There is no border crisis in Jennifer Rubin’s alternate universe

Jennifer Rubin is nothing if not dedicated to spinning things for her team. Her team is now the Biden administration and so she’s been eager to downplay the ongoing crisis at the border even if that means she’s contradicting her paper’s own reporters. Over the weekend Rubin wrote a piece titled “Hey, whatever happened to the border crisis?” that reads like a dispatch from an alternate universe.

A few weeks ago, all Republicans — and in turn, the White House press corps — could talk about was the border crisis. As thousands of migrant children arrived at our southern border after fleeing life-threatening conditions in the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, Republicans claimed that President Biden — even though he repeatedly warned migrants not to come to the United States — was the reason for people sending their kids to travel thousands of miles under dangerous conditions.

Notice that she linked to a story at CNN. She did not link to this more recent piece by the Post’s immigration reporter which highlights the ways in which Biden’s actions helped generate the current border surge:

The prudent tone Biden’s team sounded in December was harder to detect on Inauguration Day, as the guardrails started coming off. Biden issued more executive orders and actions on immigration than any other topic, including a 100-day deportation moratorium and a halt to border wall construction…

Word soon spread that families with children younger than 7 years old were being allowed to enter the United States and released from custody. Families fitting that profile began rushing to that span of the border, where U.S. agents were already overwhelmed by soaring numbers of teens and children arriving alone.

In short, Biden’s mouth may have said “don’t come” but his actions were signaling a new approach in which all children and many families were now being admitted by the border patrol. Back to Rubin and this next bit is particularly special:

The administration was caught flat-footed by the issue, but it made clear that the number of arrivals kept pace with the usual seasonal trends plus some pent-up demand to leave Central America due to two hurricanes and the pandemic. Biden officials vowed to get things under control.

Biden did say that, apparently based on a piece published by the Post’s Monkey Cage vertical. And it’s certainly true that piece did claim the number of arrivals were the result of seasonal trends plus pent up demand. At least that’s what it said initially. After the Post’s immigration reporter argued this was based on out-of-date information, the authors revised this piece and added this important line: “What is more unusual at this moment is the increase in border crossings by unaccompanied minors, which appears to be more than just a seasonal pattern.

Again, the Post’s reporter covering immigration left no doubt about this: “At a March 25 news conference, Biden falsely described the increase as a seasonal norm, not a result of his policies or approach. “The truth of the matter is: Nothing has changed,” Biden said. “It happens every single, solitary year.”

I really don’t know why Jen Rubin is still making claims about seasonal patterns that both the authors and the Post’s beat reporter say are false. It’s like she heard a version of this she liked and can’t bring herself to admit that version wasn’t true.

…for the most part, immigration seems to have disappeared from media coverage. What happened? CNN on Friday thankfully caught us up to speed: “The number of unaccompanied migrant children held in jail-like conditions by US Customs and Border Protection dropped nearly 84% in the span of a month, according to a White House official, underscoring the significant progress made by the administration after reaching record high custody figures.” Moreover, there has been “a nearly 80% reduction in time spent in Border Patrol detention.”

The number of migrants is still at historic highs, but so long as these children are processed swiftly and humanely and given a chance at a far better life than what they fled, is it a “crisis”? Think of it this way: Instead of saying: “In March, the Border Patrol apprehended 18,663 unaccompanied minors at the US-Mexico border, up from the previous month, according to the agency’s data,” it would be more accurate to say, “In March, the Border Patrol rescued 18,663 unaccompanied minors fleeing life-threatening conditions, the overwhelming majority of whom were quickly processed and placed in appropriate settings.”

That’s some spin, right there. According to Rubin, it doesn’t matter how many kids show up at the border so long as they are “processed swiftly.” And then she goes on to say they were rescued from life-threatening conditions. It’s not clear if she even knows that the US doesn’t grant asylum to every person who shows up and claims they want a better life or even to every person who says their life is being threatened. In fact, the majority of these migrants are almost certainly economic migrants who will eventually be determined ineligible for asylum. At that point they’ll be asked to leave the country. Few will ever leave so she’s right about the ultimate outcome but she skipped over the part where they make a farce of our entire system.

The administration is facing a crisis — two, in fact. And it is working on both. The first is that the violence, hunger and damage from hurricanes in Central America remains so bad that children are forced to flee. Vice President Harris has been meeting with the Northern Triangle countries to address the underlying problems that cause the mass migration and working on ways to abet the suffering…

The United States has yet to ameliorate the conditions that force parents to send their children here, but it is providing safe haven for thousands of children.

This is the argument that if only things were better at home migrants wouldn’t come here. That may be true in some ultimate sense but practically speaking foreign aid is unlikely to make a big difference in the number of people wanting to migrate to the US. In fact, most of the Northern Triangle migrants who are coming here now come from relatively better off portions of their home countries. The truly poor don’t have the resources to hire coyotes or make the journey. So sending aid to these countries, while it might be justifiable on humanitarian grounds, isn’t going to solve the migration influx. In fact it could increase the number of people who can afford to make the journey.

That’s enough. Jen Rubin is spinning a story designed to help Joe Biden’s poll numbers. The fact that she has to direct her readers away from contradictory passages in her own paper shows you how much she cares about the truth.

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