Biden Administration Floods Cities with Released Migrants

‘Do as I say, not as I do’ — the hypocrisy is glaring

By Andrew R. Arthur on October 24, 2022

Efforts by GOP governors in Texas and Arizona to bus illegal migrants released by DHS in their states to northern — and largely Democratic-controlled — cities have been a hot topic for the last few months. On October 19, the Washington Times has reported that: “The Biden administration is trouncing Texas and Arizona in sheer volume in the battle over busing migrants.” To quote a spokesman for Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R), “This seems to be a case of ‘do as I say, not as I do’.”

Governors’ Transport Program. In March, DHS started releasing illegal migrants into small Texas towns miles from the border. To take some of the pressure off those overwhelmed towns, Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) announced on April 6 that he would offer released migrants bus rides to Washington, D.C.

Abbott was soon joined in this migrant busing program by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R), and by late July, around 3,500 migrants had been transported to the National Capital area by the two states. That’s when D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) asked for federal help to deal with her migrant surge.

Around the same time, New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) sought federal assistance in dealing with migrants in his city, as well. Although Adams blamed NYC’s migrant influx on buses sent by Abbott and Ducey, that apparently wasn’t the case, but the mayor’s claims quickly encouraged Texas to send migrants to New York City, too.

Chicago was added to the itinerary for Abbott’s buses in August, and by October 7, the Texas Tribune reported that more than 10,000 migrants had been sent to the three cities by the Lone Star State.

That does not count more than 280 busloads of migrants the city of El Paso (which is controlled by Democrats) has bused to New York City, Chicago, and Miami or 50 migrants who were flown by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) to Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., in September.

The Times reports that the state of Texas has transported 12,500-plus migrants in toto, 8,200 of them to Washington, D.C., 3,300 to NYC, and 1,000 to Chicago, while the state of Arizona has sent out 2,200 others, all to D.C.

The Cities’ Response. In response to the migrants arriving in her city, Bowser declared a public health emergency in early September, creating a new Office of Migrant Services within D.C.’s Department of Human Services. That office is tasked with providing “basic needs to arriving migrants, including meals, transportation, urgent medical care, and transportation to connect people to resettlement services”.

In early October, with migrants swelling his city’s shelter system, Adams followed suit, demanding state and federal cash to provide additional housing and services to the migrants in NYC. As the New York Times explained then, Adams’ “declaration allows the city to open emergency relief centers more quickly by exempting them from the normal land-use and community-review process that often slows the opening of shelters”.

While families with children are being placed in hotels in NYC, on October 19 the city opened a tent city for single male migrants on Randall’s Island, complete with “cots for up to 500 people, laundry facilities, a cafeteria, phones and entertainment centers”. That’s right — entertainment centers, including Xbox. And, “culturally appropriate”, “South American fare”.

While Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) has resisted calls for a state of emergency in her city, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker (D) has issued his own, allowing him “to tap National Guard members to help coordinate logistics and fast-track housing and services for the migrants”. Cook County — home to the city of Chicago — is seeking federal aid to handle its migrants.

All three mayors — Bowser, Adams, and Lightfoot — have had a few choice words for Abbott’s bus plan. Lightfoot in particular deemed the governor a “man without any morals, humanity or shame”, while Adams decried the busing scheme as “inhumane”, “un-American”, and “unethical”.

Bowser was more circumspect, asserting: “I fear that they're being tricked into nationwide bus trips when their final destinations are places all over the United States”. In response, Abbott tweeted:

The Wrong Target. Here’s the problem: All three mayors and an untold number of other state and local officials likely have the wrong target, because again, as the Times’ reported, the Biden administration’s migrant transportation scheme puts the governors’ program to shame. How big is the federal effort? The Times reports:

The busing and flight operation has grown so big that the Homeland Security Department says it has had to siphon manpower away from its regular duties. The department acknowledged that is creating a vicious circle with less enforcement, which invites more illegal immigration, further overwhelming the border and demanding even more resources.

