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What Do Suffocation Deaths of Trafficked Latino Migrants Say About Biden's Border Policy?

© AP Photo / Julio CortezIn this March 21, 2021 file photo, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent looks on near a gate on the U.S.-Mexico border wall as agents take migrants into custody, in Abram-Perezville, Texas.
In this March 21, 2021 file photo, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent looks on near a gate on the U.S.-Mexico border wall as agents take migrants into custody, in Abram-Perezville, Texas. - Sputnik International, 1920, 29.06.2022
At least 51 Latino migrants died in a tractor-trailer abandoned in the suffocating heat in San Antonio, Texas, on June 27. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has blamed the tragedy on President Joe Biden and his "deadly open border policies."
"Gov. Abbott is right; the Biden policies are directly responsible for encouraging migrants to pay smugglers to bring them across the border illegally, and for enriching the smuggling organizations to the extent that they have expanded their deadly business so much over the last 18 months," says Jessica M Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies based in Washington, DC.
She believes that "until the Biden policies are changed to deter and prevent these mass illegal crossings and to impose consequences on illegal migrants, it’s only going to continue and to get worse."
"It’s not possible to curb the illegal migration without policy changes," Vaughan insists.
Following Joe Biden's decision to reverse his predecessor's border policies, the number of illegal entries started to rise. On March 10, 2021, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported that it had encountered 100,441 persons attempting entry along the southwest border in February 2021, which represented a 28% increase over January 2021, when Biden was sworn in. US immigration experts noted at that time that Biden's campaign vows to impose a deportation moratorium, extend protections for those called "Dreamers" and provide a path to citizenship for about 11 million illegals, invigorated migrant caravans.
Migrant caravan on its way to the US - Sputnik International, 1920, 19.01.2021
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The US Customs and Border Protection reported in June 2022 about a staggering 239,416 encounters along the southwest land border in May, which represented a 2% increase compared to April. Of those, 25% involved individuals who had at least one prior encounter in the previous 12 months, the report reads. The flow of illicit narcotics including cocaine, methamphetamines, heroin, fentanyl, and marijuana across the border has also been increasing, according to the CBP.
The unfolding border crisis has long been in the making, according to Dr. Aileen Teague, an immigration expert from the Texas A&M Bush School of Government and Public Service.
"President Biden's current immigration policies are not solely his," she says. "They follow decades of an inability to reach consensus on both sides of the aisle. Biden has been a bit 'wishy washy' on Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) and telling immigrants to 'not come' soon after entering the White House, but besides a murky rhetoric of reform, many of 'his' policies long predate his presidency."
Asylum seeking migrants from Central America await transport after crossing the Rio Grande river into the United States from Mexico on a raft in Penitas, Texas, U.S., March 12, 2021. REUTERS/Adrees Latif/File Photo - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.03.2021
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What's Behind the Federal Government's Inaction?

Last week, Republican Rep. Andy Biggs described the situation at the US-Mexico border as "overrun," "out of control" and "dangerous". He also predicted more deaths would soon be discovered. Nevertheless, "the federal government has not lifted a finger to help the states cope with this influx," according to Vaughan.
"The reason that the Biden administration has not acted to regain control of the border is because they are not concerned about the harm to American communities that this crisis is causing," she says. "They are isolated from its costs, and they hope to reap political benefits, in the form of support from the special interests who profit from this influx, which include certain big businesses, ethnic advocacy groups, and a few leftist politicians."
Republicans are accusing the Democrats of deliberately loosening border policies and promising to legalize illegals to beef up their electoral base. Immigration reform could become an "electoral bonanza" for the Dems, Politico noted in April 2013. At the same time, a 2013 Pew Research revealed that of the Latino immigrants who are eligible to vote, "many more identify as Democrats than as Republicans – 54% versus 11%."
Meanwhile, many powerful US business lobbies such as the agricultural industry, rely on exploiting cheap and illegal non-citizens for seasonal labor. Out of 11.3 million illegals, eight million have jobs, according to CBS News. The basic rights of these unauthorized workers aren't protected. In addition to that, big business capitalizes on mass immigration to drive wages down and to combat organized labor.
 In this Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021 file photo, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at the opening of a monoclonal antibody site in Pembroke Pines, Fla.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.04.2022
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Local Leaderships Struggle With Illegal Entries

Some Republican-controlled states have tried to tackle the border crisis through a series of local legislative initiatives and border operations.
In particular, the Texas governor and attorney general withstood Biden's executive order signed on day one of his presidency stipulating a 100-day pause on the deportation of illegal immigrants. On March 5, 2021, Gov. Abbott kicked off Operation Lone Star, bringing together the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas National Guard to prevent Mexican cartels and other smugglers from moving drugs and people into the state.
"State and local leaders along the border and beyond should be using any and all state authorities to disrupt human smuggling and trafficking pathways using existing laws," says Vaughan. "In addition, they should try to discourage or penalize the NGOs and other entities that contract with the federal government to resettle the migrants, including the child welfare agencies, charter transportation companies and charity assistance groups."
However, the fight to curb the tide of illegal migration could be accompanied with human right abuses, warns Aileen Teague:
"Local leadership in many places supports grassroots initiatives to ensure that outside of politics, immigration policies don't have offshoots that affect human rights," she says. "In the absence of hire level reforms, initiatives of basic human decency are badly needed as are local and mid-level leaders who are willing to share their experiences."
© AFP 2022 / DREW ANGERERWASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 21: U.S. President Joe Biden arrives to speak about Covid-19 vaccines for children, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on June 21, 2022 in Washington, DC.
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 21: U.S. President Joe Biden arrives to speak about Covid-19 vaccines for children, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on June 21, 2022 in Washington, DC. - Sputnik International, 1920, 29.06.2022
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 21: U.S. President Joe Biden arrives to speak about Covid-19 vaccines for children, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on June 21, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Are Migrant Deaths Yet Another Punch to Biden?

The latest gruesome discovery of 51 dead migrants in Texas could deal "another blow to Biden’s presidency and will further tarnish his legacy of incompetence in the minds of voters," according to Vaughan.
A number of Republican politicians have already raised their voices against the Democratic administration's handling of the border issue.

"How many more people have to die before Dems give a da--?" asked Texas Senator Ted Cruz commenting on the matter, as quoted by Fox News.

GOP Rep. Tony Gonzales from Texas criticized US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas for the suffocation deaths of trafficked migrants:
"Today in San Antonio it was 102 degrees. Imagine being abandoned inside an 18-wheeler left to die - 42 people died today - will @AliMayorkas even mention their names?" Gonzales tweeted.
However, given that Joe Biden and the Dems have a lot on their plate, including disrupted supply chains, growing inflation and looming recession, it's unlikely that the recent tragedy would make the matters any worse, some observers believe. Possibly, the Texan tragedy will be also overshadowed by the nation-wide debate on the Supreme Court's decision to overturn the Roe v. Wade abortion ruling, according to Teague.
"I'm not convinced that Biden's immigration and border security policies will be detrimental to the Democrats at midterms," she presumes.
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