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We see a lot of sensational headlines and stories lately about the “crisis at our border” and its effects on our society. It’s so easy for our first response to these stories to be fear and an instinct toward self-preservation.

First let’s acknowledge the fact that yes, there is a crisis. However, it’s not a crisis of invasion, but one of staggering humanitarian need.

The migration that we see at our borders is one thread in a world wide web of displacement that spans the globe.

August 2023 was the highest number of encounters at our southwest border in years with about 233,000 total encounters with immigration officials. We hear reports of over 8,000 border crossings in a single day, and often the first impulse to respond to that is fear. Are we being invaded? How can we accommodate so many people? Where will they all go? 

But let’s not forget that in late winter of 2022, over a million Ukrainians fled the country within one week. While large numbers of people fleeing across international borders are a sign that something is very wrong, they are not inherently something to fear. Perhaps we simply need a reminder that those fleeing gang violence and systemic corruption hold just as much value in the eyes of God as those fleeing a military invasion by Russia. 

The approximately 2 million encounters with migrants at our southern border in fiscal year 2022 was a small number when compared to the 108.4 million people who were reported by UNHCR to be displaced globally at the end of 2022. 

When we look at some of the most significant areas of displacement in the world, the numbers are staggering:

  • Over 7.7 million people have fled Venezuela in search of protection 
  • 6.3 million refugees have fled Ukraine as of June 2023
  • 5.2 million people from Syria have registered as refugees in neighboring countries, and an additional 6.8 million Syrians are internally displaced
  • 2.3 million Afghans have fled as refugees or asylum seekers (only about 80,000 were evacuated to the United States following the fall of Kabul)
  • Over 1 million people from the Democratic Republic of Congo are living in neighboring countries as refugees or asylum seekers, and 5.8 million are displaced within their own country

When we hear sensational stories about migrants that are designed to trigger a fear response within us, let’s pause and take a step back. There is no invasion of our borders; there is a serious humanitarian crisis that’s been happening across the world for years. Looking away from the crisis and externalizing our border enforcement to keep the crisis off of our soil is not a solution. We need our leaders to stop pushing partisan talking points and using human beings as pawns. We need strategies that couple solutions for root causes of migration across the globe with proactive solutions for our outdated and broken immigration system here in the United States. In other words, we need our leadership to be proactive rather than reactive on immigration reform.

Resources for Further Reading:

As migration surges in Americas, 'funds simply aren't there' for humanitarian response, UN says | AP News 

UNHCR - Refugee Statistics 

Key facts about recent trends in global migration | Pew Research Center 



Written by Sheila Joiner