The Center for Immigration Studies hosted a panel discussion entitled “Asylum Reform and the Border” on Wednesday, October 27, at 9 a.m. EDT at the National Press Club. Current interpretations of U.S. law encourage aliens to enter the United States illegally and receive work permits by making asylum claims, many of which are meritless or fraudulent. Recent regulatory changes to the asylum process at the border proposed by the Biden administration will provide even greater incentives for them to violate our laws.
Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), who has twice introduced legislation to help prevent fraud and abuse in the asylum system, joined the Center for Immigration Studies experts to discuss the U.S. asylum system and propose ways to close the loopholes that encourage the fraudulent asylum claims swamping both USCIS and the immigration courts.
Mark Krikorian, Executive Director, Center for Immigration Studies
Andrew Arthur, Resident Fellow in Law and Policy, Center for Immigration Studies
Rep. Mike Johnson, 4th District, Louisiana
MARK KRIKORIAN: Good morning. My name is Mark Krikorian. I’m executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies.
And we’re – the panel we’re doing today is on the asylum issue, which, you know, may seem like it’s kind of specialized or focused or wonky, but it’s actually at the center of the immigration issue – both the issue we’re facing at the border immediately, but also in the long term our capacity to control immigration is to a significant degree dependent upon how we deal – how successfully we deal with the asylum issue. And we’ve got some top people speaking on this today.
I want to introduce one of our speakers. Our most notable speaker is Congressman Mike Johnson from Louisiana. He is from the Fourth District, which is Shreveport and the area around it, was first elected in 2016. And he is – he has introduced legislation on asylum reform. One of his first bills was on the issue of asylum reform. He sits on the Judiciary Committee, which deals with immigration issues, and was – is former chairman of the Republican Study Committee, was assistant whip. So he’s – I don’t know, is it fair to say you’re a member of leadership, or, you know –
REPRESENTATIVE MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): I’m vice chair of the House Republicans. Yeah, so.
MR. KRIKORIAN: OK, yeah. So that makes you definitely a member –
REP. JOHNSON: Which gets you nothing, not even free coffee. (Laughter.)
MR. KRIKORIAN: OK, yeah. Well, so – yeah, so that and $4 will get you a cup of coffee. But he is a member of leadership in the Republican caucus in the House of Representatives. And that’s – you know, as notable as that is now, that might be more notable in January of 2023 assuming Republicans take the majority.
Our first speaker, though, is going to be Art Arthur, Andrew Arthur. Only his mother calls him Andrew. And he is a longtime Hill staffer, immigration judge, and now an analyst at the Center, has written extensively on the legal issues underlying asylum and the loopholes in the asylum law.
And I am also going to be filling in for our other speaker who was planned to be here, Todd Bensman. He’s in Texas, and so for various reasons he wasn’t able to make it. So I will be presenting second. Art will go first, and the congressman will then talk to us about what it is that Congress can do to fix the kinds of problems that Art and I are going to be talking about. So, Art, if you want to start.
ANDREW R. ARTHUR: Thank you, Mark.
In FY 2021, Border Patrol apprehended 1.659 million illegal migrants at the southwest border, which is an all-time record there. That includes more than 144,000 unaccompanied alien children, almost double the prior record, and also 451,000 adult migrants traveling with children in so-called family units. That came close to nearly breaching the record set during the border emergency for family units in FY 2019, when just fewer than 474,000 migrants and family units were apprehended there.
The Biden administration is largely to blame for the humanitarian, national security, and law enforcement disaster that continues to unfold at the southwest border. By the time he left office, President Trump had implemented policies that had allowed U.S. Customs and Border Protection to gain operational control of the border. Operational control is the statutory requirement that Congress set in the Secure Fence Act and that then-Senator Joe Biden voted for. President Biden, however, scrapped most of those policies. And the most prominent of those was the Migrant Protection Protocols, MPP, also known as Remain in Mexico.
Under MPP, aliens who were apprehended entering the United States illegally were sent back across the border to await removal hearings at which they could apply for asylum, the subject of today’s hearing. Remain in Mexico was implemented to respond to the FY 2019 border emergency declared by then-DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and it was a success. Apprehension of illegal migrants and family units in particular plummeted.
