts to address the issue face formidable challenges, casting doubt on the prospects for meaningful reform.

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