Cornyn: ‘4.8 million’ Migrants Have ‘Been Ushered Into’ the United States Under Biden

While Mayorkas contradicts the AG on the nexus between the border and U.S. overdose deaths

By Andrew R. Arthur on April 4, 2023

As I recently noted, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee at a contentious hearing last week. Lost amidst the recriminations, denials, and deflections at that hearing is that the secretary — at least tacitly but certainly notably — admitted to Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) that nearly five million migrants have entered the country since Joe Biden took office, while denying a nexus between the migrant surge and tens of thousands of U.S. drug poisoning deaths.

Cornyn Takes on Mayorkas. John Cornyn (R) has been a senator from Texas since 2002, after serving for six years as a Bexar County (Texas) district court judge, followed by a seven-year stint on the state’s supreme court. He represents a border state, but he has never been known as a “border hawk”.

He started fast out of the blocks at the March 28 hearing, however, challenging Mayorkas on the flood of fentanyl over the Southwest border, and the illegal entry of aliens who pose a national-security threat (including “members of the Chinese Communist Party”) into the United States.

New Light on 4.8 Million New Illegal Migrants Under Biden. One particularly notable line of questioning involved Sen. Cornyn’s contention that “4.8 million people” have come “to the border and [been] ushered into the interior of the United States, perhaps never to be identified and heard of again”. “Particularly notable” because it shines a light on a figure that has been clouded in secrecy.

President Biden entered office promising — in the words of his then-press secretary, Jen Psaki — to “bring transparency and truth back to the government to share the truth, even when it’s hard to hear”. Like many promises in Washington, D.C., it has proven to be little more than hot air and bloviation.

It has long been unclear exactly how many illegal migrants have crossed over the Southwest border to make their way to new lives in the interior of the United States under Biden, largely because the administration has hidden that number — deliberately — from the American people.

For a while, however, DHS was under a court order to disclose border-release statistics.

When U.S. district court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk issued his August 2021 order in Texas v. Biden, blocking Mayorkas’ attempts to end the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), better known as “Remain in Mexico”, he required DHS — and CBP and ICE in particular — to disclose on a monthly basis the number of illegal migrants the department had apprehended and then released.

Those disclosures ended after the Supreme Court vacated Judge Kacsmaryk’s order in June 2022, and the secretary has not seen fit to release those figures voluntarily since.

CBP does, however, provide statistics on the number of migrants Border Patrol agents have apprehended every month who have been released, but it only tells part of the story.

That’s because, as U.S. district court Judge T. Kent Wetherell II noted in his recent opinion in Florida v. U.S., CBP’s Office of Field Operations (OFO) — which has jurisdiction over inadmissible aliens at the ports of entry — “does not publicly report its releases”, and “ICE does not distinguish between interior enforcement and border enforcement in its publicly released data.”

So, there is no way to tell how many illegal migrants OFO officers have released or how many migrants CBP encountered that it to passed to ICE, who were then released.

Agents actually doing the job of attempting to secure the border have told me that all illegal entrants encountered by CBP at the Southwest border who are processed under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) have been released — as opposed to the ones who have been expelled under CDC orders issued pursuant to Title 42 of the U.S. Code in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Since February 2021 — the first full month of the Biden administration — CBP has processed more than 2.6 million aliens encountered at the Southwest border under the INA. That’s more people than live in Houston (population: 2.4 million), America’s fourth largest city.

And those are just the migrants the federal government caught. That figure doesn’t include the nearly 1.4 million illegal migrants who were detected entering illegally but who successfully evaded agents at the Southwest border under Biden, known colloquially as “got-aways”: at least 385,000 in FY 2023, according to Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz; 599,000 in FY 2022; and 389,155 in FY 2021.

When you add in those migrants, the number of new aliens who have entered the United States since Joe Biden became president is nearing four million — the population of Los Angeles, Calif., the second largest city in the United States.

While I have no idea where Sen. Cornyn got his 4.8 million figure, I will note that Chief Ortiz told the House Homeland Security Committee on March 15 that CBP’s estimate of the number of migrants who evaded apprehension is likely off by 10 to 20 percent, because the figure only includes “known” got-aways.

Significantly, Mayorkas never countered, contradicted, or disputed the fact that 4.8 million aliens have been “ushered” into the United States under Biden, or that DHS may never find many, most, or all of them again. That is itself notable, given the speed and vehemence with which the secretary disputed many of the other assertions made by the panel.

