The administration announced on Thursday its plans for coping with the expected supercharged illegal immigration (on top of the existing disaster at the border) once Title 42 is lifted on May 11.
The plan is lawlessness atop lawlessness, all the way down.
A lot of the details are still unclear, but the fact sheet on Thursday’s announcement by Secretary of State Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Mayorkas gives the general picture. In short, the Biden administration is trying to manage effectively unlimited immigration, but in such a way as to minimize bad press. The tenor of the plan — as with the administration’s whole approach to immigration — is focused entirely on accommodating the wishes of foreigners, rather than enforcing the immigration limits enacted by the elected representatives of the American people.
The most consequential of the “sweeping measures” announced by the administration seek to “expand legal pathways” to admit more aliens with no right to come to the United States, as a means of reducing the number who resort to the politically awkward step of crossing illegally. The problem is the additional legal pathways are illegal, and the supposed stick of tougher enforcement to push people to use those pathways isn’t much of a stick.
"Legal pathways". The administration proposes a variety of new or expanded uses of the president’s narrow “parole” power. Andy McCarthy at National Review and my CIS colleague George Fishman have written extensively about President Biden’s abuse of parole, but the TL:DR version is that Congress granted the executive limited discretion to use parole to admit inadmissible foreigners for a handful of emergency reasons — intended for such things as medical emergencies or assistance to law enforcement, for instance. All presidents (except Trump) have pushed the envelope, causing Congress in 1996 to try to narrow the president’s discretion. Biden has gone beyond anything imagined by his predecessors and has used parole as a means of admitting literally any foreigner he wants, for any reason, in any number — 1 million so far over the past two-plus years.
(Adding in other means in addition to parole, the Biden administration has taken into custody and then released into the U.S. more than 2 million illegal aliens — more than total legal immigration over the same period.)
A number of states, led by Texas and Florida, have filed lawsuits to stop the president’s parole power grab. And because the president has shown he cannot be trusted to exercise discretion responsibly, the House Judiciary Committee last week approved a bill to take that discretion away and spelled out, in detail, the only allowable uses of parole.
But in the meantime, the administration, in this area as in all others, is following its playbook for pursuing illegal actions for as long as it can get away with them. The moves announced Thursday would dial the illegality up to 11:
- Expand the use of parole through the CBP One scheduling app, which is basically like the OpenTable restaurant reservation app, but for illegal immigration. Tens of thousands of Venezuelans, Cubans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans (and many others, including Mexicans) who have no right to move here have been waved through the border ports of entry (and even airports inside the country) via CBP One;
- Expand “family reunification parole,” a made-up program to enable people on green-card waiting lists from certain countries to cut in line. Obama conjured it out of thin air for Cubans and Haitians, and now Biden will expand line-jumping privileges to people from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Colombia; and
- Establish centers in Latin America to actually recruit even more inadmissible aliens, presumably pre-screening them for asylum and then paroling in the ones who pass the minimal screening interview, so they won’t head for the border on their own.
"Stiffer consequences". To balance off all this are “stiffer consequences” for those who don’t use these “legal” pathways and jump the border anyway. (Why weren’t consequences stiffer to begin with?) But these promises of tougher enforcement are mostly hollow. For instance, the boast that “expedited removal” will be used more widely doesn’t amount to much, since it’s been in the law since 1996, but this administration has heretofore generally refused to make use of it. What’s more, the universally known escape hatch for aliens subject to expedited removal is that if they’re found to have a “credible fear” of return, as almost all who make such a claim are, they’re quickly released into the country, since the administration opposes detention. And even those who are detained will be released in short order, long before their cases are resolved (the backlogs are years-long).
A few other items were notable in Thursday’s announcement. Both Blinken and Mayorkas made a big deal of regional cooperation. The problem is that it’s cooperation with neighboring countries to move even more people here, lawlessly blowing ever farther past the numerical limits enacted by Congress.
Instead, what we need is cooperation with so-called gatekeeper countries to limit migration flows, something Trump did in an ad hoc way but which Europe has approached more systematically than we have. (CIS hosted a panel discussion on gatekeeper countries this week; especially notable was the contribution of former U.S. ambassador to Mexico Christopher Landau.)
Finally, Blinken and Mayorkas went out of their way to blame the historically unprecedented tsunami of illegal immigration, and the coming May 11 super-tsunami, on the “propaganda” of smugglers and their Republican fellow-travelers. This is obviously tendentious piffle, but it’s not even logical. “Misinformation” about what happens if you jump the border could conceivably induce some people to undertake the expense and risk of such a trip, but if the results didn’t match the “misinformation,” no one would follow — it’s not like word wouldn’t get back.
The reason millions have come since January 20, 2021, is that reports of Joe Biden’s La Invitación to the world’s potential migrants turn out to be true: If you cross the border and turn yourself in, the odds are really good — almost guaranteed if you claim to be a minor or bring one with you — that you’ll be released into the U.S., unlikely ever to be made to leave.
The most tendentious piffle of all is the claim that the heroic efforts of the Biden–Harris administration will be for naught “unless Congress delivers on the immigration reform measures President Biden requested on his first day in office.” So the GOP is responsible for the border disaster unless it agrees to what is perhaps the most radical immigration proposal in history — that would amnesty all illegals, further increase legal immigration, and weaken enforcement. I’m not sure who they expect to believe that.
In short, the point of Thursday’s announcement was preemptive damage control for what people are going to start seeing on May 11 (assuming they’ve become numb to the catastrophe we’ve been seeing for two years). The goal of Biden’s immigration policy remains the same: “the safe, orderly, and humane processing of migrants,” in whatever number the migrants themselves choose, regardless of American law or public opinion.