WHEN OTHERS ARRIVE: In fairness, the New York Times has tried to explain...


...the chaos of our procedures: As we noted yesterday, we're forced to say that John from New York didn't have it totally right.

More specifically, he didn't have it totally right concerning the way the New York Times—and even, perhaps, the Washington Post—has covered, or has at least attempted to cover, the tortured and torturous topic of American immigration policy and procedure.

John called C-Span's Washington Journal on Sunday morning. In our view, he made a good point—or at least, he made a good point on balance. 

But along the way, he overstated the state of play concerning the work of the New York Times. As we noted yesterday, this is the way he began:

JOHN FROM NEW YORK (9/18/22): Yeah, thanks for taking my call.

The topic today is "GOP governors send migrants to Democratic areas." Now, it took this long for this topic to come front and center in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and actually be front and center on the Washington Journal. 

Basically, this has been going on for—since Biden was elected president. The first day in office, he changed all kinds of restrictions with executive orders. We've had two million people coming across our borders, and we haven't discussed it until Ron DeSantis and Abbott, the governor of Texas, sent a couple of busloads with a couple of thousand people to New York City...

Had John been discussing the conduct on "cable news," we'd say his statement was basically accurate. 

As we noted yesterday, immigration issues are endlessly discussed on Fox News, though with something less than obsessive accuracy. 

By way of contrast, such issues are very rarely discussed on blue tribe cable channels. Instead, our tribunes obsessively focus on our one controlling topic:

Trump Trump Trump Trump Jail.

That said, the New York Times has made several attempts, in recent months, to explore this hopelessly complex topic, sometimes in front-page reports. 

In these reports, the Times has tried to explore the complexities which get massacred on Fox and ignored by MSNBC. Consider the report which appeared in print editions on August 6, appearing beneath this headline:

Bused Far From Border, to Shelters, Tents and Park Benches

Miriam Jordan penned the report. In print editions, it topped the first page of the paper's National section.

As she started, Jordan described the plight of a recent migrant from Venezuela. This was an early attempt by the Times to discuss a certain "political tactic" being pursued by a pair of Republican governors:

JORDAN (8/6/22): Lever Alejos was out of money and out of options when he arrived in South Texas last month, after an arduous journey from Venezuela that culminated with him crossing the Rio Grande in water up to his chin. The Border Patrol quickly arrested him, and after his release, he was offered a choice: a $50 bus ride to San Antonio, or a free bus ride to Washington, D.C., paid for by the State of Texas.

“I wanted San Antonio, but I had run out of money,” said Mr. Alejos, 28, who has no family in the United States. “I boarded the bus to Washington.”

A few days later, he arrived in the nation’s capital, among a busload of weary migrants. He spent the first night in the plaza across from Union Station but eventually found a bed at Central Union Mission, where he hopes to stay until he can apply for asylum, get a work permit and find a job—a process that could take months.

Offered a choice, Lever Alejos took the bus ride which would be free. As she continued, Jordan offered the background on the choice Alejos had been offered:

JORDAN (continuing directly): A political tactic by the governors of Texas and Arizona to offload the problems caused by record levels of migration at the border is beginning to hit home in Washington, as hundreds of undocumented migrants arriving on the governors’ free bus rides each week increasingly tax the capital’s ability to provide emergency food and housing.

With no money and no family to receive them, the migrants are overwhelming immigrant nonprofits and other volunteer groups, with many ending up in homeless shelters or on park benches. Five buses arrived on a recent day, spilling young men and families with nowhere to go into the streets near the Capitol.

Amazing! Migrants were arriving at the southern border "with no money and no family to receive them." According to Jordan, many were ending up "in homeless shelters or on park benches." They'd been allowed to enter the country, but they had nowhere to go.

In that passage, Jordan described a certain "political tactic by the governors of Texas and Arizona"—a tactic designed "to offload the problems caused by record levels of migration at the border."

In that passage, Jordan seemed to empathize with officials in D.C. while possibly snarking a bit at the "political tactic" of the Republican governors. Later, though, Jordan offered a thumbnail account of those governors' stated concerns:

JORDAN: Cities along the border in Texas and Arizona have at times been overwhelmed with a surge in unauthorized border crossings that peaked under the Biden administration, which has sought to unravel some of the harsh border restrictions imposed by former President Donald J. Trump.

While thousands of migrants have been swiftly expelled under a pandemic-related health order known as Title 42, thousands of others are being allowed into the country to pursue asylum claims because they cannot be returned to Mexico or their own countries.

