U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has released a plan that purports to address the anticipated increase in mass illegal immigration at the U.S. southwest border when Title 42 is no longer in effect. The plan is largely made up of narratives and excuses and will do little to change the humanitarian disaster that has resulted from the Biden administration’s dismantling of immigration enforcement.
In the first line, Mayorkas claims that the “Biden-Harris administration” and DHS have “been executing a comprehensive and deliberate strategy to secure our borders and build a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system.” This statement comes less than four days after a Texas national guardsman drowned in the Rio Grande while rescuing two illegal aliens who were involved in illicit transnational narcotics trafficking, and after a year of unprecedented illegal immigration. To even the casual observer, it is obvious that nothing approaching safe, orderly, and humane has been unleashed by the policies signed by Mayorkas.
In the second line, Mayorkas quickly shifts to blaming the Trump administration for the results of his own policies, writing, “After inheriting a broken and dismantled immigration system, since January 2021 DHS has effectively managed an unprecedented number of noncitizens seeking to enter the United States and interdicted more drugs and disrupted more smuggling operations than ever before.” In fact, it was the Trump administration that inherited an immigration system that had been dismantled by Mayorkas himself when he served as DHS deputy secretary under the Obama-Biden administration.
Upon his departure and the start of the Trump administration, law enforcement in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) worked for four years to regain control of our nation’s sovereignty with a renewed commitment to immigration enforcement. New policies and new practices resulted in better control of our nation’s immigration system until President Biden was sworn in and Mayorkas was again running DHS. Over the past year, Mayorkas has dismantled every part of immigration enforcement he’s touched, and the result has been a massive humanitarian disaster along our nation’s borders.
Examples of the Biden administration’s dismantling of our immigration system include: Halting construction of the southwest border wall; attempting to rescind the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), better known as "Remain in Mexico"; declaring that most illegal aliens are exempt from arrest and deportation; cutting the number of aliens in detention from approximately 50,000 to 17,000; significantly decreasing the number of deportations; declaring that nearly every part of every community in America is a “protected place” for criminal aliens where ICE officers are largely prohibited from carrying out their duties; dramatically reducing the number of detainers issued by ICE to local police; effectively eliminating worksite enforcement operations; ending the levying of fines and penalties on aliens who ignore court orders to go home; cancelling thousands of pending immigration cases; halting visa-sanctions efforts to get countries to take back their citizens in the United States illegally; and much more.
Biden, Harris, and Mayorkas have chosen to dismantle our nation’s immigration system and the predictable result is a massive increase in illegal immigration. Mayorkas’ claims to the contrary are reprehensible. His assertion that the illegal immigration he’s created is simply “consistent with larger global trends” is evidence that Mayorkas is a man with no capacity to take responsibility for his own actions.
Mayorkas’ Six Pillars
Mayorkas’ plan for addressing the illegal immigration the Biden administration continues to encourage contains six pillars. None will have any significant effect on the non-enforcement scheme that the Biden administration has cooked up.
Pillar 1: We are surging resources, including personnel, transportation, medical support, and facilities to support border operations.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) currently has 23,000 Agents and Officers working along the Southwest Border, which includes a recent increase of 600 personnel and support of law enforcement officers and agents from other government agencies. Additionally, approximately 500 Agents have been returned to the vital border security mission as a result of increased civilian processing personnel to perform those functions, as well as processing efficiency. By May 23, we will be prepared to hold approximately 18,000 noncitizens in CBP custody at any given time, up from 13,000 at the beginning of 2021, and we have doubled our ability to transport noncitizens on a daily basis, with flexibility to increase further. In order to safeguard public health and the safety of our workforce, noncitizens, and border communities, our efforts also include medical support and COVID-19 mitigation protocols, including testing and administering age-appropriate COVID-19 vaccines in 24 CBP sites by May 23, building on our existing vaccination program for those in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody.
Here, Mayorkas explains that he’s taking law enforcement officers from their assigned missions in the interior of the United States (such as ICE officers) and relocating them to the U.S. border to spend their time processing illegal aliens (i.e., releasing them into the interior of the United States). ICE officers have complained to me that the agency's field offices have reduced staffing as a result, and that the Biden administration is making no effort to backfill those positions. Many ICE officers are also retiring, or will soon retire, and there’s no apparent plan from Mayorkas to bolster the agencies whose employees are currently relocated to the border. Notably, the Biden administration’s budget request for FY 2023 seeks a decrease in funding for ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO). The FY 2019 budget included a target of 151,000 criminal aliens to be deported from the country; the Biden administration has decided to target only 91,500 criminal aliens for removal in FY 2022, and it’s unlikely that target will be reached.
