We think of an invasion as an armed assault on a nation. In our history classes, we were taught about instances like the Nazi invasions of neighboring European countries, the ancient Roman Empire’s onslaught of surrounding nations, or maybe North Korea’s attempt to impose on her southern counterpart.

But recently, several notable Republicans and conservatives have referred to the current record-breaking surge in illegal immigration as an “invasion.” On Fox News, Tucker Carlson has questioned, “Will anyone in power do anything to protect America this time…or will leaders sit passively back as the invasion continues?” Regarding the potential negative impact of unchecked illegal migration, Rush Limbaugh once stated, “The objective is to dilute and eventually eliminate or erase what is known as the distinct or unique American culture…This is why people call this an invasion.” Even some Border Patrol agents share this sentiment. Art Del Cueto, a Tucson Border Patrol agent, stated, “This is not migrants coming into the country, this is nothing short of an invasion.” Though mass illegal migration is different than the typical instances we associate with the word “invasion”, quotes like these point to how the phenomenon is tied to deep concern for the very integrity, stability and cohesiveness of the country.

Since President Biden took office in late January, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) apprehensions have skyrocketed. Perhaps the most astonishing development is the record number of unaccompanied minors who are entering the country. In March, almost 19,000 minors crossed the U.S. border. In 2019 and 2020, there were 977,509 and 458,088 encounters at the border, respectively. However, in 2021, there are already 749,613 encounters at the border, and that is only counting the data from January to April.

Since April, CBP has continued to be overwhelmed. On June 4, Austin Skero, Del Rio Sector Border Patrol Chief, sounded the alarm that “in just the last seven days, our agents have encountered over 5,800 migrants from 29 different countries…During this same time, 63 smuggling attempts were caught on our highways.” Since October 2020, more than 119,000 undocumented immigrants from 70 different countries have been seized at the Del Rio Border Sector alone.

Migrants are also coming from more distant countries like Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Haiti. This fiscal year, more than 32,000 Ecuadorians were stopped at only five border sectors and 13,000 Brazilians were apprehended at the Yuma, Arizona sector. For comparison, in 2018, there were less than 40,000 migrants who were not from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, or El Salvador.

This spike dovetails with the implementation of the Biden administration’s immigration policies, which are far more lenient than those of the Trump administration. On his website, President Biden stated that he would “end the Trump Administration’s draconian policies, grounded in fear and racism…”. He also acted immediately to end Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” program and pumped new life into the DACA program. After hearing this, “the smugglers and traffickers got the message loud and clear and cranked up their business” noted the Heritage Foundation. This theory is supported by the evidence of increased CBP encounters in 2021.

Another growing concern related to the unprecedented number of illegal migrants entering the country has to do with the process of assimilation or integration into American society. Unlike legal immigrants, undocumented immigrants are not required to learn about the American government and culture. Legal immigrants must be educated on the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, and American culture before they can become citizens. They are encouraged to remember their home country, but ultimately to be loyal to the United States. Most importantly, they are taught about what being an American means and how to be an active, participating member of society while assimilating into the country’s civic culture.

Illegal immigration short circuits this process. Illegal migrants can remain oriented around the culture of their home country. In Tucker Carlson’s words, “This [illegal immigration] is really destroying one culture and replacing it with a new foreign culture.” That is exactly what an invasion is: an attempt to subvert a country’s established order and culture. And that is exactly what mass, unchecked illegal immigration threatens to do.