State officials in Texas and Arizona have been greeting many of the migrants after their release from U.S. Border Patrol custody, offering them free bus rides to Washington in a bid to force the federal government to take responsibility for what they say is a failed immigration system.

After reaching their destinations, migrants may remain in the country for months or even years while they fight their deportation cases in court; they are allowed to work while they pursue asylum claims.

The situation has become acute in recent weeks with the arrival of so many Venezuelans, who cannot be expelled under Title 42 because Mexico will not take them and their own government does not have an agreement with the United States to accept deportation flights. And unlike most migrants from Mexico and Central America who have family and friends in the United States, Venezuelans often arrive with no money and nowhere to go.

We can't begin to capture all the complexities explored in Jordan's full report. These complexities tend to get massacred on Fox while being wholly ignored on MSNBC.

Last week's flight to the Vineyard did change that state of affairs. Suddenly, these immigration issues were being cited all across the blue tribe's world as well as over on Fox.

That said, the situation was being explored in a highly partisan way. On September 6, the Times had made another attempt to flesh these complex matters out. It did so with a front-page report which now carries these headlines:

Biden Administration Has Admitted One Million Migrants to Await Hearings
The presence of asylum seekers in the United States is both a humanitarian challenge and a political flash point in a divided country.

In this report, Eileen Sullivan took Times readers all the way to Portland, Maine. Sullivan began her report with this remarkable portrait:

SULLIVAN (9/6/22): At a modest hotel a few miles from the ocean here, most of the rooms have been occupied this summer by families from African countries seeking asylum—192 adults and 119 children in all.

They are among the more than one million undocumented immigrants who have been allowed into the country temporarily after crossing the border during President Biden’s tenure, part of a record-breaking cascade of irregular migration around the world.

Distinct from the hundreds of thousands who have entered the country undetected during Mr. Biden’s term, many of the one million are hoping for asylum—a long shot—and will have to wait seven years on average before a decision on their case is reached because of the nation’s clogged immigration system.

The hotel in South Portland is among a handful in the region, in addition to Portland’s family shelter, that are offering temporary housing for hundreds of new immigrants. Maine is unusual in that it allows asylum seekers to receive financial support for rent and other expenses, in part through its General Assistance program. 

Astounding! The migrants in question have, in fact, "been allowed into the country" as they pursue asylum status. They are separate and distinct from the hundreds of thousands who have entered the country undetected—without legal authorization.

That said, these migrants "will have to wait seven years on average before a decision on their [asylum] case is reached." And Sulivan says their chances for eventual legal success tends to be "a long shot."

In the meantime, as they wait, Sullivan further describes the complexity of these cases:

SULLIVAN: While immigration is among the country’s most hotly debated political issues, the focus is almost always on the surging numbers of people seeking to cross the southwestern border. Less attention has been paid to what happens to those who get released from government custody to lawfully await immigration court hearings and who end up scattered around the country. Some disappear into the shadows, never showing up for their court dates or required check-ins with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Others struggle to comply with reporting requirements in a system that is ever more overloaded and unorganized.

Their presence is both a humanitarian challenge and a political flash point for a divided country that has failed for decades to agree on who should be admitted, and for what reasons. It takes about a year before the federal government grants asylum seekers permission to work, and there is no designated funding to help support them in the meantime, as there is for refugees.

Astounding! According to Sullivan, it will take "about a year" before these people receive permission to work. After that, six more years before their cases are heard.

This is the ultimate portrait of a failing nation's failing systems. In the meantime, as in Casablanca, so too here:

"They wait—and wait, and wait."

In her front-page report, Sullivan said that immigration "is among the country’s most hotly debated political issues." That isn't exactly true on cable, where immigration issues are often demagogued on Fox while being ignored on MSNBC.

On Fox, you'll rarely hear the distinction drawn between (lawful) asylum seekers and those who enter the country without legal authorization. On MSNBC, you'll rarely much beyond this:

Trump Trump Trump Trump Jail.

Why is the state of Maine housing these migrants in those Portland motels? Eventually, Sullivan speaks to that question in her frpont-page report.

That said, the issues here are overwhelming and hopelessly complex. And, as Sullivan notes, these issues are all "part of a record-breaking cascade of irregular migration around the world," with attendant political problems on display in a wide array of lands.

