In order to separate fact from fiction, here is an annotated version of the Department of Homeland Security’s recently released “Update on Southwest Border Security and Preparedness Ahead of Court Ordered Lifting of Title 42”. Excerpts from the Update are in the text boxes, followed by my observations. (My colleagues Andrew Arthur and Todd Bensman have also written about the Update.)
|Update on Southwest Border Security and Preparedness Ahead of Court Ordered Lifting of Title 42
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been executing a comprehensive strategy to continue to secure our borders and build a safe, orderly, and humane immigration process.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas does indeed believe the unbelievable — that our borders are secure. As my colleague Jon Feere observes, “[t]o even the casual observer, it is obvious that nothing approaching safe, orderly, and humane has been unleashed by the policies signed by Mayorkas.” As CBS News reports, “[a]t least 853 migrants died trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border unlawfully in the past 12 months, making fiscal year 2022 the deadliest year for migrants recorded by the U.S. government, according to internal Border Patrol data obtained by CBS News.”
As to President Biden’s motivation, Center for Immigration Studies Executive Director Mark Krikorian has observed that:
[T]he White House plan for dealing with the surge of new illegal immigration — which will come on top of the existing historic surge of illegal immigration — is not to halt the surge but to launder it by granting asylum immediately to virtually all those who jump the border. The goal is to “process” hundreds of thousands of border jumpers in an “efficient and fair” manner so that they’re no longer illegal aliens. Once they’ve been re-christened as asylees (and thus on a path to citizenship), there are no more messy questions about whether they’ll show up for court and whether they’ll leave when they lose their asylum claim (as most currently do).
|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, interdicted more drugs, and disrupted more smuggling operations than ever before.|
What President Biden inherited was priceless — the Trump administration put in place mechanisms that had actually brought the border under control (even before Title 42), such as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). DHS found the MPP to be “an indispensable tool in addressing the ongoing crisis at the southern border and restoring integrity to the immigration system”, pointing out that “[s]ince a recent peak of more than 144,000 in May 2019, total enforcement actions [along the southern border] ... have decreased by 64% through September 2019”, and that “[b]order encounters with Central American families — who were the main driver of the crisis ... — have decreased by approximately 80%”, and noting “a connection between MPP implementation and decreasing enforcement actions at the border — including a rapid and substantial decline in apprehensions in those areas where the most amenable aliens have been processed and returned to Mexico pursuant to MPP.”
All President Biden had to do was keep things on autopilot. Instead, he handed the controls to anti-border zealots and sought to terminate the MPP. As my colleague Andrew Arthur has recently written:
Joe Biden inherited what his first Border Patrol chief, Rodney Scott, described in a September 2021 letter to Senate leadership as “arguably the most effective border security in” U.S. history. Scott complained, however, that Biden quickly allowed things at the border to “disintegrate” as “inexperienced political appointees” ignored “common sense border security recommendations from experienced career professionals”.
|This update reviews the DHS-led whole-of-government framework guiding preparations for and management of increased encounters of noncitizens at our Southwest Border following the lifting of the Title 42 public health order, as was outlined in the April 26, 2022 memorandum attached here. Multiple DHS agencies and offices and interagency partners, including the Departments of State and Justice, have already been executing plans guided by this framework. That work includes the largest anti-smuggler campaign in history, innovative approaches that pair increased access to lawful pathways with consequences for failing to use them, and additional personnel and processing improvements led by the Southwest Border Coordination Center (SBCC).|
“Increased access to lawful pathways” can be accurately translated into English to mean “increased ways that the Biden administration can evade and pervert the duly enacted immigration laws of the United States in order to let anyone in that it wants to let in”.
|Thanks to prudent planning and execution and the talent and unwavering dedication of the DHS workforce and our partners, we have maintained safe, orderly, and humane processes that are managing more than twice as many people than they were built for, while ensuring national security and public safety.|
“Managing” can be translated to mean “quickly processing illegal aliens so they can be released into America’s communities as soon as possible”.
As Andrew Arthur reveals, “the number of illegal migrants released under the Biden administration totals just fewer than 1.35 million.” As to why the administration is having to manage “more than twice as many people”, just ask Rodney Scott.
|We will provide additional updates as work continues to progress.
While we take the necessary steps to manage the border in a safe, orderly, and humane manner, we do so within the constraints of a decades-old immigration system that everyone agrees is broken.