Mayorkas Not Sure Where the Fentanyl Comes From. Contrast Mayorkas’ silence on the increase in the illegal-alien population under Biden with the way he sparred with Sen. Cornyn over the smuggling of fentanyl, a uniquely dangerous drug that has poisoned tens of thousands of Americans in recent years.

Consider the following exchange:

Sen. Cornyn: When the attorney general of the United States was here a couple of weeks ago, I asked him whether he was aware of the strategy of transnational criminal organizations to flood the border with migrants in a manner to overwhelm the Border Patrol so that then they could move drugs across the border and he said that he was aware of that strategy. Are you familiar with that strategy, do you agree with the attorney general?

Sec. Mayorkas: I am not aware of that as a strategy. I am certainly aware of the significant challenges ...

Sen. Cornyn: If you’re not aware of the strategy, they move migrants and they move drugs for money, right?

Sec. Mayorkas: Yes, they do, the cartels ...

Sen. Cornyn: So, what better way to move drugs into the United States than to overwhelm the Border Patrol with migrants and to divert their attention from their drug-interdiction responsibilities?

Sec. Mayorkas: Sen. Cornyn, more than 90 percent of the fentanyl or about 90 percent of the fentanyl that is brought into the United States ...

Sen. Cornyn: That’s a totally made-up number. You had nearly a million people get away from Border Patrol, evade Border Patrol’s detection and detention in 2022 and 2023. You have no idea how many of those people were carrying fentanyl or other drugs with them, do you?

Sec. Mayorkas: Senator, the expert view that I’ve received is that approximately 90 percent of the fentanyl that is brought in ...

Sen Cornyn: That’s a totally made-up number, Mr. Secretary, and you know it. That’s a totally made-up number.

Sec. Mayorkas: If I may, senator, that the expert information that I have received is that approximately 90 percent of the fentanyl is brought in through the ports of entry through passenger vehicles, through trucks, through pedestrians.

Where would we be without “experts”? In any event, they can’t tell anyone dispositively what quantity of fentanyl, other drugs, or contraband enters illegally through the ports or past those “overwhelmed” Border Patrol agents. No one knows what CBP doesn’t seize, and anyone who tells you otherwise is selling you something (generally not border security).

That said, here is the March 1 exchange between Sen. Cornyn and Attorney General (AG) Merrick Garland, to which the senator alluded in his questioning of the DHS secretary:

Sen. Cornyn: Are you familiar with the strategy of the transnational criminal organizations that are flooding migrants across the border, overwhelming Border Patrol and other law-enforcement authorities so that then the drug traffickers can then move illicit drugs across the border? Are you familiar with that, that I would call a “business model”?

AG Garland: I am, and I set up specifically, directed the establishment of a task force on anti-smuggling and anti-human trafficking for just the reason you said. It involves our Civil Rights Division, our Criminal Division, and the U.S. Attorneys’ offices all along the border, as well as our offices all along the Northern Triangle countries, and Mexico.

How is it possible that the AG knows there’s a nexus between illegal drug smuggling and migrant entries while the DHS secretary — the cabinet official responsible for the border — doesn’t? One is marshalling forces to address the issue, while the other is falling back on talking points to ensure business as usual.

That the cartels are manipulating the migrant surge as part of their business model is hardly novel, let alone “news”. Here’s how Rodney Scott, Biden’s first Border Patrol chief, explained it in a September 2021 letter to Senate leadership:

[I]llegal entries are being scripted and controlled by Plaza Bosses that work directly for the transnational criminal organizations (TCO) to create controllable gaps in border security. These gaps are then exploited to easily smuggle contraband, criminals, or even potential terrorists into the U.S. at will. Even when [Border Patrol] detects the illegal entry, agents are spread so thin that they often lack the capability to make a timely interdiction.

Mayorkas’ ignorance (willing or otherwise) on this issue is likely why the Southwest border is in the dreadful shape it is. As Sen. Cornyn put it in his questioning of the secretary: “Attorney General Garland said this is part of a comprehensive strategy by the cartels to flood these drugs into the United States by overwhelming Border Patrol. You’re clearly losing that battle.”

One need not look at the more than 100,000 Americans who have died of drug overdoses of late to understand Secretary Mayorkas is losing the Southwest border “battle”. If nearly five million aliens have poured over the border since Joe Biden took office, as Sen. Cornyn alleged and Mayorkas did not deny, the deleterious effects of the administration’s border fecklessness will be felt every day for years to come.