Experts say the rise in apprehensions is largely due to seasonal shifts in migration.
Several Republican governors sent a letter to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday, placing blame for the GOP-manufactured border "crisis" squarely on the Biden administration.
The letter demanded Biden and Harris take action on the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border, where officials have seen a rise in apprehensions of unaccompanied minors, suggesting the administration's policies had encouraged people to cross over unlawfully.
"This administration has enticed a rush of migrants to our border and incentivized an influx of illegal crossing by using irresponsible rhetoric and reversing a slew of policies—from halting border wall construction to eliminating asylum agreements to refusing to enforce immigration laws," the governors wrote.
"The cause of the border crisis is entirely due to the reckless federal policy reversal executed within your first 100 days in office," they continued. "...The disastrous impact of your policies on America's recovery will be far-reaching."
The letter was signed by 20 Republican governors, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.
Experts, however, say the recent rise in border apprehensions may largely stem from both seasonal shifts in migration patterns and repeat attempts by those turned away under Title 42, an expulsion order first enacted under Donald Trump and kept in place by the current administration, which allows officials to block immigration under the guise of public health concerns stemming from the pandemic.
Researchers at the University of California at San Diego analyzed U.S. Customs and Border Patrol data and found that undocumented immigration often shifts upward during the spring season, before the warmer summer months make it all but impossible to make the trek from Central America, where many of those seeking asylum in the United States are coming from. According to their findings, total apprehensions also increased by 31% in the spring months of fiscal year 2019 during the Trump administration.
The experts combined CBP data on total apprehensions from fiscal year 2012 to 2020 to demonstrate that seasonal shifts were effectively predictable.
"Migrants start coming when winter ends and the weather gets a bit warmer," they said. "...Migrants stop coming in the hotter summer months when the desert is deadly."
The San Diego researchers further noted that there is no evidence to suggest Biden's policies had caused a "crisis" at the border.
"The Trump administration oversaw a record in apprehensions in fiscal year 2019, before the pandemic shut the border. This year looks like the usual seasonal increase, plus migrants who would have come last year but could not," they added, noting the bottleneck caused by COVID-19 closures.
Moreover, policy experts have said Republicans' messaging on the border "crisis" is little more than political narrative.
"Republicans want to say it's a crisis because if you say it's a crisis that means a Democratic administration has a crisis on its hands and what it's doing. They can bludgeon the administration," Theresa Cardinal Brown, the nonprofit Bipartisan Policy Center's managing director of immigration and cross-border policy, told U.S. News & World World Report in April. "...That is a completely political messaging battle. It is about Republicans wanting to tar the Biden administration and the Biden administration not wanting to play into that."
Andrew Selee, who leads the Migration Policy Institute, agreed, telling the outlet, "I think a lot of this is political posturing."
"Migration goes up and down, that’s the reality of the border. Biden has different values and has given people hope, but there's no border crisis, to say so is political manipulation," immigrant advocacy group Arise's director Ramona Casas told the Guardian.
The governors' claim that Biden prompted a rise in unlawful crossings by stopping construction on the U.S.-Mexico border wall are also false, given the physical barrier has proven ineffective at addressing the issue.
Dudley L. Poston Jr., sociology and demography professor at Texas A&M University in College Station, noted in an Associated Press article that a large number of undocumented immigrants aren't crossing the southern border undetected somehow, but are frequently individuals who come into the country lawfully and simply overstay their visas.
"[Donald] Trump’s wall won’t be high enough to keep them out," he wrote.
Further, millions of other undocumented immigrants avoided detection while entering the United States or employed fake documents in their border crossings, according to Poston.
Meanwhile, evidence shows that the wall itself, which Republicans have frequently hailed as an effective measure at keeping people out, can be breached or scaled with simple tools and cheap ladders.
A common industrial tool could saw through a steel slat prototype of the border wall, a photo obtained by NBC News from a 2019 Department of Homeland Security report showed.
Some have also used "do-it-yourself" style ladders to climb over the border barrier, the Texas Monthly noted.
Scott Nicol, an activist who opposes the border wall, told the outlet, "These ladders are probably $5 worth of hardware and they’re defeating a wall that cost $12 million a mile in that location."
"It’s made of cheap, rough wood, quickly nailed together because it is only going to be used once," he continued. "Unlike the wall, these ladders are functional."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.