The asylum system is indeed broken. As I have written:
Unfortunately, the tools that DHS had available to curtail the influx of illegal aliens were woefully inadequate (in large measure having been neutered by federal courts over the years). As DHS and DOJ explained:
When the expedited [removal] procedures were first implemented ... relatively few aliens [apprehended at the border] ... asserted an intent to apply for asylum or a fear of persecution. Rather, most aliens ... were single [Mexican] adults who were immediately repatriated. ... [A]liens could be processed and removed more quickly, without requiring detention or lengthy court proceedings. In recent years, the United States has seen a large increase in the number and proportion of inadmissible aliens subject to expedited removal who assert an intent to apply for asylum or a fear of persecution ... and are subsequently placed into removal proceedings in immigration court. Most of those aliens unlawfully enter the country between ports of entry along the southern border. Over the past decade, the overall percentage of aliens subject to expedited removal and [who assert a fear and receive a] credible-fear interview jumped from approximately 5% to above 40%, and the total number of credible-fear referrals for interviews increased from about 5,000 a year in ... 2008 to about 97,000 in ... 2018. ... In FY 2018 ... positive credible-fear determinations [by asylum officers, preventing the expedited removal of the aliens and sending them to immigration court] climbed to about 89% of all cases. [Yet] significant proportions of aliens who receive a positive credible fear determination never file an application for asylum or [abscond and must be] ordered removed in absentia. In FY 2018, a total of [only] about 6,000 aliens who passed through credible-fear screening ([only] 17% of all completed cases ...) established that they should be granted asylum.
|More can be done to reduce the inevitable strain an increased number of border encounters will put on the immigration system at federal, state, and local levels if Congress would pass the comprehensive immigration reform legislation President Biden proposed the day he took office.|
As the Center has stated about that proposed legislation, “The Biden-Menendez immigration bill (U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021) would do three main things: Legalize virtually all illegal immigrants in the United States, weaken immigration enforcement, and double future legal immigration.”
|Until and unless Congress updates our outdated statutes and helps us create a fair, fast, and functioning asylum system, we will continue to face challenges on our Southwest Border.|
As to a “fair, fast, and functioning asylum system”, the Biden administration simply means, as Andrew Arthur describes it, letting it simply “rubberstamp asylum grants and hide the disaster at the Southwest border by turning ‘illegal aliens’ into ‘asylum seekers’ with the stroke of a pen”.
As Texas Governor Greg Abbott points out:
[President] Biden’s open-border polices are enticing illegal immigrants to trek — mostly by walking — thousands of miles through treacherous regions in Central America and Mexico, often subjected to rape and torture. Many of those migrants are killed or otherwise lose their lives attempting to come here, but that does not trouble Biden enough to meaningfully discourage such illegal immigration.
|Given this, notwithstanding the efforts described herein, a significant increase will substantially strain our system even further. Addressing this challenge will take time and additional resources, as well as the partnership of Congress, state and local officials, NGOs, and communities to do so.
Title 42 or Not, Individuals without a Legal Basis to Remain Will Be Subject to Removal
In March 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) invoked a section of Title 42 of the U.S. Code — a law addressing public health, not immigration — to issue an order that. required the immediate expulsion of certain noncitizens who crossed the border without authorization, in order to protect Americans from the spread of COVID-19. In November, the D.C. District Court issued a ruling that requires the lifting of the Title 42 public health order, effective December 21.
As I have written:
The Biden administration notably did not seek a stay of Judge Sullivan’s order, other than a short one until December 21 in order to rearrange the deck chairs on the Biden administration’s border Titanic, sorry, to “prepare for the transition”. This is because, of course, the Biden administration actually wants to end its present use of Title 42 on the border, and already would have done so had it not been for the aforementioned federal court in Louisiana enjoining the termination on procedural grounds. As DOJ proudly proclaimed to Judge Sullivan, “CDC itself has already terminated those orders because it has determined that they are no longer necessary to protect the public health.”
|As of that date, all noncitizens will be processed under the authorities laid out in Title 8 of the U.S. Code, which provides the long-standing authority for enforcing border security and immigration laws. Among other things, Title 8 provides that individuals who cross the border without legal authorization are processed for removal and, if unable to establish a legal basis to remain in the United States, promptly removed from the country. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2022, over 1.4 million noncitizens were removed under Title 8 or expelled under Title 42, more than any previous year.|
That’s because more “noncitizens” tried to enter than in any previous year, and the Biden administration is releasing them into the U.S. at an unprecedented rate.
