Biden Administration’s Secretive Air Deportation Flight Ops Working Magic at Southern Border Now Imperiled

By Todd Bensman on March 22, 2022

Townhall, March 22, 2022

AUSTIN, Texas — Secretive Biden Administration deportation airlift operations have sharply reversed a skyward trajectory of Venezuelans, Central Americans, Haitians, Brazilians and Ecuadorans who previously were illegally crossing the southern border in historic numbers. The dramatic outcomes of Biden’s massive air deportation operations, which I first reported got underway in August, are demonstrations that this illegal immigration-control tactic deters illegal border crossings.

It seems clear that, without Biden’s secret air repatriation operation, the February total number of 164,973 immigrant encounters would have climbed from the already unacceptable stratosphere into the ionosphere. But the air repatriation program responsible for the suppression so far is in jeopardy. The flights were predicated on the U.S. Code Title 42 pandemic control policy former President Trump rolled out and President Biden continued in a fashion, which provided for rapid expulsions. But now, Title 42 appears to be heading for the chopping block, maybe as soon as April 1, its bi-monthly renewal date. Axios recently reported the administration is preparing for a monumental next-phase surge in the already nationally historic mass migration crisis, with at least an additional 170,000 crossing attempts beyond the already huge 160,000-plus.

Without Title 42 and the air deportations, that tidal wave could turn out to be far worse. As the Center for Immigration Studies has been reporting since December, the Biden administration in August 2021 targeted nationalities entering in the greatest congregations. It discretely began shipping tens of thousands of Central American families to airports in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador; thousands of Haitians back to Haiti, and most recently the Venezuelans, Ecuadorans and Brazilians back to their own countries. These were the nationalities whose numbers drove overall tallies that have become a political liability to Democrats facing mid-term elections.

Air repatriation to distant home or safe countries is powerful disincentive to aspiring border crossers because none would venture $10,000 in smuggling fees only to end up back on home airport tarmacs aboard ICE-air jets. But if nothing replaces the underlying Title 42 predicate for the flights when it goes away, rest assured that a significant proportion of the huge surge for which the Biden administration is bracing will involve a resurgence of thousands upon thousands of: Central Americans, Venezuelans, Haitians, Ecuadorans, and Brazilians. The ones that are being air-freighted home under Title 42.

Consider just the Venezuelans.

Biden’s DHS zeroed in on Venezuelans for Title 42 air repatriations to Colombia in January after their numbers surged from a few hundred per month a year ago to 24,950 in December and another 22,884 that month, CBP data show. Biden’s people went to some lengths to set up this airlift. At least in part because the U.S. and Venezuela’s Nicolas Madura regime are diplomatically estranged, the administration cut a new agreement for Colombia to take Venezuelan deportees instead. New February apprehension numbers show Venezuelan border arrivals plummeted from the 22,884 the month the flights started to just 3,225 in February. If Title 42 holds in March, that number will likely fall into the hundreds.

The same story held true for Central Americans, Haitians, Ecuadorans, and Brazilians targeted for the air deportation flights.

The January and February statistics show the number of Central American families and adults from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador plummeted from the stratospheric 94,484 in July and 91,925 in July and August (when Biden’s DHS launched the flights) to pre-crisis levels of 31,658 in January and 39,178 in February.

For Haitians, an apprehensions spike of 7,143 in December, when DHS restarted home flights, was back on Planet Earth in February, at 1,808. Haitians in Mexico told me, as I reported January 27, they would not dare cross as long as flights to Port-au-Prince were happening.

“Please, tell Joe Biden: Stop! Stop it! Stop the deportations to Haiti,” one Haitian man implored of me during an interview with him in Mexico’s furthermost southern city of Tapachula, a revelation of impact. “Talk to Joe Biden, please! Stop the deportation. Help us Haitians.”

Brazilian apprehensions plummeted from 7,927 in December to 1,358 in February, by far the lowest number since February 2021’s 991. Ecuadorans? The numbers have plummeted from 17,611 in August to 682 in February.

Whatever new tsunami is coming when Title 42 ends, as it inevitably always would, likely will go far beyond Biden administration predictions for an initial wave as revealed in the Axios report. These nationalities will be watching very closely to see if the Biden air deportation operations continue, and if the flights stop, they will come.