Biden to Send More Troops to Southwest Border

... to process asylum applications. This plan to ‘send the Marines’ reeks of desperation

By Andrew R. Arthur on May 3, 2023

The latest kerfuffle in the ongoing (and yet somehow still escalating) fiasco at the Southwest border is a Biden administration plan to send active-duty military personnel to the U.S.-Mexico line. Not to defend U.S. sovereignty, mind you, but to process asylum applications for illegal migrants so they can be released as quickly as possible. This last-minute move after 13 months of DHS planning for the end of Title 42 reeks of desperation.

“Send the Marines”. Tom Lehrer is a professor of mathematics who has taught at Harvard, MIT, and elsewhere over the course of his 95 years. He was best known in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, however, for his witty and occasionally risqué musical parodies. He’s still popular in certain circles and gave away his music last November, so if riffs on the periodic table or Oedipus Rex are your thing, have a free listen.

One of his compositions is “Send the Marines”, which begins:

When someone makes a move

Of which we don't approve,

Who is it that always intervenes?

U.N. and O.A.S.,

They have their place, I guess,

But first — Send the Marines!

The Wall Street Journal reports that Biden is literally sending the U.S. Marine Corps to the Southwest border, and soldiers as well, but not because anyone has “made a move, of which the administration doesn’t approve”. Rather, it’s to “help with some of the administrative tasks — such as helping process requests from asylum-seeking migrants in need of immigration court dates”.

The Effect of Judge Wetherell’s Order in Florida v. U.S. That’s actually a fairly key responsibility (though likely not what teenagers agreed to when they walked through the silver hatches at Parris Island), thanks to a recent order issued by Judge T. Kent Wetherell II of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida in Florida v. U.S.

The state of Florida filed suit in that case in September 2021, alleging that the Biden administration was ignoring provisions in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that mandate the detention of illegal entrants at the Southwest border.

Eighteen months and a load of discovery later, Judge Wetherell largely agreed, vacating DHS’s “Parole + ATD” program, under which the department had released hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants on parole under section 212(d)(5)(A) of the INA on “alternatives to detention” (ATD).

Among the issues Judge Wetherell had with Parole + ATD is that aliens who were released under the program were not served with Notices to Appear (NTAs), the charging documents in removal proceedings or given court dates.

Thus, Parole + ATD required DHS to find and serve those released aliens with NTAs while they were freely living in the United States. But worse, as the court explained:

[P]rojections show that every 90 days Parole + ATD continues, the policy creates a backlog that takes 5.5 years and $49 million to clear. And this backlog only accounts for the time needed to begin removal proceedings — not the additional time required to complete those proceedings and remove aliens. By these estimates, the backlog created by Parole+ATD will take decades to overcome.

In fact, AP reported recently that ICE offices in the interior “have become so overwhelmed with processing migrants for court that some asylum-seekers who crossed the border at Mexico may be waiting a decade before they even get a date to see a judge”.

That followed up on an NBC News report from February that 588,000 migrants released under Parole + ATD and on a similar program known as “Notice to Report” (NTR) haven’t received court dates yet.

Keep that in mind the next time that you hear DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas claim that most aliens are “promptly removed” if their asylum claims are denied. In reality, that process could take decades, at which point he and Biden will be long gone, and it will be up to somebody else to clean up their mess.

“Done in Haste, Regretted in Leisure”. Why was DHS releasing migrants on NTR or Parole + ATD instead of at least giving them NTAs and court dates? Judge Wetherell explained that, too: “The ... record indicates that the ‘processing time’ for issuing a NTA is between 2 to 2.5 hours, whereas Parole + ATD only takes 15 to 30 minutes.”

As he added, however: “It is implausible that [Border Patrol] could meaningfully assess an alien’s individual circumstances in 15 to 30 minutes.” If anything, it all proves the truth of the aphorism, “done in haste, regretted in leisure”.

But that’s why the Biden administration is sending 1,500 Marines and soldiers to the Southwest border — to complete NTAs and the other paperwork required to move illegal migrants out of custody as quickly as possible, so as to free up limited detention space and move the next bunch in.

I’m not advising either Mayorkas or the commandant of the Marine Corps, but the troops would be better utilized erecting more detention facilities for those migrants. Again, as Judge Wetherell made clear, DHS is under a statutory obligation to detain nearly all of them and the reason why so many are coming now is the likelihood that Biden’s going to release them.

Those resources are going to be used; they might as well be used productively. But, at least for now, they won’t be.

Desperation. The noisome stench of desperation wafts from this latest stop-gap plan to respond to the chaos that will follow in the wake of the end of Title 42 on May 11.

It’s not like the administration didn’t know that date was coming down the pike — Biden is the one who gave the order to end Title 42 on January 30. And that was only after he originally attempted to end Title 42 last May (before he was enjoined by court order in a different case), and after yet another court order set Title 42 to end on December 27 (before it was enjoined by the Supreme Court).

All told, the Biden administration has had more than a year to prepare for the end of Title 42, and it has responded with either “unserious” proposals (issued last April) or facially illegal ones (published by the White House on January 5).

Here’s what Mayorkas wrote in that April 2022 plan:

DHS has undertaken a deliberate and methodical approach to readiness prior to and for [the termination of the Title 42 Order]. Following months of planning based on multiple potential scenarios, we are pre-positioning and expanding available resources. We are also conducting extensive testing of processes that have not been used at scale since the implementation of Title 42 and new approaches ... .


The preparations and deliberate planning detailed in this memorandum will enable us to manage and mitigate known and unanticipated challenges more effectively, while protecting the safety and security of our communities.

The plan is written in terms of “Border Security Pillars” (there were six), but I haven’t seen pillars get pushed aside so rapidly since Samson got his hair cut by Delilah.

Worse, Mayorkas asserted in that document:

The greatest asset in our border security network is the DHS workforce. ... This includes CBP Agents and Officers; other agency law enforcement personnel; personnel from the Department of Defense (DOD), which has supported CBP operations since 2006, and the DHS Volunteer Force.

I’ll note as an aside that Mayorkas didn’t refer to his “DHS workforce” in such glowing terms when mounted Border Patrol agents in Del Rio were getting thrown under the horse, as it were. But more saliently, if that cadre of DoD personnel was enough for such “a deliberate and methodical approach to readiness” then why is Biden calling in 1,500 more Marines and soldiers now?

Because neither Mayorkas nor Biden nor whatever unnamed but over-promoted zealot(s) who has been masterminding the administration’s feckless immigration policies has any idea what they are doing.

You don’t have to trust me, however. Here’s what Biden’s first Border Patrol chief, Rodney Scott, said in a letter to Senate leadership in September 2021: “Common sense border security recommendations from experienced career professionals are being ignored and stymied by inexperienced political employees”.

Nothing should disabuse those who believe that Joe Biden has some unseen master plan for securing the border more than the fact that, after 13 months of what Alejandro Mayorkas has called “a deliberate and methodical approach to readiness”, the president is calling in the Marines nine days before Title 42 ends.