|Despite our continued enforcement of Title 8 authorities, including an increased reliance on Expedited Removal, we anticipate migration levels will increase as smugglers seek to take advantage of and profit from vulnerable migrants once the Title 42 public health order is lifted. This will likely include spreading false information about what the end of Title 42 will mean.|
Actually, the smugglers have by and large been more truthful about the state of the border than has been the Biden administration. As I have written:
Around the world, word got out that a claim of fear of persecution upon apprehension at the border represented a virtual free pass into the U.S. — often trumpeted by alien smugglers seeking new business. And the smugglers weren’t engaging in puffery — they were accurately describing the situation.
|The increase in migration already experienced by the United States is consistent with larger global trends: economic and political instability around the world is fueling the highest levels of mass migration since World War II. That global migration is testing many nations’ systems, including our own. The demographics of migrants encountered at our border is also shifting. In September 2022, for example, Venezuelans, Cubans, and Nicaraguans — noncitizens who are difficult to remove due to complicated diplomatic relations with their home countries — accounted for almost half of unique encounters at the Southwest Border. This is more than three times the amount encountered one year ago. Other countries in the hemisphere are also experiencing notable increases. One in four Venezuelans, approximately seven million people, have fled their homes, with more than a third of them settling in Colombia; Costa Rica, a country of only five million people, is hosting more than 200,000 Nicaraguans.
In response to changes in migration patterns, we have been developing and implementing innovative approaches, combining expanded legal pathways and clear consequences for those who fail to take advantage of these new opportunities. In October, for example, we announced a new parole process that coupled lawful pathways with consequences for those who sought to enter the United States without authorization.
The Biden administration has now come upon what very well could be its silver bullet to kill off whatever remains of America’s immigration system. The projectile? Using the parole power in its attempt to convert as much of the population of illegally entering economic migrants as it can into people supposedly fleeing persecution or violence or harm of one sort or another. And I don’t mean paroling aliens out of detention aliens who have illegally crossed the border, which the administration is already doing on a mass scale. I mean granting aliens parole before they ever get to the U.S.
|Venezuelans who entered the United States without authorization were returned to Mexico. At the same time, we initiated a new process for qualifying Venezuelans to fly directly to interior ports of entry lawfully and safely. As a result, encounters of Venezuelan nationals at the Southwest Border dropped precipitously, from 1,100 per day to just over 300 per day on average in the first couple of weeks, and more recently fewer than 100 per day.|
Yes, it is true! Immigration enforcement and the application of consequences for illegal behavior work even when done by the Biden administration.
|Progress Continues on Our Whole-of-Government Six Pillar Plan, Outlined in April
To prepare for the lifting of the Title 42 public health order, six key pillars have guided and will continue to guide our work:
Pillar 1: Surging resources, including personnel, transportation, medical support, and facilities to support border operations.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has 23,000 Agents and Officers working along the Southwest Border and requested another 300 Border Patrol Agents in the FY 2023 budget request, which would be the first such increase since 2011.
The number of Border Patrol agents has become a questionable border security metric, as illegal border crossers now actually seek out agents to surrender to so that they may be processed, released from detention, and granted work authorization.
|We have hired nearly one thousand Border Patrol Processing Coordinators and added 2,500 contractors and personnel from other government agencies, which along with innovations below, are helping return agents to the field to perform their essential law enforcement and national security mission.|
“Processing Coordinators”? Need I say more?
|We are installing effective technology like linear ground detection systems and automated surveillance towers (an increase of 32 percent more towers since the start of FY 2022) and have approved the closure of over 120 gaps and gates along the border. We are also increasing the security of Ports of Entry (POE) by installing and having at the ready equipment to harden entry points.
We have added 10 soft-sided facilities to increase our CBP holding capacity by over a third since early 2021, with additional facilities planned, and more than doubled our capacity to transport noncitizens.