These migrants—more specifically, these asylum seekers—wait and wait and wait. On Sunday, John from New York had the germ of an accurate point—but many C-Span callers repeated the familiar, comforting talking points of their warring red and blue tribes.

Our nation has largely ceased to exist in the face of such pseudo-discussions. In the meantime, as our giant nation fails, a very large number of good decent people wait and wait and wait.

Tomorrow: Dueling C-Span callers 


  1. tl;dr
    "The Border Patrol quickly arrested him, and after his release, he was offered a choice..."
    "They'd been allowed to enter the country, but they had nowhere to go."

    Oh dear. Talk about faithfully executing the Office.

    Unauthorized border-crossing is a crime. They quickly arrested him -- and then release. Dump a criminal on the streets, with no means to feed himself.

    ...if these are not grounds for impeachment, we don't know what is...

    1. Mao doesn't understand that even criminals are released on bond. Asylum seekers are released if they are not criminals wanted for serious/violent crimes. And why shouldn't they be?

    2. As a practical matter, most of these migrants are not waiting for a hearing. They're simply disappearing, and just living in the country illegally. Tens of millions of them are doing this. This massive illegal immigration is changing the nature of our country.

    3. David’s parents and grandparents changed the nature of this country.

    4. Pence said that 90% of migrants don't show up for their hearings, but that claim was given 4 Pinocchio's by the Washington Post fact checkers:


      Most show up for their hearings, with our without lawyers.

      "A new report released today by the American Immigration Council examines 11 years of government data on the rate at which immigrants appear for hearings in U.S. immigration court. The report, “Measuring In Absentia Removal in Immigration Court,” concludes that an overwhelming 83% of immigrants attend their immigration court hearings, and those who fail to appear in court often did not receive notice or faced hardship in getting to court."

    5. Why do Republicans such as David get to keep telling lies about this stuff without any consequences?

    6. @David
      Someone whose "journey from Venezuela that culminated with him crossing the Rio Grande in water up to his chin" most definitely isn't waiting for any hearings. Neither as a practical matter, nor theoretically. He's not entitled to a hearing.

      To get a hearing, he would have to arrive at an official border crossing and apply for asylum.

    7. Fortunately, we do not let Russian trolls decide which asylum seekers get hearings and which do not.

    8. As a practical matter, most of these migrants are not waiting for a hearing. They're simply disappearing, and just living in the country illegally. Tens of millions of them are doing this. This massive illegal immigration is changing the nature of our country.
      You know that? Because by most indications your claim is incorrect, David. Most of the asylum seekers -- not criminals, as shit-for-brain Mao calls them -- do stay within the confines of the system. So, where did you get your data?

    9. Oh dear.
      Your, dear Ilya, hate-mongering cult controls the federal legislature (not for long, hopefully).

      Consequently, it could easily de-criminalize unauthorized border crossings. To make "crossing the Rio Grande in water up to his chin" perfectly legal.

      In fact, your hate-mongering cult could legislate a reward for it. One million dollars to everyone "crossing the Rio Grande in water up to his chin"! So that they could afford a $50 bus ride to San Antonio. Or a 5-star hotel on Martha's Vineyard, if they prefer. Why not.

      So, why don't they do it, dear dembot?

    10. Mao: Your incoherent blathering aside, the law has not changed. When someone is detained at the border, they can claim asylum.
      PS: Occasionally, your posts I detect a glimmer of sentience -- alas! it does not last.


    11. Thank you for the kind words, dear Ilya, but if you're replying to my 6:13 AM, then something must be wrong with your monitor.

      You can claim whatever you want, but illegal entry is still a crime. Can we agree on that?

  2. Trump hasn't been president for two years. Why do they talk about him so much

    1. Let’s treat that as a serious question. Because he tried to overthrow the Government and install himself as dictator for life. Many of our elected officials in one of our major parties tried to help him do it. More flagrant
      lawbreaking followed, and it’s just
      possible he will be the candidate
      of said party again. Bob is an
      man/ child so he doesn’t care.
      Some of us do. Hope that

    2. Because Biden's policy has led to poor current conditions. If votes are based on inflation and other problems, the Republicans will win in November. The Dems' best hope for winning the election is to focus on Trump's many flaws.

    3. David, Biden's policies are helping people not worsening circumstances. Biden has an influx because covid prevented people from entering, not because he has implemented new policies. Congress is deadlocked because of Republican obstruction, not because Democrats don't care about immigrants.