That article was based in part on a September GAO report captioned “Challenges and Efforts Implementing New Processes for Noncitizen Families”, which included maps showing the intended destinations of migrant family units (FMUs) released by DHS on “Notices to Report” (NTRs) and “Parole plus [Alternatives to Detention (ATD)]”, respectively.

New York state was the intended destination of “5,001 or more” aliens in FMUs released with NTRs between March 2021 and February 2022, and the Empire State was also the intended destination of “5,001 or more” FMUs released on Parole plus ATD during that period. How many more? There is no way to tell, but 10,002 is more than three times the 3,300 Texas has bused to NYC.

Texas and Florida also joined that “5,001 or more” club for both migrants released with NTRs and on Parole plus ATD, respectively, while California was expected to receive “5,001 or more” FMUs released on Parole plus ATD, but “only” between 1,001 and 5,000 FMUs cut loose with NTRs.

D.C., Maryland, and Virginia were each expected to receive between 1,001 and 5,000 aliens released both with NTRs and on Parole plus ATD, respectively, as was Illinois.

Keep in mind those GAO figures only involve FMUs — illegal migrant adults with accompanying children. There are no figures for the single adults who were released under the two programs.

Aliens in FMUs, however, account for just less than 42 percent of all illegal migrants encountered by CBP at the Southwest border and processed for removal since February 2021, so you can pretty safely double GAO’s stark but vague destination numbers.

The Federal Response. At some level, I can understand the frustration that Adams, Bowser, and Lightfoot have expressed about the thousands of migrants bused by border-state governors to their cities. Besides, it is an election year, so Republican governors are fair game for Democratic mayors.

What, however, explains the responses of DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus?

Back in August, Mayorkas blamed Abbott for failing to coordinate his bus program with the destination states, which he claimed was throwing his department’s processing of those migrants “out of whack”. Worse, the secretary contended: “That lack of coordination wreaks problems in our very efficient processing”.

Baroness Thatcher once remarked: “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t”. In that vein, if you have to tell people you have “very efficient processing”, you don’t, and as the Times make clear, while DHS might have migrant releases down, its coordination with migrants’ interior destinations is sorely lacking.

As for Magnus, the border chief complained in October that in transporting migrants from the border to interior cities where they are told that benefits and jobs are waiting, states are creating a “pull factor” that would encourage more migrants to come.

And yet, DHS now admits in the Times’ article that it’s the one that’s “creating a vicious circle with less enforcement, which invites more illegal immigration, further overwhelming the border and demanding even more resources”. That’s the definition of a “pull factor”.

Ditching Deterrence. A much more efficacious federal response would be to deter foreign nationals from entering the United States to begin with. That would require DHS to detain illegal migrants — as Congress already requires it to do — and to prosecute illegal entrants.

Alternatively, DHS could deter illegal migration by returning illegal entrants back across the border to await their removal hearings — the essence of the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), better known as “Remain in Mexico”.

The Biden administration, however, has rejected all three options. It wants Congress to cut detention funding (even as the migrant surge continues), prosecutions for illegal entries have plummeted under Biden, and the administration has been fighting in federal court since April 2021 to avoid having to reimplement MPP.

That’s because the White House — in a break from every previous administration — has ditched deterrence as a border strategy, opting instead to craft out of whole cloth “safe, orderly, and legal pathways for individuals to be able to access our legal system” — that is, to apply for asylum, regardless of the strength of those migrants’ claims or even whether they came seeking asylum at all.

Not only does that violate Congress’ mandate that DHS achieve and maintain “operational control” of the Southwest border, it is already having real-world, detrimental effects on the cities to which those migrants are headed.

If NYC — the financial capital of the world — is struggling to deal with a few thousand migrants, what will happen when tens — or hundreds — of thousands show up in Manhattan? Unless the administration’s policies change, that day is coming, and sooner rather than later.

The Times quotes Ducey spokesman C.J. Karamargin. Looking at Biden’s massive transportation scheme and the federal government’s complaints about Arizona, he responds, “Correct me if I’m wrong here, but this seems to be a case of ‘do as I say, not as I do.’” No apologies are needed — that’s exactly what’s happening, and the administration’s hypocrisy is glaring.