“Transport noncitizens”? To the U.S. city of their choice? As Andrew Arthur has observed:
[T]he Biden administration’s migrant transportation scheme puts the governors’ program to shame. How big is the federal effort? The [Washington] Times reports:
The busing and flight operation has grown so big that the Homeland Security Department says it has had to siphon manpower away from its regular duties.
|This includes hundreds of flights and bus routes per week to transport detained noncitizens to less crowded Border Patrol sectors for processing and to remove or return noncitizens to their home or third countries; we will continue to scale up our ground and air transportation capabilities in light of potential increases. We have also increased contracted medical personnel by 44 percent since the start of FY 2022 to support the health and safety of noncitizens in our care.
Pillar 2: Increasing CBP processing efficiency and moving with deliberate speed to mitigate potential overcrowding at Border Patrol stations and alleviate the burden on the surrounding border communities.
Through the addition of processing personnel, facilities improvements, and digitization efforts, we have reduced the time noncitizens spend in CBP custody by over 30 percent, from an average of 85 hours in March 2021 to 58 hours in October 2022.
Yes, because so many are simply being released.
|This has allowed us to mitigate overcrowding in CBP facilities and ensure the safety of CBP personnel and noncitizens in our care and move noncitizens on to the next stage of their immigration process with due haste.|
“[M]ove noncitizens on to the next stage of their immigration process”? Need I say more? Sounds like the trend of calling criminals “clients” of the criminal justice system.
|Among other things, our innovations have saved over 70,000 hours in data entry and processing work and reduced the amount of time it takes to complete passenger manifests for repatriation flights from an average of 5.5 hours to 15 minutes.
CBP also developed capability within the CBP One mobile application to support advanced information submission and appointment scheduling at Ports of Entry (POEs) by noncitizens. This lawful process will increase the capacity of CBP to process intending asylum seekers at POEs after the lifting of the Title 42 public heath order.
“[T]he capacity of CBP to process intending asylum seekers”? Translating this into English, “the capacity to release them as quickly as possible into American communities”.
|Pillar 3: Administering consequences for unlawful entry, including removal, detention, and prosecution.
We will impose consequences on those who cross the border unlawfully by optimizing and speeding processing of those subject to Expedited Removal (which allows for the quick removal of those who do not claim fear or otherwise are thought to be eligible for protection), detaining single adults when appropriate, and referring for prosecution those whose conduct warrants it.
"[T]he quick removal of those who do not claim fear”? As noted, asylum officers find almost every alien who claims a fear of return to have a credible fear.
|We also are increasingly leveraging our Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program and the Asylum Processing Rule for those individuals provisionally released from DHS custody pending their immigration proceedings. The ATD program allows us to track and improve the ability of noncitizens to check in regularly with ICE; results so far show that over 99 percent appear for their scheduled immigration court hearings as required.|
I have to give it to the Biden administration. It takes a lot of chutzpah to trumpet ATD when, as the Daily Caller has just revealed:
[ICE] is significantly misreporting the number of illegal immigrants released into the country with GPS tracking technology by nearly 600%. ... ICE disclosed privately to participants of a closed-door event ... that 8,118 illegal immigrants are monitored with GPS tracking. ... Publicly, however, ICE says on its web site that 56,805 illegal aliens are monitored by GPS.
As to ATD’s “success” rate, my colleague Jon Feere explains that:
Congress is under the misimpression that aliens released from detention and monitored through [the Intensive Supervision Appearance Program] ISAP show up to court hearings at a high rate. This is simply not true. ... For years, Congress has been told that somewhere above 90 percent of aliens monitored via ISAP show up to their immigration court proceedings. ... As [a leaked] draft [ICE] report explains, approximately 80 to 90 percent of aliens on ISAP eventually abscond if given enough time. ... [T]he program “has historically only captured and reported court appearance data for the time period that the participant is in the program, which due to ICE practices ... is approximately 14 to 18 months out of an immigration court process that averages close to five years.”
[C]ourt appearances are not tracked after an alien is released from ISAP, and ... “any previous reporting on court appearances should be understood to be a snapshot of the first handful of cases an alien might have had scheduled during this narrow timeframe.”
In order to overcome these very significant flaws in reporting, ICE explains in this draft report that the agency “reviewed data of ISAP participants through the entirety of their respective immigration lifecycles”, which was “focused on aliens who ICE was able to determine were enrolled in ISAP for their entire immigration lifecycle, which ended with the alien being granted relief, ordered removed, or absconding”. Shockingly, ICE found that aliens participating in ISAP have absconded from the program “at an average of over 84 percent” when looking at FY 2015 through June 30, 2020.