      Inflation has been decreasing, so have gas prices. Republicans are going to lose in November because of Roe v Wade, so they are trying to increase concern about immigrants to whip up votes. The Dems best hope is to remind people of Biden's many accomplishments, all astounding! in the face of Republican intransigence. The more Dems to do that, the higher Biden's favorability ratings are (now higher than Trumps or Reagans at the same point in their presidencies). Trump is focusing attention on his own flaws -- Dems don't need to do a thing on that score. Our messed up immigration system is a legacy of Ronald Reagan, who regarded immigration as a positive influence on the economy and our society.

    4. Surely no one is dumb enough to believe that he tried to overthrow the government and install himself as a dictator. (He would have to control the army to do that.)

      Hyperbole like that would most likely be a scapegoat or a diversion from more important real issues.

    5. Trump tried to control the military by replacing people at the Pentagon during the final month of his term. His generals refused his illegal orders. We have yet to hear his attempts to mobilize on 1/6, but perhaps the 1/6 Commission will discuss that in upcoming sessions.

    6. 1:29,
      We won't know if he tried until we water board him.

    7. I could see where you would be concerned and scared that he would take control of the army and overthrow the government.

    8. I could even see why you would think that a commission two years later would reveal something importantly incriminating that no other government agency could find or act upon during that time frame. I can see where you would watch cable news and wait in anticipation for that expected, exciting reveal.

      It's interesting.


    9. @David,
      What flaws?

  3. Why should we spend time discussing the misunderstandings of a random caller on C-Span?

  4. Who does Somerby think funds and works for the humanitarian organizations that are helping legal asylum seekers in the US? People who care about people -- Democrats and blue tribe members. It certainly isn't the Republicans and especially not MAGA Extremists.

    Who put our current immigration system into place. Ronald Reagan, who considered immigration important to our workforce and a benefit to society.

    Who prevents immigration from being overhauled, fixed, funded properly to address backlogs of cases? Republicans, who obstruct everything Democrats want to achieve for our country.

    Somerby talks about increases in asylum seekers during Obama's and Biden's terms. These do not vary based on who is president -- they vary based on current events in the home countries that people are fleeing. Biden has an influx of people who could not come during covid.

    Republicans view it as to their advantage to make immigration as big a problem as possible, because that generates votes for their candidates. As long as Republican politics are obstructive, problems like this cannot be fixed. Migrants suffer, but so do our own communities, but Republicans do not care about human suffering. They don't even care about American businesses, who could benefit from access to labor. They only care about power and winning. As long as that is true, there are many problems Somerby might newly discover and write about. But Somerby only cares about owning the blue tribe, so his discussions will be aimed at pretending Biden invented immigration problems.

  5. "In the meantime, as our giant nation fails, a very large number of good decent people wait and wait and wait."

    Our giant nation is not failing simply because migrants must wait to be admitted. There are camps in Africa where refugees from wars elsewhere wait years too for admission to nations that will take them. We have a humanitarian network that means most of our asylum seekers will not be put into refugee camps or prisons any longer (Trump didn't worry about incarcerating people and even children).

    It is almost as if Republicans are accusing Democrats of wanting "open borders," which we do not have and do not advocate, while Somerby is blaming Democrats for allowing asylum seekers to approximate normal lives while waiting for a decision on their applications. There is no country that allows immigrants to just walk in and stay, regardless of who they are, short of evading legal procedures.

    Somerby acts as if he were just learning about immigration, but then where has he been all his life? Is this truly the first time he has learned any of this, with his repetitious "astounding!" wisecracks? And Republicans act as if they never had a hand in devising immigration law, as if they would slam the door shut and lock it against all immigration (as Trump tried unsuccessfully to do) while our borders are impossible to fence and defend against all crossing. And Somerby does not debate whether these people are an asset or a liability while he sheds today's crocodile tears, even while he ignored the kids in cages during Trump's term, when they were a major issue on the left. He was too busy deriding poor black kids for their NAEP scores or musing over Wittgenstein and mocking Einstein, I guess.

    1. An excellent movie on how American churches aid immigrants is Reese Witherspoon's "The Good Lie." Good decent people tend to held other good decent people who are having difficulties through no fault of their own.

  6. And still not a word about the more prosperous undocumented immigrants, who fly here as tourists and simply stay here. How would Somerby stop them?

    I find it humorous that Somerby has no idea how many Americans are living in Mexico illegally (without going through any procedures to obtain permanent residency). The largest group of illegal immigrants in Mexico is Americans, at 1.5 million, mostly overstaying visas.


