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The Gray Lady Hits the Wall

The New York Times is wrong again: Securing our borders does not prevent illegals from leaving.

(Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

In the unrelenting disinformation campaign about U.S. border security and illegal migration, the New York Times has outdone itself again. On March 8, Times journalist Miriam Jordan, writing from the “grassroots perspective on immigrants,” reported that many illegal Mexican migrants never intended to remain in the United States, but that the “cost and danger of crossing the border kept them here once they had arrived.” 

By that, Jordan did not mean that these migrants feared navigating back to their homes in Mexico through border territory controlled by that country’s ruthless criminal cartels, whose gunmen routinely extort ransom and indiscriminately murder. The reporter was in fact referring to U.S. government “policies to fortify the border, erecting barriers and deploying more agents.”  


The logic of Jordan’s article, loosely based on interviewing an undocumented Mexican family, is apparently that as the U.S. border has become progressively more effective in deterring migrant smuggling, illegals already in our country have felt unable to return home. “After facing risks and paying smugglers to cross the border,” Jordan explained, “undocumented workers stayed in the United States, rather than coming and going.” The New York Times’s newest doctrine in open-border ideology holds that securing the frontier is a counterproductive strategy because it ends the ability of migrants to unlawfully come and go as they choose, resulting in more just remaining in the United States.

It is true that some Mexicans, most often young laborers, move clandestinely back and forth across the border. Others avoid the border, obtain U.S. visas, fly north and overstay their permitted time (there is almost a 75 percent approval rate for Mexican visa applicants). Still other Mexicans—the law-abiding majority who never merit sympathy profiles in the Times—actually travel to the U.S. and adhere to the legal terms of their admission, respecting the concept that borders are a legitimate function of national sovereignty.   

Regardless of their travel scenario, all of these Mexicans in recent years understand that the greatest danger to themselves and their families comes from criminal cartels, who lord over all clandestine border movement, infiltrating their government institutions and corrupting lawful frontier activity. And it is precisely the Biden administration’s unprecedented open-border policies that feed these cartels by drawing millions of clandestine migrants from around the globe into Northern Mexico. A non-ideological Mexican federal government, defending that country’s legitimate interests and led by someone other than the dubious President López Obrador, would actually be outraged by this White House policy.

Jordan’s article, which purports to give the Mexican illegal migrant perspective on crossing into and out of El Norte, does not even make passing reference to this rampant criminality, an all-pervasive border reality that even a superficially honest analysis of the frontier situation would be required to acknowledge. 

Far from reporting on the real grassroots situation at the border, this Times piece only seeks once again to chastise any U.S. border security measures and spin a new theory in support of open frontiers, pointing to the impact particularly on illegal Mexicans, while implying the same phenomenon is also at work with other nationalities. Jordan’s logic is that years of U.S. border restrictions “backfired.” To further buttress the argument, the article quotes a Princeton University sociology and immigration professor, who explains: “Most of the [illegal Mexicans] never wanted to stay. We gummed up the works when we militarized the border.” Right.   


Let us clarify one central fact that this disingenuous report implies without stating: U.S. authorities place no special controls on Mexicans crossing south to return to their country. It does not matter if Mexicans are in the United States legally or not; their return is unrestricted unless they are wanted for a serious crime. On the south side of the border, no surprise, Mexican authorities invariably permit their countrymen to re-enter, requiring only that travelers put their personal documents in order.

This same no-restriction policy applies to Mexicans and all other illegal migrants who seek to return to their home countries by flying out of an American airport. Their reluctance to depart has nothing to do with any perceived DHS exit controls that might nab them (there are no exit controls at U.S. airports), but—obviously enough—everything to do with their lack of legal permission to re-enter the United States.

That said, border-control advocates should not underestimate what DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has next in mind while implementing the Biden administration’s frontier policies. It is a sure bet that Mayorkas will find common cause with the New York Times’s twisted logic that conventional border controls are actually counterproductive in the fight against illegal immigration.

Jordan’s article, however, is likely out of step with Mayorkas in estimating the numbers of illegal migrants in the United States. She asserts: “The current undocumented population has stayed relatively constant at about 10.2 million over the past several years after peaking at nearly 12 million in 2008, even with the large number of new arrivals at the border.” While it is true that some long-term illegal migrants do indeed self-deport, Jordan offers no credible source for her statistics or her claim that the illegal population is holding steady.

More credible analysis, undertaken by the Center for Immigration Studies, disputes the statistics in this story, explaining that the net increase of illegal migrants is up at least by one million since early 2022 (to about 11.3 million). Factoring in the Biden administration’s ongoing border chaos, that figure is rising sharply. This is a datum that even Mayorkas acknowledges as he continually trumpets that the “entire Western Hemisphere” is suffering a “migration crisis” and illegal crossings on the southern frontier are the “highest on record.” After all, it is this very crisis that Mayorkas uses to justify all of his new “legal pathways” to admit even more migrants.

We already know Secretary Mayorkas’s strategy to deal with the illegals is to legalize them by fiat. But no doubt he will welcome the New York Times’s novel approach to border security: suggesting that Americans should stop fretting about border chaos because undocumented migrants return home in such numbers the overall illegal population holds steady. Perhaps the Gray Lady’s next analysis will advise Mayorkas how America’s undocumented population could be reduced through smart border policies that prevent the entry of illegal migrants in the first place – but don’t count on it.