This plan notes that the budget request “proposes hiring an additional 300 Border Patrol Agents and an additional 300 Border Patrol Processing Coordinators”. Congress will likely fund the processors — who are civilian contractors — but not Border Patrol officers.
This first pillar simply moves existing resources from one place to another to speed up the processing of illegal aliens into the United States, which will simply encourage more illegal immigrants to follow.
Pillar 2: We are increasing CBP processing efficiency and moving with deliberate speed to mitigate potential overcrowding at Border Patrol stations and to alleviate the burden on the surrounding border communities.
This includes launching three new initiatives, which will support these decompression efforts, while ensuring the continued integrity of our security screening processes: Enhanced Central Processing Centers; en route processing; and streamlined processing. CBP is also working to increase processing efficiency at Ports of Entry (POEs) to further facilitate safe and orderly inspection of noncitizens.
Here, Mayorkas is proposing to expedite the transfer of illegal aliens into the United States, which again will inevitably encourage more illegal immigration. He explains that DHS is “rapidly developing a model that will co-locate CBP, ICE, NGOs, and possibly other entities” at something he calls Enhanced Central Processing Centers “to eliminate any inefficiencies and more rapidly process noncitizens”. The first of these processing centers will be operational in Laredo, Texas, on April 29, 2022, and the plan is to expand to other unnamed cities. The plan also speaks of “Bus Technology” that will allow the government to process illegal aliens “while in transit”. In other words, illegal aliens will be bused into various cities around the country before their processing has even been completed. It’s unclear what happens to the bus when DHS determines there’s a threat onboard while driving through Toledo.
Pillar 3: We are administering consequences for unlawful entry, including removal, detention, and prosecution.
Core to this plan is our commitment to continue to strictly enforce our immigration laws. This includes increased use of Expedited Removal, detaining single adults when appropriate, referring for prosecution those whose conduct warrants it, and accelerating asylum adjudications that enable us to more quickly process and remove from the United States those who do not qualify for relief under our laws.
Mayorkas claims to be engaged in immigration enforcement to create consequences for illegal immigration, but every single policy choice he has made has gutted immigration enforcement, as ICE data leaked to the Washington Times clearly outlines. At Mayorkas’ direction, ICE arrests of illegal aliens have dropped to about 74,000 in FY 2021 compared to just over 143,000 in FY 2019. Deportations have plummeted to just over 59,000 in FY 2021 compared to over 267,000 in FY 2019. ICE detainer requests to local law enforcement fell to just under 66,000 in FY 2021 from over 122,000 the year before.
Mayorkas’ first claim is that his plan includes “increased use of Expedited Removal”. This law allows the government to quickly remove arriving aliens without a hearing if they entered illegally or without proper documents, and to also quickly remove aliens found anywhere in the United States who had entered illegally within two years of apprehension. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush limited the use of that authority, allowing officers to apply quick removal only within 100 miles of the U.S. border, and only with respect to aliens apprehended within 14 days of entry. President Trump directed DHS to allow law enforcement to make full use of the law, as Congress had intended. In March 2022, Mayorkas rescinded the Trump regulation, reducing the scope of expedited removal. Mayorkas does not support full use of this important statutory authority and has directed its use be reduced.
In this plan, Mayorkas claims that DHS is “preparing” to “maximize the use of Expedited Removal for populations where removal is possible or likely, consistent with the law, and is working to streamline Expedited Removal processes across relevant federal agencies, with an eye toward quickly removing those who receive a negative credible fear finding while in ICE custody”. (Emphasis added.) Back in reality, every day Mayorkas is reducing the number of detained aliens and, as of this writing, only about 17,000 aliens are in ICE detention. Of those, few if any are even attempting to claim credible fear because this population is most likely made up of criminal aliens that Congress has mandated be detained, and also because anyone still detained under this administration likely has already attempted every avenue for release. There are no other details on this claim, so one must assume that Mayorkas is hoping the media won’t question him.
This same section on Mayorkas’ alleged “commitment to continue to strictly enforce our immigration laws” includes a discussion of his plan to allow employees at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to take over asylum hearings, which will inevitably result in quick admission into the United States. Mayorkas explains that his plan will allow for “significantly more expeditious adjudication ... meaning that those deemed ineligible for asylum can be removed more quickly.” Of course, he doesn’t mention that it also means all illegal aliens deemed eligible by unprepared USCIS staffers will be released more quickly into the United States. As a former immigration judge and a former USCIS policy official explain, this is “a plan to rubberstamp asylum grants and hide the disaster at the Southwest border” that will make things worse.