  7. It appears that the people transported by red states may receive U Visas (special status ahead of asylum applicants) because they are now victims of human trafficking. That will speed up the process for them. I doubt that was Abbott's or DeSantis's intention -- to help those people who they used as pawns to own the libs.

  8. While we’re thinking about immigration, let’s not forget election fraud.


  9. “Biden Administration Has Admitted One Million Migrants to Await Hearings”

    Sullivan’s article says this:

    “The million who have been allowed in since Mr. Biden took office — a figure that comes from internal Homeland Security data and court filings…”

    There is no link, and no corroboration of this figure. This is all she says about the source of her information.

    Would it have been so difficult to provide the source for her claim?

    Also, there is this: “Republicans have rallied around the message that the Biden administration is to blame for the record number of border crossers — although more than a million were similarly allowed into the country on a temporary basis over a two-year stretch of the Trump administration,”

    So what’s the difference, if any, between the Trump and Biden numbers?

    Also, the Biden administration “admitted” this many. If the people are requesting asylum, doesn’t the administration have an obligation to provide them a hearing? Did Biden change something about the process that means his million asylum seekers are admitted differently than Trump’s?

    Also, it’s a typical Somerby tactic to claim that the blue tribe doesn’t discuss immigration, when entire sections of the Post and Times are devoted to immigration. That’s where he got the stuff he printed here today. Somerby implies that, because he doesn’t see the topic covered on MSNBC, that means the blue tribe must be uninformed about these matters.

  10. Those good decent people are trying to create lives and support themselves and their families while they wait. Some on the right want to make that extraordinarily difficult for them. How about that for humanitarianism?

    Those folks on that flight to MA included families with children. Why would a decent person decide to ratfuck their lives? As Ron DeSantis, as I hope the many Cuban immigrants in FL will do. Greg Abbott apparently thinks the job of American Vice President involves running a soup kitchen. Someone needs to set him straight, hopefully in November, by voting for Beto. Fucking with immigrants is not our national sport, despite what Trump tells people at his rallies.

    Both of my grandparents were immigrants, surviving the great depression. I am proud of their resilience. Somerby is an asshole for trying to make political hay off of the struggles of today's new arrivals.

  11. “he was offered a choice: a $50 bus ride to San Antonio, or a free bus ride to Washington, D.C., paid for by the State of Texas.”

    Funding a bus ride to DC, almost 2000 miles from South Texas, would cost the State of Texas far more than a bus ride to San Antonio.

    And gee, did Mr Alejos really have a choice? He had no money. Odd to use the word “choice”, isn’t it.

  12. I have officially opened a criminal investigation against the individual(s) who lured and transported 48 migrants from the Migrant Resource Center in San Antonio, TX to Martha's Vineyard. If you or someone you know has been impacted, please email bcsotips@bexar.org


    1. Yeah good luck with that.

    2. Someone flew those planes. They will know who paid them.

  13. The game is to open the borders and let anyone come streaming in, and disappear. Then Democrats will continue to look for opportunities to allow them to vote fraudulently or legally, promising them free stuff.

    Don't let it happen.

    1. “Free stuff”…you mean like bus rides to DC?

    2. Exactly how would smaller government and free- market capitalism stem the immigration tide?
      By making the USA a shithole no refugee would want to set foot in?


    3. @1:48 PM

      Meh. We feel that the game is to lower the living standards of the US population, by introducing hordes of obedient, subservient low-wage workers into the economy.

      Roughly a modern equivalent of bringing scabs to man the factory, only in a much larger scale.

      Basically the same purpose as offshoring, only a different M.O.

    4. Mao, you don't live here, so you may not realize that there are help wanted signs in nearly every business window and businesses curtailing their hours because they cannot hire enough staff. Workers are avoiding the low paying work that might be done by immigrants.

      No immigrant is going to jeopardize their status in the country by attempting to vote fraudulently. There is no evidence at all of them doing so. This is more Republican "replacement" hysteria.

  14. Being swamped and lacking the resources to process a backlog quickly is not the same as chaos. Chaos is like when Trump separated kids from their families without keep records of who belonged with who, so families could be reunited.

    1. Right! This is treated as a new problem that Biden's policies have somehow created. It's nothing of a kind. As it so happens, there's a much higher influx of asylum seekers for a number of different reasons.

  15. How cute! Somerby has just discovered that immigration is a serious issue! It is like watching a baby take his first step!