So here’s a question. If people fleeing violence in Central America have a legal right to seek asylum here in the United States, why aren’t they all simply walking through legal ports of entry in populated areas like San Diego and El Paso? Why would they travel by busload or crowds of three hundred out into the dangerously remote deserts of, say, New Mexico?
In a word: metering.
I had a whole draft going on the subject, but in the course of my research for it I found this four-minute video by the New York Times that pretty much says it all.
How This Trump Policy Is Triggering Chaos at the Border
By Christoph Koettl, Sameen Amin, Sarah Stein Kerr, Natalie Reneau and Drew Jordan
Since 2014, more families have been arriving, and many of them are seeking asylum, a human right protected by both U.S. and international law.
The Trumps administration's hard-hitting crackdown includes a tactic called metering.
Entering through an official border crossing is one way to request asylum. But that's become more difficult under Trump.
The practice of metering allows border agents to limit the number of asylum seekers that are processed each day by delaying them from setting foot into the U.S. We can see it in action here at the Paso Del Norte Crossing in El Paso, Texas. Officers are standing right at the border, trying to intercept people before they get to the border station.
This tactic is deliberate. Once people reach U.S. soil, they have the right to claim asylum.
But if they never cross the border, they have to come back another day.
Metering is not new, but the Trump administration has taken it to a new level. [...]
But as the government is limiting asylum seekers, they're still funneling people to these same ports of entry to seek asylum. [...]
This is creating bottlenecks. Here in Tijuana is a vivid example of how metering plays out. Thousands of migrants are stuck. Human rights observers say that some are camping in squalid and dangerous conditions.
The situation is leading migrants to try riskier routes through desolate terrain, where they're at greater risk of dehydration and other illnesses.
They're showing up in places like Antelope Wells, New Mexico. It's extremely remote and mountainous. Antelope Wells is part of the El Paso border area, which has seen a dramatic increase in the number of families crossing far away from official border stations.
As you can see here [below], this increase happened right when the practice of metering expanded. And many are crossing in groups of a hundred or more, like this one that arrived in January.
But these remote outposts lack facilities, especially to deal with children. […]
The practice of metering is forcing people through more remote routes, in turn overtaxing these far-flung outposts and putting a strain on officers. It’s also leading to ever more dangerous consequences for migrants.