An August 22 CBS News story, captioned “As cities struggle to house migrants, Biden administration resists proposals that officials say could help”, is the latest tendentious flash of brilliance from the once-great network on the complex and multifaceted migrant issue. It follows the network's recent one-sided excoriation of DHS for the death of an alien child in its custody (which my colleague Jon Feere dissected on August 18) and its celebration of the Biden administration’s “unprecedented use” of DHS’s limited parole power. One major issue this latest article fails to mention is how much worse those “proposals” would make the problems they purport to address, which should be glaring and obvious even to the uninformed.
Hot Out of the Gate. At least that article accurately frames those problems right out of the gate:
Officials in New York are assembling tent cities for those who can't be placed in a shelter system of more than 200 hotels and other facilities that is already housing 60,000 migrants and more than 50,000 homeless residents.
In Chicago, which is housing over 7,000 migrants, police stations and parks have been converted into makeshift shelters, and plans to house asylum-seekers in vacant schools have generated fervent local backlash. In cities like Sacramento and Denver, some migrants have found themselves on the brink of homelessness. In Boston and other parts of Massachusetts, the arrival of thousands of families and pregnant women seeking asylum prompted the state's governor to declare an emergency.
A perfect storm has brought the historic migration crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border to some of America's largest cities. The influx has strained city and state resources, prompting local Democratic leaders to openly criticize the Biden administration and testing the values of liberal enclaves that have historically welcomed migrants seeking sanctuary.
In other words, tens of thousands of migrants who crossed illegally into the United States have headed to northern and western “sanctuary” cities, straining local “resources” and testing those municipalities’ dedication to the “liberal values” they heartily championed when they were resisting Donald Trump, but which haven’t aged well subsequently.
“A Perfect Storm”? That said, “a perfect storm” generally refers to a confluence of unrelated factors that combine to create one larger issue worse than its parts. The migrant problem facing New York City, Chicago, Sacramento, Denver, Boston, and other cities and towns across the United States all flow from just one source, however: the Biden administration’s feckless border policies, and its illegal migrant release schemes in particular.
As CBS News explains:
Under President Biden, the U.S. has processed a record number of migrants. While many have been expelled, at least 2.1 million migrants were released by U.S. border officials between February 2021 and July 2023, according to a CBS News analysis of government data. [Emphasis added.]
Note that the article presents those two points — the “record number of migrants” and the “at least 2.1 million migrant releases” — as if they were wholly unrelated. They’re not; the reason why millions of migrants have entered illegally since Joe Biden took office is because they know they have an increasingly good shot at getting released.
You don’t have to trust me on this point, because as U.S. district court Judge T. Kent Wetherell II held in his March opinion in Florida v. U.S. — a suit brought by the state of Florida challenging Biden’s migrant-release policies:
There were undoubtedly geopolitical and other factors that contributed to the surge of aliens at the Southwest Border, but [the administration’s] position that the crisis at the border is not largely of their own making because of their more lenient detention policies is divorced from reality and belied by the evidence. Indeed, the more persuasive evidence establishes that Defendants effectively incentivized what they call “irregular migration” that has been ongoing since early 2021 by establishing policies and practices that all-but-guaranteed that the vast majority of aliens arriving at the Southwest Border who were not excluded under the Title 42 Order would not be detained and would instead be quickly released into the country where they would be allowed to stay (often for five years or more) while their asylum claims were processed or their removal proceedings ran their course — assuming, of course, that the aliens do not simply abscond before even being placed in removal proceedings, as many thousands have done. [Emphasis added.]
Those aren’t the idle musings of a think-tank pundit, or even of a network immigration reporter — they’re the findings of a detached magistrate who considered thousands of pages of evidence and more than a year of briefing and arguments. And, at least until that opinion is vacated, it’s also the law.
The sole tribute that the CBS News article pays to the obvious connection between migrant releases and new migrant arrivals is the following: “Republican lawmakers have said the crisis faced by cities could be mitigated through stricter policies along the southern border that allow fewer migrants to be released in the first place.” But even then the reporter never seriously evaluates “stricter policies” as an option.
“Potential Solutions”. Which brings me to the “potential solutions”, as that article terms them, that have been advanced by, among others, New York’s congressional delegation and local Democratic officials.
The first is to parole those aliens (which CBS News describes as “a short-term legal status” — true only to the degree that a gunshot wound to the chest is a “short-term medical issue”), which would allow them to “bypass the asylum-linked waiting period for work permits”.
The article asserts that parole in this context would be a non-starter for the administration because it is “legally risky given lawsuits from Republican-led states challenging its use of parole”. Nearly every immigration action that this administration has proposed has been “legally risky”, at least to the extent that it is unmoored from the law, but note how those “Republican-led states” are blamed. That’s a theme in this particular piece.
Second is “to expand the Temporary Protected Status policy, or TPS, which allows eligible migrants from crisis-stricken countries to apply for work permits and deportation protections”.
Anyone who knows anything about TPS realizes that the “temporary” part of that status is among the worst misnomers in the Immigration and Nationality Act, at least in practice. Many El Salvadorans in the United States, for example, have had TPS since March 2001, and aren’t in any danger of losing it anytime soon.
CBS News never even mentions these facts as it explains:
Local leaders have called on the administration to allow recent arrivals from Venezuela and other countries to apply for TPS, which would give a significant portion of those in shelters a chance to obtain work permits. The TPS program for Venezuela currently benefits only those who arrived in the U.S. before March 2021.
The third potential solution is a shelved administration proposal to ship “migrants from the U.S.-Mexico border to cities of their choosing across the U.S., including Buffalo, Denver, Detroit, Miami, New Orleans, Newark, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.”, where ICE would process them.
Why was this plan shelved? CBS News explains that it “was blocked by the White House due to concerns about the political optics of the federal government transporting migrants across the U.S. and objections from some of the cities asked to take part in the program”.
In other words, busing released migrants across the United States would let everyone know what the White House was doing at the border. Can’t have that now, can we?
Making the Problem Worse. What those three plans — parole and work authorization, TPS and work authorization, and free transport to the destinations of the migrants’ choosing — all have in common is they would exacerbate the problems in the cities CBS News identifies and countless others nationwide.
As Judge Wetherell explained, the almost certain prospect of release was enough to drive the biggest flood of migrants in our nation’s history across the Southwest border. If you add guaranteed work cards to the pot, you simply sweeten it, which is why — as noted — the surge of Venezuelans into this country has only grown since their countrymen already here were granted TPS.
Throw a free ticket anywhere in the United States into the mix and foreign nationals abroad who are thinking about coming here illegally will hardly be able to believe their luck, though more likely they will simply view it as an open invitation to begin new lives in the United States.
Which, in a way, it would be.
Somehow, the same news division that produced Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite has morphed into a journalistic amoeba that simply digests whatever talking points it receives on immigration and emits slanted articles devoid of real analysis, let alone logic. Immigration is a complicated topic, but even naïfs should recognize when so-called “solutions” would simply breed more serious problems.