Administration Fears Post-Title 42 Onslaught at the Southwest Border

At 12,000 migrant apprehensions a day, there is no border. At 18,000, there is no nation.

By Andrew R. Arthur on March 30, 2022

A March 29 Washington Post report is headlined: “Biden officials bracing for unprecedented strains at Mexico border if pandemic restrictions lifted”. That understates the main fact reported therein, which is that the Biden administration is preparing for an onslaught of aliens at the Southwest border as soon as CDC orders directing the expulsion of illegal migrants issued under Title 42 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic are lifted (which reportedly will happen May 23). If the estimates in there are correct, there will be no border, nor nation.

The Implications of 18,000 Aliens per Day. What do I mean when I say “onslaught”? According to the Post, DHS is planning for upwards of 18,000 migrant apprehensions per day. If DHS had to deal with two-thirds of that number (12,000 per day), there would, effectively, be no border. If DHS’s more pessimistic estimates are correct (and this administration has regularly underestimated illegal entries), and 18,000 per day enter, there will be no country.

Why do I say that? In a March 2019 interview, former DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson explained that he received daily updates on border apprehensions when he headed the department, and viewed fewer than 1,000 apprehensions a day as “a relatively good number, and if it was above 1,000 it was a relatively bad number, and I was gonna be in a bad mood the whole day”.

I did not agree with much that Johnson did when he was secretary of DHS, but I have respect for him and at one time he had respect for me, as well — when I was a Hill staffer, he sent me a personal letter thanking me for helping secure proper pay for Border Patrol agents. I certainly never thought that he did not “get it” when it came to border security.

Under Johnson’s watch, Border Patrol apprehensions at the Southwest border never exceeded 500,000 per year. That is not to say that he did not have a lot of “bad days” as secretary, but at least he understood when he had a problem, and had a plan to keep numbers low.

Consider the fact that 18,000 migrant apprehensions per day equals — roughly — 540,000 apprehensions per month. That is more aliens who Border Patrol agents must catch, process, house, clothe, feed, and transport monthly than they had to care for in a year under Jeh Johnson.

That care comes at a cost — both to the agents and to our national security. In mid-March I explained:

Agents are overworked and resources are limited, while the largest migrant surge in the nation’s history continues unabated. Regardless of what you may hear, there are too few agents and too few resources to stop drugs, contraband, and objectively bad people from coming in.

I wrote those words in response to CBP’s Southwest border apprehension figures for February, when agents nabbed 5,648 illegal migrants per day. If the Post is correct, DHS is anticipating more than three times that number as soon as Title 42 goes away.

Mayorkas Doesn’t Get It. Johnson’s latest successor as DHS secretary is Alejandro Mayorkas. I do not know the man, and have never met him, but nothing in his public statements suggests to me that he, like his predecessor, “gets it” when it comes to either Border Patrol agents or to the border.

At a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee in November, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) asked Mayorkas whether he thought the United States had “more control over the border now than we did under Trump”.

Eliding initially in his response, Mayorkas responded “We’re very focused on it.” I hope that is true given that more illegal migrants were apprehended at the Southwest border in FY 2021 than in any prior fiscal year in history, but as Graham (appropriately) retorted: “That’s not the question.”

When pressed, Mayorkas’s response was telling: “I think that we have more control consistent with our values as a nation.” What does that even mean? That Border Patrol agents were transgressing our nation’s principles prior to January 20, 2021? That our nation was doing so?

Neither Graham nor any other senator pushed Mayorkas for further explanation, but “homeland security” is one of our “values as a nation” — it’s right there in the title of the secretary’s department. Matthew 6:21 states: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Congress is investing more than $127 billion of our nation’s treasure in DHS for FY 2022 — $385.12 per U.S. resident.

“Border security” is as essential to “homeland security” as “healthy skin” is essential to “health”. States and localities could potentially handle crime, drugs, and terrorism even if there were no DHS — but only CBP can stop criminals, drugs, and terrorists from entering the United States to begin with, and they can’t do so when they have 18,000 illegal migrants to deal with daily.

