Less Hysteria, More Solutions on the Border, Migration Please

Simon Rosenberg
6 min readMar 23, 2021

In a new op-ed I make the case that Brazil’s failure to contain its new COVID variant has become a threat to the entire region, one which the US should respond to by standing up a comprehensive campaign to defeat COVID throughout the Americas.

Standing up such a regional defeat COVID/build back better effort will also help the US create a clearer predicate for launching a long term strategy to bring peace, stability and prosperity to our Southern neighbors in Central America and perhaps Mexico too — a long overdue priority which will, among many other benefits, help stem current and future flows to the border. The rising rates of Mexicans apprehended at the border this year suggests that the weakening of the US and regional economies due to COVID has started creating migratory pressures in countries beyond the Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras) — something which could get far worse if the kind of COVID outbreak we are seeing in Brazil spreads across the region. Part of our strategy to stop the current rising flow to the border should be to stand up a broad based regional campaign to defeat COVID and help the countries of the Americas stand their economies back up.

As for what’s happening at the border today, let’s look at some of the new data available to us now. First, the current flow is within recent and historic norms. This thread of various Pew Research reports shows that if we see 1m-1.2m border apprehensions this year we will be very much in line with the annual flows the US saw from the mid 1980s to the late 2000s, a time when we had far fewer border patrol. It is also in line with 2019, the last year of data before COVID dramatically slowed the flows in 2020. As Pew begins its most recent analysis: “The U.S. Border Patrol apprehended nearly 100,000 migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border in February, the tenth consecutive month of increased apprehensions and a return to levels last seen in mid-2019.” This Pew report finds that after years of reduced flow, things really picked up in 2019, and that what we are seeing now is a continuation of trends in place prior to Biden becoming President. A new analysis in the Washington Post today comes to similar conclusions. The huge flows we saw in 2019 came of course at a time when the President Trump was in the White House and Mitch McConnell controlled the Senate.

Simon Rosenberg

I run NDN/NPI, a DC think tank. Clinton & DNC alum, Tufts grad, Aspen Crown Fellow. Father of 3 great kids, truly lucky husband. Proud globalist.