This lifecycle analysis indicates that most aliens allowed out of detention and placed on some form of monitoring will eventually abscond if given enough time. When illegal aliens determine that their case to remain in the United States is unlikely to be successful, or when illegal aliens decide that complying with ICE monitoring and showing up to court isn’t worth their time, they abscond. Though it’s not mentioned in this report, I can confirm that ICE officers routinely find GPS ankle bracelets that have been cut off and discarded.
ICE concludes in the draft report that, “The only effective means of ensuring compliance with a court order, to include an individual’s departure from the United States at their end of their immigration proceedings (if ordered removed by an immigration judge), is through the use of detention.”
|DHS and the Department of Justice began implementing a new rule on asylum processing in May that aims to more efficiently adjudicate claims; in early yet promising results since then, the median time from filing to completion is 45 days compared to several years.|
As I have written:
[This] new rule, as Arthur and Rob Law warn, will “remove several crucial safeguards put in place to ensure that asylum grants [to illegal aliens apprehended at the border] are not subject to fraud and abuse.”
[T]he proverbial fox is being placed inside the hen house. The very same asylum officer corps that spent four years zealously endeavoring to undermine Trump administration efforts to secure our southern border will be given the keys to the kingdom, an almost unfettered ability to convert the coming surge of illegal border crossers into refugees.
One [asylum] officer called the MPP and the rule that barred aliens from asylum eligibility who had failed to seek asylum in countries through which they had traveled en route to the U.S. “a supervillain plan” that made him “feel horrified, even physically sickened”.
The worldview of asylum officers might help explain their extraordinarily high grant rates. ... [A]sylum officers apparently believe that most aliens illegally crossing our southern border should qualify for asylum!
|For noncitizens seeking to evade apprehension, repeat offenders, and those engaging in smuggling efforts, we are increasing referrals for prosecutions. In FY 2023 to date, there has been a 237 percent increase in prosecutions as compared to the same period in FY 2022. This will continue to be an important lever as we ramp up prosecution for repeat offenders.
Finally, the pairing of expanded legal pathways and clear consequences for those who do not avail themselves of those pathways, as demonstrated by the effectiveness of the new Venezuela parole process announced in October, provides an important model that we intend to build on.
Pillar 4: Bolstering the capacity of 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.
“[T]o help mitigate increased impacts to their communities”? What impacts? President Biden’s solicitor general argued to the Supreme Court that the administration’s immigration policies only “ha[ve] incidental effects on the State[s]” and are merely “peripheral effects [that] do not qualify as ‘legally and judicially cognizable’ injuries.” Such trifles!
And the Biden/Harris presidential campaign proclaimed that:
[We will seek] a roadmap to citizenship for the nearly 11 million people who have been living in and strengthening our country for years. ... They contribute in countless ways to our communities, workforce, and economy. In 2015, the IRS collected $23.6 billion from 4.4 million workers without Social Security numbers — many of whom were undocumented.
Immigrants bring tremendous economic, cultural, and social value to their new communities. Even in cities hit hard by the loss of manufacturing jobs, immigrants are a key driver of entrepreneurship and population growth. ... Immigrants are bringing new life to local economies — starting businesses, paying taxes, and spending their dollars back into their new communities.
I would take from this that the only “impacts” would be good ones!
|Appropriate coordination with and support for state, local, and tribal officials, as well as community leaders, helps mitigate any increased impacts to communities. This coordination has been an essential element of our work to manage increased encounter levels and is critical to ensuring the safety of noncitizens who, after being fully screened and vetted, may be provisionally released from DHS custody pending the outcome of their immigration court proceedings.|
“[M]ay be provisionally released from DHS custody pending the outcome of their immigration court proceedings”? Never mind that Congress made detention mandatory. As I have written:
[The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996] IIRIRA “mandated th[e detention of] aliens receiving positive credible fear determinations ... pending the adjudication of their asylum claims”. How are all these aliens being released into America’s communities if the law says they must be detained? Well, as I also noted, “Congress’s command has been disregarded by every administration through misuse of the parole power. ... [T]the result is that the vast majority of aliens receiving positive credible fear determinations are released into the United States.”
