The DeSantis Airlift Crash – The Atlantic


This week, like almost every week, federal agents will drop off hundreds of people at the bus station in Brownsville, Texas. These people will fill out paperwork, then board a bus — or sometimes a flight from Brownsville Airport — to other destinations across the United States. On a busy day, up to 600 people could pass through the city, Mayor Trey Mendez told me last week. “They’re real sophisticated travelers,” Mendez said. “They usually have their arrangements made by the time they get here. They are very good at using technology to get where they need to go.

The turnstile’s approach to border crossings such as Brownsville provides the emotional backdrop for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ Martha’s Vineyard airlift last week: Office. This stunt appears to have involved deceptive and possibly illegal methods. It can end up in a courtroom. For now, it’s upsetting the policy.

When President Joe Biden or Vice President Kamala Harris refer to the supposedly “orderly” process at the US-Mexico border, routine transit through places such as Brownsville is what they have to the mind. Migrants dropped off at the Brownsville bus station have invested a lot of time and money to reach the United States from Central America, from Venezuela, from Haiti, and even further afield. Most know exactly where they want to go and who will meet them there. They’ll only be in town for a few hours, maybe just one night. They have not come so far to linger on the way.

Not everyone crossing the border is taken to a bus station. US authorities released figures through August 2022 yesterday: One month into fiscal year 2022, border arrests topped 2 million for the first time in history. In July alone, Border Patrol recorded some 200,000 encounters on the southern border. About 75,000 of these encounters resulted in almost immediate deportation from the United States – although, as the patrol itself notes, many of those deported will subsequently repeat their attempt to enter. (Repeat cruisers generate lots of stats: encounter, withdrawal, encounter, withdrawal, until they finally escape patrol and enter the United States.) deportation, but in the meantime means detention for some and release inside the United States for many others.

Immigration statistics are bizarre and confusing, but the bottom line is that the post-COVID United States is receiving people at the highest rates in recent history.

Not all persons released in the United States are necessarily “illegal immigrants”. Many have applied for asylum and, under international treaty and US law, they are entitled to a hearing on that application. Republican voters, however, tend to discount the fine line between those crossing the border illegally and those crossing to assert their rights in the legal asylum system. Most post-2020 asylum seekers come from Central American countries and 65% of Republicans reject their right to seek asylum. Central America, after all, is not a war zone. Asylum seekers are not oppressed on the basis of their race or religion. They escape poverty and violent crime, not persecution in the usual sense of that concept.

A Fox News poll this month found that 56% of Republicans describe themselves as “extremely concerned” about immigration, more than crime, the war in Ukraine, guns, climate change or the state of American democracy. Only inflation and rising prices have more excited Republican voters.

Theoretically, asylum seekers have only been accepted into the United States on a provisional basis, subject to the review of their claims by an immigration judge. But the rush of applications has overwhelmed the immigration courts. Cross the border, avoid immediate deportation, and you’ll be allowed to live and work in the United States for years to come. Lose your case in front of the immigration judge and you can appeal in federal courts. If you lose again, the government must apply for an eviction order. Other calls can then follow. When and if asylum seekers exhaust their last legal recourses, there is always the possibility of abandoning the justice system altogether and betting that the authorities will not understand or catch up. It’s usually a winning bet.

The use of the asylum system as an alternative immigration corridor did not begin under President Biden. Migrants crossed the border in mid-2014 and again in 2016; and in the early months of the Trump administration they also arrived in large numbers. In December 2018, the Trump White House enacted its “stay in Mexico” policy. People crossing the border into the United States to seek asylum would be sent back to the Mexican side pending their hearing. This obviously removed much of the incentive to travel to the United States to file a claim – and the wave of border crossings slowed significantly after May 2019. Then COVID-19 hit, the US labor market s collapsed, and for a time the border crossing plunged. lower still.

At the start of his first term, Biden decided to end the “stay in Mexico” policy (although that was challenged in court and ultimately carried out last month). Then the post-COVID labor market accelerated. Predictably – and it was expected – the border crossing rush has resumed.

The Biden administration seems to have hoped the crossings would go down on their own. In May 2021, a statement from the White House welcomed that “the total number of unique Southern Border encounters so far in this fiscal year remains lower than the total number of unique encounters to date in fiscal year 2019. under the Trump administration. But the strength of the US labor market doomed those deceptive early hopes. By mid-summer 2022, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had counted five job postings for three out of work – and word went around the world.

In the United States, about 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day. Young workers are not as committed to the labor market as their elders who leave. Even now, in the fall of 2022, working-age Americans are less likely to be employed or looking for work than pre-pandemic working-age Americans. The Chamber of Commerce estimates that 3.4 million Americans who would otherwise be working are missing out on the job market.

To restore order at the border, two things must first happen: border rules must change, and more Americans must return to work.

You would think that politicians seeking votes on the issue of immigration would come up with ideas to meet both of these necessities. But this is not the case.

Instead, leading critics of the Biden administration have launched harsh and deceptive stunts. They tricked asylum seekers onto buses and planes, promising to take them to work, but instead dumped them on the sidewalk in front of the vice president’s residence or stranded them on the vacation island of Martha’s Vineyard.

Much has been said about the cruelty of these stunts. Operation Martha’s Vineyard was particularly unpleasant, as it was designed to make it difficult, if not impossible, for asylum seekers to meet their first court dates.

But something else is also going on, something even stranger and darker.

As Matthew Gertz of Media Matters said underlineDeSantis obviously got the idea for his Martha’s Vineyard airlift from a Tucker Carlson monologue from July 26 (obviously, readers shouldn’t trust his numbers):

Joe Biden got 70% of the vote on this small island in Massachusetts. Over the past four years, according to FEC data, 92% of all donations from its largest city, Edgartown, have gone to the Democratic Party. So you probably imagine that Edgartown is quite diverse; I mean, the Obamas live on the island, don’t they? No. In fact, we checked. At last count, Edgartown is 95.7% white. What century are we? In 2019, only 3% of all people, all residents of Edgartown, were born outside of this country. So do the math: that’s 17 people in total. It is effectively zero diversity, which means zero strength. They want more diversity. Why not send migrants there? In large numbers. Let’s start with 300,000 and work our way up from there. As the island gets stronger, more.

Embedded in this text, which inserted a concept into the mind of the Governor of Florida, is a theory of how and why immigration occurs. It does not respond to prompts, signals, and rules, not even perverse prompts, signals, and rules. It’s a conspiracy. It is a punitive conspiracy inflicted on Real America by cosmopolitan elites. The correct response to this conspiracy, the theory goes, is not to tackle incentives, signals and rules. The right answer is to retaliate against the cosmopolitan elites responsible for immigration by also imposing punitive diversity on them.

This way of thinking is conspiratorial, paranoid and vengeful.

It’s also wrong and stupid.

No one who thinks this way about immigration will be able to do anything about immigration. If you don’t understand how things work, you can’t fix things when they go wrong.

Trump’s border wall was a pretty dumb idea. But it corresponded to reality. The frontier existed, and it could be fortified. The cost could be extreme, the benefit negligible, but the construction work could be done.

The Carlson-DeSantis theory of immigration, however, describes nothing of what exists in this world. It is a fantasy, born of the reactionary imagination.

Maybe DeSantis knows that. Maybe not. At this point, what does it matter? He campaigns as the man who will channel his party’s most brutal impulses. DeSantis is testing whether he can fight his way, Trump-style, to his presidential nomination. But Trump’s one-term presidency has shown the limits of trying to force his way through office.

Reality is real; he can be ignored on cable news but not from the White House. A great country cannot be ruled by juvenile memes from hate-filled forums.


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