In recent years, the world has witnessed a significant surge in the number of individuals crossing borders in search of safety, security, and a better future. Numbers have skyrocketed from 65.6 million people forcibly displaced worldwide at the end of 2016 to more than 117.3 million – or one in 69 individuals – by June of 2024. This unprecedented increase has sparked debates, raised questions, and ignited controversies about the root causes of this surge and how best to address it.

This surge is not confined to a single region or continent; it is a global phenomenon that transcends borders and affects countries around the world. From the shores of Europe, where refugees brave treacherous sea crossings in search of sanctuary, to the deserts of Africa, where migrants traverse inhospitable terrain in pursuit of opportunity, the impact of this migration wave is felt far and wide.

Understanding the Surge

To unravel the complexities of the border crisis, we must delve deeper into the harsh realities faced by individuals in regions plagued by economic instability, political unrest, pervasive violence, and the impacts of climate change. 

Central America

In Central America, countries like Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala grapple with soaring homicide rates, gang violence, and political instability, driving many to flee their homes in search of safety and security. In these communities, daily life is fraught with the constant threat of violence, extortion, and forced recruitment by criminal gangs, leaving individuals and families with few options but to seek refuge elsewhere.

Africa and the Middle East

Similarly, across the African continent, conflict, persecution, and human rights abuses have uprooted millions of people, forcing them to flee their homes in search of safety and protection. In war-torn countries like Syria, Yemen, and Sudan, civilians are caught in the crossfire of brutal conflicts, facing indiscriminate bombings, displacement, and the collapse of essential services. The devastating impacts of protracted conflicts and political instability have created a dire humanitarian crisis, driving millions to seek refuge in neighboring countries or embark on perilous journeys to distant shores


One of the most significant humanitarian crises of our time is unfolding in Venezuela, located in the north of South America. As of August, Venezuela has produced 7.7 million refugees, a staggering number that reflects the severe economic collapse, political repression, and widespread violence within the country. The Asylum Program of Arizona (APA) has been instrumental in helping several Venezuelan refugees apply for Temporary Protected Status, while also assessing their cases for referral. This support is crucial as these individuals seek safety and stability in the face of immense hardship.


Haiti is also in crisis, with gangs terrorizing the populace and the country in political turmoil. The New York Times recently reported on the escalating violence and instability, highlighting the urgent need for international intervention and support. The APA is committed to assisting Haitian asylum seekers, providing them with the necessary resources and legal representation to navigate the asylum process.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors, exacerbated by the devastating impacts of climate change, further compound the challenges faced by vulnerable communities. In regions already grappling with poverty, food insecurity, and limited access to resources, environmental degradation, natural disasters, and erratic weather patterns pose additional threats to livelihoods and well-being. From droughts and desertification in sub-Saharan Africa to hurricanes and flooding in the Caribbean and Central America, environmental crises exacerbate existing vulnerabilities, pushing communities to the brink of survival.

Global Geopolitical Tensions

Beyond these regions, geopolitical tensions and power struggles, particularly in areas like the South China Sea and the Korean Peninsula, contribute to regional instability and displacement. In China, government crackdowns on dissent and religious freedoms have led to the persecution and displacement of ethnic and religious minorities, including Uyghur Muslims and Tibetan Buddhists. The impact of these crises reverberates far beyond their borders, shaping global migration patterns and posing significant challenges for destination countries like the United States.

The U.S. Border Crisis

For the United States, the surge in border crossings has sparked intense debate and scrutiny over immigration policies and border security. The influx of migrants, particularly unaccompanied minors and families, has strained resources and overwhelmed immigration authorities, leading to overcrowded detention facilities and logistical challenges in processing asylum claims. The border crisis has also reignited discussions over the need for comprehensive immigration reform and efforts to address the root causes of migration, both domestically and internationally.

The Biden administration recently moved to restore the nation’s refugee admissions program, moving to resettle more than 100,000 refugees in one year – the largest number in three decades. At the same time, in response to mounting political pressure, the administration implemented a new rule allowing authorities to quickly deport migrants caught crossing the border without inspection – without (except in rare circumstances) the chance to seek asylum. Only those able to secure one of a limited number of appointments through an app will have the chance to enter and apply for asylum. The “asylum ban” is being challenged in court. Meanwhile, human rights advocates urge the nation to confront the interconnectedness of global migration dynamics and the need for coordinated, compassionate responses to address the root causes of displacement and protect the rights and dignity of migrants and asylum seekers.

Power Struggles and Community Dynamics

Internal conflicts and power struggles within communities further complicate the migration landscape. In many regions, violence, persecution, and insecurity have become pervasive, driving individuals and families to flee in search of safety. The erosion of social cohesion and trust within communities exacerbates these tensions, leaving individuals vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, and displacement.

The decision to flee is often fraught with peril, as individuals weigh the risks of staying against the uncertainties of leaving. For many, the choice to embark on a perilous journey in search of refuge is one of last resort—a desperate bid for survival in the face of untenable circumstances.

Policy Implications and Responses

The border crisis has prompted a range of policy responses, from increased border enforcement and deterrence measures to calls for more compassionate and humane approaches. However, the effectiveness of these policies remains subject to debate.

Existing border policies often fail to address the underlying drivers of migration and may inadvertently exacerbate vulnerabilities among migrant populations. Calls for reform and alternative approaches emphasize the importance of addressing the structural inequalities, violence, and injustice that fuel displacement and forced migration. The American Immigration Council also has 13 recommendations for building a “modern and functional system of humanitarian protection and border management.” Included among them are a surge of resources to improve the processing of migrants and funding for counsel in immigration court to ensure a fair process.

Humanizing the Crisis: Stories from the Ground

Amidst the statistics and policy debates, it’s essential to remember that behind every number is a human story—a story often involving resilience, courage, and hope. Personal narratives and testimonies from individuals affected by the crisis provide insight into the lived experiences of migrants and refugees.

These stories underscore the urgency of addressing the root causes of migration and implementing policies that uphold the rights and dignity of all individuals, regardless of their nationality or immigration status. They remind us that behind the headlines and political rhetoric are real people with real hopes, dreams, and aspirations.


The truth behind the border crisis is complex, multifaceted, and deeply rooted in the socio-economic and political realities of our world today. To address this crisis effectively, we must move beyond simplistic narratives and confront the underlying drivers of migration while treating refugees with compassion, empathy, and respect. 

Fostering understanding, advocating for change, and supporting humanitarian efforts are essential steps in addressing the border crisis and creating a more just and equitable world for all. As we navigate these challenging times, let us remember that behind every statistic, policy debate, and political headline are the lives and futures of millions of individuals who deserve our empathy, compassion, and support.