The influx of migrant children into the US has plunged in the past two months, “from more than 10,600 apprehended in June to just over 3,000 in August”:
One major culprit is the hot summer weather, which could discourage migrants from making the journey from Central America to the United States. But at the same time, the Obama administration has engaged in an aggressive public-relations offensive in Latin America to warn parents against sending their children here. And immigration courts nationwide have expedited processing cases of the migrants recently caught at the border, putting those hearings ahead of others in line. “The system is, by and large, working,” said Kevin Appleby, the director of migration policy for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “If anything, they need to ensure that the children are receiving the appropriate due process and we’re not violating our own law or international law.”
But Danny Vinik isn’t celebrating:
The ultimate answer is that we just don’t know why so many unaccompanied minors came across the border this year or why it is falling now. One reason may be that the administration ran multiple ad campaigns to deter parents from sending their kids north, explaining that the journey is dangerous and the kids wouldn’t be allowed to stay. The Mexican government also stepped up enforcement on its side of the border. And the weather may be having an effect as well. It’s still tough to tell the exact reasons. Given that, it would be foolish to make sweeping policy changes, like House Republicans voted to do before the August recess.
That’s not to say this situation does not require action. The thousands of kids who came across the border still need housing and food. The immigration courts are still backlogged. This crisis isn’t over. But it’s a different one than policymakers originally imagined. It’s not about border security or stopping the flow of unaccompanied minors. It’s about fairly handling the ones who are already here. That’s a very different problem.
(Chart via Vinik)