What might have motivated Congress in 1996? As the Congressional Research Service explains:
Prior to IIRIRA, most aliens arriving without proper documentation who applied for asylum were released on their own recognizance into the United States (and given work authorization), a practice which enabled inadmissible aliens falsely claiming persecution to enter the country. As a result, many argued that the only way to deter fraudulent asylum claims was to detain asylum seekers rather than releasing them on their own recognizance. Indeed the practice of detaining asylum seekers has reduced the number of fraudulent asylum claims.
|In April, FEMA awarded $150 million in humanitarian funding to the National Board for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP), a grant program that supplements and expands ongoing work of local social service organizations to receive and assist noncitizens released from DHS custody; in November, an additional $75 million was awarded. Communities on the Southwest Border and throughout the United States will need additional resources in FY 2023.|
As my colleague Andrew Arthur has written:
ESFP began as a Reagan-administration program to help homeless vets, the elderly, and the handicapped, but has now transmogrified into a grant program ... to private and governmental organizations that feed, shelter, and transport illegal migrants released by DHS at the border.
When I wrote that, the Biden administration was “just” asking for $154 million for ESFP-H in FY 2023, but as the humanitarian border disaster it created has spun even further out of control, it now wants five times that amount.
Of course, that will simply encourage even more foreign nationals to venture to the border, fed by tales of those who have gone before about the U.S. government’s accommodations and largesse.
|Through the SBCC, DHS is conducting extensive outreach to NGOs, states, cities, and other stakeholders to ensure they have insight into the whole-of-government planning underway and understand the federal resources available to receiving jurisdictions, including EFSP. This outreach will continue once the Title 42 public health order is lifted.
Pillar 5: 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.
Throughout 2022, DHS and federal partners have intensified disruption efforts, marshaling the largest-ever surge of resources against human smuggling networks. The results so far have included over 100,000 disruption activities, including over 6,500 arrests and nearly 6,500 disruptions of smuggling infrastructure, which includes raiding smuggler stash houses, impounding tractor trailers that are used to smuggle migrants, and confiscating smugglers’ information technology. Because of these increased law enforcement efforts, human smuggling organizations have been forced to change their tactics: some have shifted their routes; some have moved their stash houses — the locations where they hold people being smuggled or stash illicit weapons — further away from the border.
Disrupted smuggling operations? President Biden has created boom times for the smuggling industry. As the New York Times reported in July, their “revenues have soared to an estimated $13 billion today from $500 million in 2018”.
|In October, we announced joint actions with Mexico, reinforcing our coordinated enforcement operations to target human smuggling organizations and bring them to justice. That campaign includes new migration checkpoints, additional resources and personnel, joint targeting of human smuggling organizations, and expanded information sharing related to transit nodes, hotels, stash houses, and staging locations. Further, we have made historic investments in non-intrusive inspection technology to be deployed at POEs to increase our interdiction of illicit drugs because we know that traffickers seek to smuggle drugs in cars and trucks. CBP seized 11,200 pounds of fentanyl in FY 2021 and stopped 14,700 pounds of fentanyl from coming into the country in FY 2022.
Pillar 6: Collaborating with international and federal partners to deter irregular migration south of our border to ensure that we are sharing responsibility throughout the Western Hemisphere.
Hemispheric challenges require hemispheric solutions. For this reason, we are in constant contact with our international partners to address irregular migration south of our border. We have and will continue to strengthen relationships with our partners in Mexico, Central, and South America, taking unprecedented actions as a result. We are working with regional partners to implement the U.S. Strategy for Addressing the Root Causes of Migration and the multinational Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection with historic U.S. investments, totaling nearly $1 billion in new assistance. We have concluded bilateral arrangements with Costa Rica and Panama, agreeing to humane border security measures and support with counter-smuggling as well as repatriation assistance. The United States is providing — and has offered to provide additional — security assistance to support our regional partners to address the migration challenges in the Darién Gap.
Darién Gap? I think the Biden administration has a credibility gap. My colleague Todd Bensman has revealed that:
Following months of Biden administration shuttle diplomacy, multi-national U.S.-bound immigrants from more than 150 countries are now finding international routes to the southern border faster, easier, and less obstructed than ever before. Panama has dramatically shortened the notorious Darien Gap route from South America for the first time and Mexico has amended a years-old policy of using a national guard road blockade to slow U.S.-bound immigrants on its Guatemala border for one that now immediately hands out fast-pass visas straight to the American border.