Also in this section that purports to be focused on strictly enforcing immigration laws, Mayorkas explains his “Dedicated Docket” process “for certain family unit members who arrive between POEs at the Southwest Border and are traveling to one of 11 destination cities”. These illegal aliens “are prioritized for adjudication and are generally expected to receive final decisions in their cases within 300 days of initiation” and it “includes a Family Group Legal Orientation Program in which nonprofit organizations explain the immigration court process and provide referrals to pro bono legal services”. Again, this is one the few concepts under Mayorkas’ section on providing consequences for illegal immigration — and his focus is on providing illegal aliens with free lawyers.
The only other discussion in this “enforcement” section of Mayorkas’ plan is focused on “prosecuting border-related criminal activity”, which is described as criminal activity of “smugglers, repeat offenders, and other noncitizens whose conduct warrants such law enforcement action”. Mayorkas says DHS “will continue to refer border-related criminal activity to DOJ for prosecution where warranted.” With only three sentences dedicated to this section, it’s obvious Mayorkas doesn’t plan for it to amount to much.
Pillar 4: We are bolstering the capacity of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to receive noncitizens after they have been processed by CBP and are awaiting the results of their immigration removal proceedings. And, we are ensuring appropriate coordination with and support for state, local, and community leaders to help mitigate increased impacts to their communities.
Our goal is to help communities alleviate the pressures they experience by expanding NGO capacity, through communication and coordination with all relevant partners, and other assistance such as the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP), a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant program that supplements and expands ongoing work of local NGOs to meet the needs of local agencies.
This section of Mayorkas’ plan includes promises to inform local communities about impending releases of large numbers of illegal aliens. The secretary points out that once an illegal alien “is released from custody by DHS, the Department is no longer operationally engaged in their transportation, medical care, or shelter.” He claims that he can “help communities alleviate the pressures they experience by expanding NGO capacity” with communication, coordination, and grants. Much of his focus is NGOs, but he does say that he “welcome[s] the ongoing dialogue we have with local leaders.” Mayorkas also says that DHS is working on “defining required criteria for CBP leadership to reference when determining whether and how to release individuals” into U.S. communities and that this criteria “will include safety checks, notification to local officials, information on local resources and legal services” — which is something one might think Mayorkas should have had in place before he started sending thousands of largely unknown foreign nationals into American communities.
Pillar 5: We are targeting and disrupting the transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) and smugglers who take advantage of and profit from vulnerable migrants, and who seek to traffic drugs into our country.
In April 2022, DHS and other federal agencies intensified our disruption efforts, marshalling the largest surge of resources and disruptive activities against human smuggling networks in recent memory. The immediate result has been over 2,500 arrests, investigations, and disruptions of smuggling infrastructure, such as buses and safe houses. The federal government has also established a new intelligence unit to coordinate and strengthen the capability for early warning of migrant movements.
In this section, Mayorkas writes that “Human smuggling organizations peddle misinformation that the border is open, in order to profit from the vulnerability of migrants. DHS is targeting these organizations, in close collaboration with other federal agencies, state and local law enforcement, and international partners.” The organization that is sending out the message that the border is open is his own. Disrupting human smuggling operations is good — and something that DHS has always done — but that type of work is not going to change the fact that Mayorkas has gutted immigration enforcement and is allowing illegal aliens to enter the country in unprecedented numbers. Human smugglers don’t have to convince anyone that entry into the United States is easy when Mayorkas is rolling out the red carpet.
Pillar 6: We are deterring irregular migration south of our border, in partnership with the Department of State (DOS), other federal agencies, and nations throughout the Western Hemisphere, to ensure that we are sharing the responsibility throughout the region.
In the past two months, we have signed new migration agreements with Costa Rica and Panama and continue close cooperation with Mexico. We are also sending a clear message in the region to counteract misinformation from smugglers, including that the termination of the Title 42 public health Order does not mean that the U.S. border is open. As we execute this work, our objective continues to be the safe, orderly, and humane processing of noncitizens, consistent with our laws, while protecting national security and public safety. Across all of our work in this space, we are ensuring we can uphold our laws and our values in treating noncitizens in a humane way, as we did last year when we rapidly addressed the acute needs of unaccompanied children at the Southwest Border.
In this section, Mayorkas explains the importance of dialogue with other countries, something that has occurred across administrations. Mayorkas also highlights the importance of in-region messaging, where DHS’s “approach has included paid advertising on radio and digital platforms and press conferences and media interviews in source and transit countries.” Mayorkas explains that “These messages counter disinformation propagated by human smugglers and warn migrants of the dangers of being exploited and facing death at the hands of unscrupulous criminal organizations.”
It's not a bad thing to use media in an attempt to discourage illegal immigration and the hiring of smugglers, but none of that messaging can overcome the louder message from the Biden administration that illegal immigration is welcome.