According to an April filing in Texas v. Biden, CBP encountered 221,303 illegal migrants at the Southwest border last month, bringing total encounters there to just fewer than 1.06 million for just the first half of FY 2022. Worse, DHS released more than 80,000 of those migrants into the interior last month, raising the total number of migrant illegal releases under the Biden administration to 836,225. While it seems the White House doesn’t have a plan to stem the surge of aliens crossing the border illegally, the truth may be much more complicated.
Mandatory Disclosures in Texas v. Biden. Texas is a suit filed in April 2021 by the states of Texas and Missouri, challenging the administration’s suspension of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP, better known as “Remain in Mexico”). It was assigned to Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
On June 1, while that case was pending, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued a memo terminating MPP. That termination decision was rolled into the pending case brought by the states.
On August 13, Judge Kacsmaryk issued an order enjoining Mayorkas’s termination of MPP. To ensure compliance with its order, the court required DHS to report monthly on the number of CBP encounters at the Southwest border, the number of those aliens expelled under public-health orders issued by CDC under Title 42 of the U.S. Code in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the number released into the United States.
The administration appealed that decision to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which sustained Judge Kacsmaryk’s injunction in December. DOJ sought and was granted certiorari, and so the Supreme Court will review the injunction on April 26 (in a matter I have called the “Most Significant Immigration Case — Ever”).
While Texas is pending before the Supreme Court, Judge Kacsmaryk’s order remains in place. Given the Biden administration’s utter lack of transparency when it comes to the deleterious effects of its immigration policies, DHS’s disclosures to the court offer the best view into what is actually occurring at the Southwest border.
A Historically Bad Border Gets Worse. Biden promised in December 2020 that he would create “guardrails” to prevent chaos at the border before reversing his predecessor’s immigration initiatives.
Almost immediately after he was sworn in, however, Biden began dismantling policies and procedures that the Trump administration had implemented to successfully slow illegal entries into the United States, without any plan to deal with the inevitable rush of aliens who would come illegally to take advantage of his more “humane” immigration posture. In lieu of “guardrails”, Biden created a border “sluice”.
As I have previously explained: “’Doing nothing’ to prevent illegal entries is itself a policy, and ‘nothing’ is what the president has done to respond to the flood of illegal migrants pouring across the Southwest border, all but unabated, since February” 2021.
Title 42 is the one quasi-border policy Trump introduced that Biden did not immediately abandon, but there was little the current president could have done to end it at the outset of his term.
I say Title 42 is a “quasi-border policy” because it is not intended to control illegal immigration (which Trump was handling quite well before the pandemic), per se. Rather, it directs DHS to immediately expel illegal migrants solely to prevent the further introduction to and spread of Covid-19 in the United States.
Biden was likely stuck with Title 42 because it would have been politically awkward to allow potentially infected aliens unfettered access to the United States while the White House was imposing exceptional pandemic restrictions (including a federal employee vaccine mandate and an eviction moratorium) on the American population.
Despite Title 42, however, the Southwest border has been in an unprecedented state of chaos under Biden. Border Patrol set an all-time record for apprehensions there in FY 2021, and since the beginning of February 2021 (Biden’s first full month in office), CBP has encountered nearly 2.5 million aliens who have entered illegally or without proper documents at the U.S.-Mexico line.
Of those nearly 2.5 million aliens, about 1.356 million have been expelled under Title 42. That still leaves more than 1.124 million who have been processed under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) since February 2021.
Which brings me to DHS’s migrant releases. Under section 235 of the INA, DHS is supposed to detain all illegal migrants and aliens seeking admission who are not clearly admissible, but through the end of March, the Biden administration has released 836,225 of them. The Biden administration’s lawful authority to release any of those aliens — as opposed to returning them to Mexico to await their asylum hearings — is at the heart of Texas.
As I have noted before, the number of illegal migrants the Biden administration has released into the United States is greater than the population of Seattle (787,995) or Denver (760,049).
Adding in more than 157,000 unaccompanied alien children (UACs) from “non-contiguous countries” (whom DHS Is required to hand over to the Department of Health and Human Services for “placement” with a “sponsor” — usually the child’s parent or a close relative — in the United States) encountered by CBP at the Southwest border since February 2021 and 620,000 “got-aways” who eluded Border Patrol apprehension in FY 2021 and FY 2022, the total number of illegal migrants who have reached the interior since Biden became president stands at more than 1.6 million.
If those aliens were a city, it would be the sixth-largest in the United States, exceeding the population of San Antonio (1,598,964) and Philadelphia (1,585,480). Stalin likely never said “The death of one man is a tragedy; the death of millions is a statistic”, but that anecdote sticks to the “Red Tsar” because it reveals a fundamental truth — numbers can become so large as to lose meaning.
Consider this, however: Those 1.6 million aliens, who will be living in the United States indefinitely (if not forever), represent about .5 percent of the total current U.S. population (334.5 million), they each exceed the tight admission caps in the INA, and they all arrived since Inauguration Day.
