‘Biden’s Border Crisis and Its Effect on American Communities’

My opening statement at an August 8 joint congressional border hearing

By Andrew R. Arthur on August 10, 2023
Andrew Arthur testifying before congressional committees

On August 2, I was invited by Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wisc.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability’s Subcommittee on National Security, the Border, and Foreign Affairs to appear as a witness at a joint hearing that subcommittee was holding in Sierra Vista, Ariz., on August 8 with the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Federal Government Surveillance.

My (much longer) written testimony has been posted on the Center’s website, and if you want a full and complete history of immigration enforcement at the Southwest border over the past seven years, and a detailed analysis explaining why illegal entries at that border have spiked ever since Joe Biden took office, you will find it in that (57 page, single-spaced, with 325 footnotes) document.

When you testify before Congress, however, you aren’t allotted two hours to elucidate on the finer points of law and policy. You get five minutes, and expect to hear a gavel reminding you of those limits when the electric timer in front of you blinks from green to yellow and then to red.

To that end, here is my opening statement at the August 8 hearing, summarizing — succinctly — my key points:


Chairman Grothman, Chairman Biggs, Ranking Members Garcia and Jackson-Lee, and members of the subcommittees, thank you for inviting me today to discuss a topic crucial to our national security and communities across the nation.

I was honored to serve in the federal government beginning in the George H.W. Bush administration, and in my 32 years of involvement in immigration, the Southwest border has never been in such crisis. Border Patrol agents here have apprehended more than 5.6 million illegal entrants since February 2021, while CBP officers at the Southwest border ports have encountered more than a half-million more.

Some 2.7 million of those aliens were expelled under Title 42, leaving 3.4 million others who were processed for removal under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The fewer than 17,000 Border Patrol agents stationed at the Southwest border have struggled to keep up with that migrant flow, and at times there have been just a handful of them left to protect hundreds of miles of border.

Consequently, more than 1.5 million other entrants have crossed the border illegally and made their way into the country, scot-free, and tons of illegal drugs have flowed from Mexico into the United States, where they are hollowing out our communities and killing record numbers of our fellow citizens.

Listen to the administration’s spokesmen and you’ll hear that those migrants are coming and overwhelming border agents because of endemic factors like poverty, crime, corruption, violence, and insecurity back home, as well climate change and the lingering economic effects of the Covid pandemic.

Such “push factors” do play some role, but, as noted, most are endemic problems, and many were much worse in the past. In truth, the main and driving reason that more than six million aliens have come to the Southwest border in the last 30 months is, as a federal judge found in March, the reasonable expectation that the administration will release them into the country, where they’ll remain indefinitely, if not forever.

You see, rather than detaining aliens who cross illegally — as Congress’ laws require, the administration is abrogating your authority to set limits on immigrant entries and creating new pathways by which other aliens may enter, including by turning the CBP One app from a tool to facilitate lawful entries to the country to a means by which inadmissible aliens can schedule when and where they will enter the country.

The administration contends those aliens are “seeking to enter legally”, but that contention is legally and factually false. Regardless of whether inadmissible aliens cross between the ports or through them, the law requires they be treated exactly the same — and mandates their detention.

Instead of detaining those aliens, however, the administration has released at least 2.2 million of them into the country. Add in 1.5 million others who evaded apprehension, and more than 3.7 million aliens with no right to enter are now living and working in the United States.

That’s larger than the population of five congressional districts, or more people than live in Connecticut, the 29th largest state.

If all of the unaccompanied children who have been waved into the country were in one school district, it would be the sixth-largest in the nation, and that does not include all the children who came with adults in so-called “family units”. Schools will struggle to provide the children with even the most basic of education, and every student’s education will suffer.

Nearly all of those migrants — adults and children — come with little or nothing, and with few skills and little schooling, meaning they’ll disproportionately draw on state, local, and federal resources for support. Few if any have health insurance and will rely on already strained emergency rooms and clinics for even the most basic forms of primary care.

Even if the well-off here benefit from cheaper goods and services, those benefits are outweighed by the costs imposed on those Americans — both citizens and legal aliens — already struggling economically, who will far farther behind.

This is not a Biden vs. Trump issue. No other president in history — not Presidents Clinton, Bush, or Obama — has ever placed the interests of those with no right to come to this country ahead of the wellbeing and security of the American people.

As Barbara Jordan — civil rights icon, congresswoman, and chairwoman of President Clinton’s Commission on Immigration Reform — predicted nearly 30 years ago, that’s destroying our national interest in immigration, as increasing numbers of Americans want to see cuts in lawful immigrant admissions.

And none of that even touches on the harm to the migrants themselves. More than two-thirds are violently assaulted on the way here, and nearly a third of female migrants are sexually assaulted. The children — who are used by adults and smugglers alike as pawns to ensure quick releases — are all traumatized.

The Biden administration has made a choice at the Southwest border to ignore the laws Congress has written, and the only ones benefitting are smugglers and the cartels, rapacious and greedy criminals. By any definition, that’s a bad choice, and a worse deal for the American people and the rule of law.

Thank you again for the invitation, and I look forward to your questions.