Biden’s Immigration Transparency Problem

The administration isn’t just hiding the truth from you — they are hiding it from themselves, too

By Andrew R. Arthur on January 27, 2022

The Biden administration has a transparency problem when it comes to immigration. ICE has failed to release its fiscal year-end report detailing arrests and removals, which usually comes out by January 1. Bad CBP Southwest border numbers have been chronically delayed. Figuring out how many illegal migrants DHS is releasing monthly requires reliance on court-ordered filings. All of that is a problem for the American people, but it is a bigger problem for the president and his advisors — they aren’t being honest with themselves, either.

Video of Single Adults Heading from the Border to Flights Across the Country. Take for example a video that was obtained by Fox News, which appears to show dozens of single adults, mostly male, who were being “shuttled from a makeshift processing center in Texas to a local airport for flights to various US cities”.

They are reportedly migrants who were apprehended at the border on their way to Valley International Airport in Harlingen, Texas, to hop planes to Atlanta, Houston, and Miami, and that’s likely exactly what they are.

Of course, that raises the question of why a large number of single adult migrants were being released into the United States at all. Orders issued by the CDC pursuant to Title 42 of the U.S. Code in response to the Covid-19 pandemic require their quick expulsion.

Those orders contain “case-by-case exceptions” to be applied “based on the totality of the circumstances”, but for illegal migrants apprehended at the Southwest border, expulsion is the rule, not the exception.

By this point, anyone interested in immigration is likely familiar with the concept of “Title 42”, but few have actually read the (rather lengthy) CDC order. I know that because the Federal Register page containing that order has received, as of January 26 at 2:15 EST, just 955 views — and three of those are mine, because I have now read it three times from three separate computers.

Here is a key passage, which can be found at 86 Federal Register 42838:

CDC is also providing an additional exception to permit DHS to except [aliens] participating in a DHS-approved program that incorporates pre-processing COVID-19 testing in Mexico of the [aliens], prior to their safe and orderly entry to the U.S. via ports of entry.

Is that what happened in the case of these aliens? Did they go through that “DHS-approved program” with “pre-processing” involving Covid-19 “testing in Mexico” before they presented themselves at a port of entry?

I have no idea, because the Biden administration isn’t telling the public much if anything about those or any other illegal migrants at the Southwest border.

Video of Children Flown to New York. That video follows one in October that showed large numbers of children arriving at Westchester (N.Y.) County Airport at night on charter flights that had originated in Texas. Reporting revealed that they were some of approximately 2,000 unaccompanied alien children (UACs) who had been flown to Westchester, from which they were bused to New York City, Newburgh, N.Y., or to various locations in Connecticut.

Logically, those UACs were being placed with sponsors or at shelters in the United States in accordance with section 235 of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA), but as the New York Post explained: “The clandestine nature of the operation raises questions about how the White House is dealing with a recent surge in unaccompanied minors.” No light there, either.

The DeSantis Administration’s Response to UAC Flights to Florida. A similar flight was seen touching down in Jacksonville, Fla., where 10 to 15 individuals “wearing matching white baseball caps and carrying duffel bags got off the plane and onto a charter bus” that took them to “the Twin Oaks Academy, a juvenile detention center in the Apalachicola National Forest near Tallahassee, where staffers were waiting to open a gate topped with barbed wire.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) was apparently not pleased when he found out, and a spokeswoman for the governor responded:

If the Biden Administration is so confident that their open-border policy is good for our country, why the secrecy? ... Why is the Biden Administration refusing to share even the most basic information about illegal alien resettlement in communities throughout our state and the entire country?

Why indeed. Those are good questions, and ones that get to the heart of the Biden administration’s immigration transparency problem.

Biden’s Immigration Policies Are Really Unpopular. For whatever reason, the Biden administration has adopted these and other immigration policies that are unpopular with the electorate, to say the least.

In a poll conducted by YouGov for The Economist of 1,500 U.S. adults between January 22 and 25, just 9 percent of respondents “strongly approved” of the president’s handling of immigration, with an additional 20 percent who “somewhat approved”. By comparison, 53 percent disapproved of the job that Biden is doing on immigration, 40 percent “strongly” so.

One observer has noted that we are just in the “first quarter” of the president’s first term, but in football when you are down by 24 points in the first quarter, you think about benching the quarterback and coming up with a new game plan.

Mayorkas Caught on Tape Talking to Yuma Border Patrol Agents. Biden’s immigration quarterback is DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and he might be the least transparent official of all.

When pressed by Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) at a November hearing on whether the United States had “more control over the border now than we did under Trump”, Mayorkas first hedged, and then responded: “I think that we have more control consistent with our values as a nation.”

That’s Mayorkas’ public face. A January 26 report in Townhall about a recent meeting between the secretary and Border Patrol agents in Yuma sector tells a different story:

In an audio recording of his remarks to the agents, which was obtained by Townhall, Mayorkas conceded the massive influx of people illegally crossing into the sector, along with the rest of the southern sectors, has not been easy.

"The job has not gotten any easier over the last few months and it was very, very difficult throughout 2021. I know apprehending families and kids is not what you signed up to do. And now we got a composition that is changing even more with Cubans, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, and the like, it just gets more difficult," Mayorkas said in the recording.

That report continues, with Mayorkas stating: "I know the policies of this administration are not particularly popular with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, but that's the reality and let's see what we can do within that framework”.

After that, Mayorkas got into it with one particularly “candid” agent, who asked the secretary how his department could “reconcile saying border security is the main mission for Border Patrol, yet agents are unable to patrol the border due to the policies the Biden administration has in place”?

When Mayorkas responded by stating that he was working on manpower and resources, the agent retorted by noting they have been hearing that for years, and then turned his back to the secretary. Mayorkas replied: "Let me just say, you can turn your back on me but I won't turn my back on you."

This exchange reveals that the secretary has his own problems with transparency. Mayorkas knows that he is peddling codswallop to the people who are bearing the brunt of his department’s policies, but he cannot admit it to himself. His back has been turned on those agents almost since day one, and a spoonful of treacle is not going to make that medicine go down.

The Biden Administration Must Admit to Itself that Its Immigration Policies Aren’t Working. There are few immigration decisions the Biden administration has made that I agree with, because I know how the system operates from the inside. As an INS trial attorney and associate general counsel, as a staffer with oversight of immigration, and as an immigration judge, I learned what works and what doesn’t. So has the unnamed and refreshingly candid Border Patrol agent.

During my tenure in the government, career employees like us referred to political officials like Mayorkas as the “Christmas help” — we were there when they arrived with their new ideas, and we were left to clean up the mess at the register when they left.

We are just seconds into the second quarter of the president’s first term, however, and there is time for Biden and his immigration policies to change.

The first thing that I learned from hearing cases as a judge is that you must recognize the error of your ways before you can take a different path. That will be especially difficult for an administration that is not only hiding the truth about its immigration policies from the American people, but in many ways is hiding that truth from itself.

The second thing that I learned was that the hardest thing to do is to walk away from a bad situation. On immigration, the president and his staff have created a very bad situation — bad from a national security and law enforcement standpoint, but bad from a political one, too.

It’s time for the Biden administration to fess up about the effects of its ill-advised (in the truest sense of the phrase) immigration policies, both to the American people and to themselves. Only then will the president be able to walk away from the bad situation he and his advisors have created.