They will use public services (transportation, waste, police, fire, water, etc.); most will need housing and jobs; they will largely seek the simplest of medical care at emergency rooms; and the children will attend school (the UACs alone would be the 17th largest school district in America). All that costs real money and U.S. taxpayers will be left footing the bill.
And that is with Title 42 in place. It is set to expire on May 23, after which DHS is expecting up to 18,000 illegal migrants per day, which is why many in Congress are calling on the White House to extend it indefinitely. Simply put: Title 42 is the only thing standing between the current chaos at the Southwest border, and no border there at all.
Already, more than half of all Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley sector (the most heavily crossed entry point for illegal migrants) are off the line caring for, transporting, and processing aliens.
When Title 42 ends, most if not every agent will be drawn off to perform those tasks, meaning few if any will be standing between the cartels and smugglers on the other side of the border and communities across the United States on this side. If you think drug overdose deaths are a problem now (and they are), just wait until the fentanyl floods in unabated.
Nor will there be many if any agents to stop the entry of alien criminals or terrorists. Traditionally, terrorists have entered the United States legally, but fraudulently. That’s because the chance of getting caught has always been higher between the ports than at them, or at a consular office abroad. That calculus will shift — and not in your favor — once the agents are gone.
Why Doesn’t Biden Have a Plan? Joe Biden started his federal career in the Senate in 1973 — more than 49 years ago. As chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary from 1987 to 1995, he had almost unfettered legislative control over immigration and thus should know where all of the lawlessness he has created at the border will lead.
Immigration generally (and the state of the border specifically) is a huge political liability for the president and his fellow Democrats, especially incumbents seeking reelection who are already facing strong headwinds going into the 2022 midterms.
And if the president believes that exceptionally high levels of immigration are in the national interest, a border that is undefended is likely to stymie any plans that he may have to expand legal immigration even further.
As the business-friendly (read: pro-cheap labor) Wall Street Journal editorial board explained on April 17, Biden’s immigration strategy “is playing into the hands of those who want to reduce all immigration, including those who want to come legally”.
So why doesn’t Biden have a plan to address the catastrophe at the border? An April 17 opinion piece in The Hill offers a clue.
The author (Glenn C. Altschuler, professor of American Studies at Cornell University) asserts that the “Biden administration [is] politically tone deaf on immigration issues.” Read past the title, however, and you will find that while Altschuler believes ending Title 42 is a bad idea now, he also thinks many of the rest of the president’s immigration policies are terrific — Biden just hasn’t sold them very well.
The professor argues: “Biden should aggressively refute allegations that he favors open borders.” Of course, he fails to explain how Biden would “refute” a fact that appears to be self-evident.
He also blames the GOP for blocking amnesty, lauds onerous restrictions the Biden administration has placed on ICE enforcement, derides border barriers as “a sound bite”, applauds the president for extending “temporary” protected status to 430,000 aliens in the country, and pats Biden on the back for raising the refugee ceiling — among other administration efforts.
In a key point (from my perspective), Altschuler refers to a Migration Policy Institute (MPI) assessment that Biden’s immigration policies “have ‘had a significant impact on humanitarian protection’”.
If you go to the MPI paper the professor references, you will see that among the Biden administration’s “humanitarian efforts” is an expansion of asylum protection by Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Although the Biden administration’s lack of transparency on border issues precludes an evaluation of how many of the 836,225 illegal migrants it has released into the United States have made asylum claims, it is fair to guess that most have.
The lure of a “better life” in the United States has undoubtedly led many migrants to make fraudulent or baseless asylum claims. But the president’s border policies have made it impossible for DHS to assess how many of those claims are valid, and how many are fraudulent, before those aliens are released.
Biden and his immigration advisors have plainly decided that it’s better to allow hundreds of thousands of aliens with worthless or fraudulent claims to enter and remain in the United States for years pending an asylum determination than to remove or send even one back to face any potential risk in Mexico.
As noted, the law mandates detention of aliens seeking admission (including illegal migrants), but Biden’s immigration campaign website made clear that he hates detention. In that vein, candidate Biden asserted that “the real threats to our security — drug cartels and human traffickers — can more easily evade enforcement efforts because Trump has misallocated resources into bullying legitimate asylum seekers.”
By “bullying asylum seekers”, I assume Biden meant the detention the INA mandates, but more than 14 months into his presidency, he should now realize that release in lieu of detention simply encourages more illegal “asylum seekers”, which in turn has simply facilitated the operations of what he terms “the real threats to our security — drug cartels and human traffickers”.
That said, what is evident to me may not be obvious to the president and the immigrant advocates with whom he has surrounded himself.
The border encounter and release numbers that have been released in Texas paint a picture of a border wildly out of control. But the president may have a border plan. It’s just one that focuses on the interests of the migrants themselves — not on the consequences of unrestrained illegal migration on our national security and sovereignty, or on the illegality that follows in its wake.