To border security expert Todd Bensman, it was a sign of things to come.
In late December, around 400 Cuban migrants kept in Mexico by the “Remain in Mexico” policy of the Trump administration stormed the bridge at the Juarez entry point and attempted to push their way into El Paso, Texas. They believed they would be allowed to cross the border because Joe Biden was about to become president. Many in the crowd chanted “Biden, Biden, let us in!”
Though they were eventually turned back, Bensman—reporting from the Mexican border near the attempted incursion — told an InsideSources roundtable Tuesday the trend of unrealistic expectations and frustrating disappointments among the would-be immigrants is growing.
“There’s thousands of Cubans in Mexico who are there under MPP [Migrant Protection Protocols, the formal name of the “Remain in Mexico” policy] who are just demanding to get in. What they were telling me this week is that they are planning to do another ‘Bonzai’ mass migration…at some undisclosed place between the points of entry.”
Bensman, a Senior National Security Fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, has been at the Juarez-El Paso checkpoint interviewing migrants and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) staff since Biden took office. He says the migrants waiting at the border don’t understand they’re still required to remain in Mexico and genuinely believe the Biden presidency means open borders – for them, at least.
And whether they’re part of a caravan of migrants from Central America or in the crowd along the border, Bensman says the migrant community is wired into the latest news and rumors on the internet. “I’ve never met a Central American migrant without a smartphone and full access to social media. A real-time grapevine plugged into DC immigration policy decisions.”
He says the migrants waiting at the border don’t understand they’re still required to remain in Mexico. Fed up with the delay, many of the undocumented and asylum seekers alike are attempting to cross the border illegally, with some being caught by Border Patrol and others getting through.
“The migrants that they’re catching are angry, surprised, sometimes they cry and sometimes they fight. They’re not being welcomed in and they don’t understand why that is,” Bensman said. He quotes one migrant from Brazil who’s been in Mexico under MPP for a year but is confident she will be able to live in America if she can just cross the border — even if her asylum claim is rejected.
“I suspect everything changed with the new president. There’s a new president! There are new rules. There’s a new law!”
And one of those new laws — technically a memorandum from Biden’s Department of Homeland Security — is already having an impact. Bensman said that in the wake of President Biden’s 100-day deportation freeze, a CBP source told him a number of detainees awaiting deportation were already being released to migrant advocacy and resettlement organizations.
Ironically, during Bensman’s presentation news broke that US District Judge Drew Tipton had temporarily blocked the deportation moratorium, saying the Biden administration had failed “to provide any concrete, reasonable justification for a 100-day pause on deportations.”
The Biden administration is expected to appeal the ruling.