Taken altogether, the relative new ease, convenience, safety, and swiftness of global journeys to the southern border — the new Darien Gap bypass route undoubtedly safer — should induce even greater numbers of foreign nationals to try the journey .
The Biden government has not taken specific credit for these two consequential changes. But the enticing changes do come after months of American diplomacy with Panama and Mexico and fall in line with the administration’s overarching policy idea for border management that illegal immigration not be stopped so much as rendered “safe, humane, and orderly”. The administration has certainly lodged no objections to the creation of what amounts to a free-flow corridor from Panama through Mexico, to include nary a discouraging word on Mexico’s apparent order that its national guard deployment, which Biden’s administration once insisted be maintained, stand down.
|As shown with the Venezuela program and through these efforts, when we work together, we can more effectively manage regional migration flows. We are also working closely with the Department of State to deploy messaging in countries throughout the hemisphere and to engage with media in both source and transit countries to combat the misinformation smugglers use to spur irregular migration.|
As Andrew Arthur has written: “[t]he smugglers don’t need to manipulate or mislead would-be migrants about the president’s border policies.”
|Looking Ahead to Increased Migration Levels, and What This Will Mean for Our Already Strained System
As described above and in the April 26 memorandum, DHS and its federal and community partners have been taking steps for months to prepare for the lifting of the Title 42 public health order, while operating within a broken, outdated system that is not designed to handle the current volume of migration nor the increased volume we expect over the coming weeks and months.
“[N]ot designed to handle the current volume of migration nor the increased volume we expect”? Who could have previously imagined such a debacle?
These preparations and deliberate planning will enable us to better manage and mitigate known and unanticipated challenges more effectively, while protecting the safety and security of our communities. But they come at a time when our system is already under strain; this is true at the federal level, as well as for state, local, NGO, and community partners. Notwithstanding the efforts described herein, absent Congressional action to enact comprehensive immigration reform legislation and create a fair, fast, and functioning asylum system, a significant increase will substantially strain our system even further. Addressing this challenge will take time and additional resources, as well as the partnership of Congress, state and local officials, NGOs, and communities to do so.
In light of these limitations on our current system, we are especially mindful of the following challenges and potential developments at higher levels of encounters:
“Fully screened and vetted”? They can't be serious. As Andrew Arthur has written:
The day Kabul capitulated, President Biden tapped DHS to spearhead the resettlement of Afghans in the United States . ... DHS paroled tens of thousands of Afghan evacuees into this country. Every arriving Afghan parolee was supposed to be screened, vetted, and inspected before being released into the United States. The [Office of the Inspector General] OIG concluded, however, that CBP sometimes lacked “critical data” (like names and dates of birth) “to properly screen, vet, or inspect Afghan evacuees”, and worse, “admitted or paroled evacuees who were not fully vetted into the United States”. Consequently, the OIG found, “DHS paroled at least two individuals into the United States who posed a risk to national security and the safety of local communities and may have admitted or paroled more individuals of concern.”
And as my former DHS and CIS colleague Robert Law has written:
There are known and glaring weaknesses in the current immigration vetting procedures utilized by DHS. Bad actors and fraudsters will continue to exploit these loopholes and obtain immigration benefits until DHS enhances its vetting authority. The current background checks that USCIS conducts produces some useful information but key gaps exist. ... The tools exist to close these immigration vetting vulnerabilities if the Biden administration chooses to avail itself of them.
I wouldn’t hold my breath.
The key driver for illegal immigration, even for those who claim a fear of return, is economic opportunity. As Maria Echaveste, former deputy chief of staff for President Bill Clinton, concludes, “[w]hile people choose to risk life and limb to enter this country illegally for many reasons, the vast majority come to seek employment — and they find it.”
As The New York Times’ Miriam Jordan observes:
Millions of [Venezuelan] migrants first went to nearby countries like Colombia, Ecuador, Chile and Peru. But because the economies of those countries began to sputter, they said that they could no longer make as much money to send home. The United States, they heard, was allowing Venezuelans who made it to the border to stay in the country, and jobs were plentiful. So these migrants were willing to basically risk their lives to reach the United States. They braved the lawless jungle out of Venezuela and passed through seven countries to ultimately reach the United States out of despair, out of a desire to make a living and support their families.