DHS Has No Plan to Slow the Flow. Given this, what exactly is DHS’s plan to respond to as many as 540,000 illegal migrant apprehensions per month? According to the Post: “In preparation for a possible post-Title 42 border rush, the Department of Homeland Security has enlisted Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) officials to help prepare”.

That is great for ensuring the care and comfort of the migrants themselves, but what does that do to (1) slow the continued flow of illegal migrants to the United States; or (2) secure the homeland?

But it gets worse, because as the Post explains: “When U.S. agents ran out of capacity to hold and process migrants last year, DHS opted to release them from custody, with instructions to self-report to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement later on.”

That is all true — between March 21, 2021 (when the department began — without legal authority — to release aliens with such “Notices to Report”, or NTRs) and January 10, 2022, DHS simply released more than 94,000 aliens apprehended at the border into the United States on NTRs to report to ICE offices at their final destinations in the United States.

Many of those aliens failed to show, though how many is unclear because the administration is not telling. That is the tack that Mayorkas’s DHS took when it was dealing with an average of 2,785 aliens per day at the Southwest border who were not quickly expelled under Title 42. What will DHS do after Title 42 expires and CBP is encountering as many as 18,000 aliens per day?

To ask the question is to answer it. DHS is simply going to release those migrants into the United States in the hopes that they show up — which will simply encourage even more aliens to enter illegally in the (reasonable) expectation that they will be allowed to live and work here permanently.

DHS Only Just Realizing that There Is a “Long-Distance Migrant” Crisis. DHS does not have a clue what to do. As the Post reports:

“The nature and scope of migration has changed fundamentally,” said one DHS official, who briefed reporters and spoke on the condition of anonymity under rules set by the department.

The official said an “unprecedented” 40 percent of the migrants being taken into custody are arriving from countries outside Mexico and the Northern Triangle of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador that have traditionally been the largest sources for migration.

Mexico and Haiti, along with Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, account for a large share of the latest arrivals. Troubled relations between the latter three nations and the United States limit DHS’s ability to return migrants to those countries.

This is not “news” to anyone except, possibly, Mayorkas and DHS, because my colleague Todd Bensman and I have been reporting on this shift to “long-distance migrants” since at least July.

Despite this fact, the only White House initiative to respond to the migrant surge has been to focus (unsuccessfully) on the “root causes” of illegal migration from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras — from which fewer migrants (as a percentage, certainly not in real numbers) are coming.

Perhaps in the name of “fairness” the administration wants to give migrants from outside Mexico and Central America their shot at entering illegally.

18,000 Daily Border Apprehensions Is Unsustainable, and the End of the Nation. I do not want to engage in hyperbole, but if CBP encounters 18,000 illegal migrants per day at the Southwest border post-Title 42, we will cease to be a nation.

That figure equals out to 6.57 million aliens per year — far beyond any prior record, and a population larger than the states of Colorado (5.961 million), Maryland (6.065 million), or Missouri (6.185 million).

You don’t have to trust my analysis, however. Consider the following take from former President Barack Obama in September:

Immigration is tough. It always has been because, on the one hand, I think we are naturally a people that wants to help others. And we see tragedy and hardship and families that are desperately trying to get here so that their kids are safe, and they're in some cases fleeing violence or catastrophe. ... At the same time, we're a nation state. We have borders. The idea that we can just have open borders is something that ... as a practical matter, is unsustainable.

The Biden administration plainly sees the “tragedy and the hardship” of the migrants, but it appears to have no sense of the rest of Obama’s statement: We are a nation-state, we do have borders, and “open borders” are “unsustainable”.

If CBP gets to 12,000 apprehensions a day, our borders will be more “open” (by a magnitude of two to four) than they are now; if apprehensions rise to 18,000 a day (as DHS itself fears) once Title 42 ends (reportedly on May 23), the United States will have no borders and will cease being a “nation state” or a nation.