And as Andrew Arthur concludes:
Th[e Venezuelans] are economic migrants, pure and simple, not asylum seekers. While I sympathize with their inability to “make as much money to send home” in other South American countries, and the dangerous trek they made to get to the Southwest border, they aren’t eligible for asylum under U.S. law.
|Our outdated statutes are simply not designed to deal with the dramatic changes to the nature, scope, and demographics of the migratory flows that we are seeing today. A broken system and historic underfunding has meant that incentives are misaligned, asylum court backlogs stretch for years, and the border security challenge is exacerbated.|
This takes some gall. As Andrew Arthur has reported:
The Biden administration complains that — despite the detention mandate — it is forced to release illegal migrants on parole because Congress has failed to give it adequate detention space to hold them. A series of court-ordered disclosures in ongoing litigation, however, reveals that ICE detention beds are going empty while the Biden administration is releasing tens of thousands of aliens monthly on parole.
[M]ore than 31.5 percent of ICE detention beds (9,118) ... went empty. ... The Biden administration is not even attempting to use its authorized bed space for detaining illegal migrants. No wonder that the president is asking Congress to cut funding for detention beds by more than a quarter — from the current level of 34,000 beds to just 25,000 — in FY 2023.
|On his first day in office, President Biden delivered to Congress the U.S. Citizenship Act. Critical provisions of this comprehensive legislation include prioritizing border technology and infrastructure; enhancing the ability to prosecute the criminal organizations involved in smuggling and trafficking; addressing root causes of migration; expanding pathways for legal immigration; and providing a roadmap to citizenship for those who have been contributing members of our communities for years. These are all ideas that have had broad bipartisan support in the past and we strongly urge Congress to consider this legislation.
We also welcome bipartisan interest in creating a fair, fast, and functioning modern asylum system — one that respects due process but provides decisions in weeks, instead of years.
We could only wish for the reappearance of the bipartisan Joe Biden, who as a U.S. senator voted for the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, IIRIRA, and the Secure Fence Act.
|And we welcome innovative thinking that would bring in noncitizens to help us meet critical labor shortages. We need to tackle the challenges at our border head on by improving our immigration system once and for all, for the sake of our communities, our workforce, and noncitizens alike.|
“Critical labor shortages”? As my colleagues Steven Camarota and Karen Zeigler have written:
While the overall unemployment rate for immigrants and the U.S.-born has returned to pre-pandemic levels, this obscures the low labor force participation rate of the U.S.-born, particularly those without a bachelor’s degree. The unemployed only includes those who have actively looked for a job in the prior four weeks, while labor force participation measures the share of all working-age people holding a job or actively looking for one. If the labor force participation rate for these less-educated Americans was the same in 2022 as it was 2000, then seven million more people would be in the labor force.
And as Maria Echaveste has concluded:
- If we are concerned about stagnating wages and adverse working conditions for those at the bottom, reducing the supply of unauthorized workers would change the dynamics of the labor market. We should be able to ask this question without being considered racist or nativist. Today, those who are competing with the undocumented workforce are often legal immigrants and their children, as well as traditional low-income populations. ... If new workers are needed, it should not be because the wages and terms offered are insufficient to attract existing legal workers.
- If we care about low-income workers in this country, we need to create pressure to improve their economic condition by reducing the supply of unauthorized workers.
|We urgently need Congressional action to provide funding in any FY 2023 funding bill to help DHS manage the lifting of the Title 42 public health order. DHS will fund operational requirements to the best of its ability by prudently executing all available appropriations; reprioritizing and reallocating existing funding and transfers; and requesting support from other federal agencies, as necessary. However, DHS’s ability to adequately respond to the lifting of the Title 42 public health order depends in part on Congress providing DHS with sufficient resources. The President’s Budget makes historic investments in border security technology, fully funds the Asylum Processing rule to shorten the asylum adjudication process from several years to several months and delivers the first increase in Border Patrol Agents since 2011. These elements are directly responsive to calls from members of both parties and are needed to support our frontline personnel working to keep our border secure and will aid in our effort to responsibly manage the lifting of the Title 42 public health order. DHS also identified for Congress an additional $3.4 billion in resources that are necessary to deliver on these six pillars and manage the Southwest border after the Title 42 public health order lifts and looks forward to continuing its work with Congress.|
Postscript: As punishment for writing a puerile memo congratulating itself for decimating America’s borders, DHS has been turned into six pillars of salt.