You don’t have to believe me, however, about the success of the program. In an October 2019 assessment of Remain in Mexico, DHS determined that it had discouraged aliens with weak or frivolous asylum claims from entering the United States illegally while at the same time it expedited the consideration of valid asylum claims.
Despite these facts, President Biden put a hold on MPP shortly after taking office. And in June, DHS Secretary – now DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas terminated the program. A federal judge has subsequently blocked that termination of MPP, a decision that the Supreme Court decided not to stay. The Biden administration has subsequently reluctantly agreed to reimplement MPP by mid-November, but it remains to be seen how diligently it does so.
That said, the situation at the southwest border is not completely the president’s fault. It’s the latest culmination of a series of bad policy decisions that have been made by all three branches of the federal government in recent years.
The first of those decisions was made in December 2009, when then-ICE Director John Morton issued a directive to release all aliens who were in expedited removal proceedings and who had been found to have a credible fear of persecution under a very limited authority known as parole. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, aliens who are apprehended entering the United States illegally or who are stopped at the ports of entry are supposed to be detained – detained throughout the entire process from the time that they are arrested until the time that they are either removed or that they are granted asylum. The Morton directive, however, overturned that and released all – the vast majority of all of the people who entered the United States illegally and who received credible fear.
Well, what’s credible fear? Expedited removal is a process Congress implemented in 1996 to allow DHS to remove aliens who have entered illegally or without proper documents without having to present them to an immigration judge. There’s an exception to that expedited removal process, however, for an alien who claims a fear of harm or who requests asylum in the United States. For those aliens, they’re all sent to asylum officers at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to see whether they have a credible fear. Credible fear is a screening standard. It’s lower than the standard for asylum. If those aliens receive a possible – positive credible-fear determination, they’re placed in regular removal proceedings to apply for asylum before an immigration judge. Regardless of whether those aliens have claimed credible fear or not or received a positive credible-fear determination, they’re supposed to be detained. And that was to discourage individuals from coming to the United States illegally and making frivolous asylum claims.
DHS had actually complied with that congressional mandate until Morton issued the release directive in December 2009. In FY 2009, which was the fiscal year actually before Morton had issued that memo, asylum officers considered just 5,173 credible-fear cases. Ten years later, after smugglers and illegal migrants discovered the credible-fear release loophole, 105,000 aliens in expedited removal claimed a fear of harm. That was a 19-fold increase in just a decade.
Here’s another statistic: In FY 2013, three years after the Morton directive, 1 percent of aliens claimed – in expedited removal claimed a fear of harm. By FY 2021, through August, 70 percent of aliens in expedited removal claimed a fear of return. It’s no wonder that then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions explained in 2017 that, quote, “saying a few simple words is now transforming a straightforward arrest and immediate return into a probable release and a hearing, if the alien shows for the hearing,” close quote.
Let me explain what he meant. Because the credible-fear standard is low, between 2008 and the third quarter of FY 2019 83 percent of all aliens who claimed credible fear received a positive credible-fear assessment. That said, just 17 percent of those aliens were ultimately granted asylum. Almost one-third of them – 32.5 percent – on the other hand were ordered removed in abstentia when they failed to appear for the removal hearings. What Congress has intended to be an expedited process to remove aliens who had entered the United States illegally has now become a quick ticket into the United States thanks to the Morton directive.
The Biden administration has a proposal that would make this situation even worse. The president would grant DHS the power to release any alien in expedited-removal proceedings that it cannot detain at the same time that the president is requesting fewer detention beds for those migrants, 1,500, to a total of about 31,500 per day. The Biden administration would also allow asylum officers, not immigration judges as is done today, to grant asylum to illegal migrants in nonconfrontational interviews. Unlike removal hearings before immigration judges – the current process, again, for considering those aliens’ asylum claims – there would be no ICE attorney to cross-examine the asylum applicant, to offer contrary evidence, or to appeal a decision granting asylum in error. That itself would encourage fraud and lead to flawed asylum grants, but the Biden administration would make it worse by waiving the application requirement for those aliens in order – and they admit this – to speed the process by which those aliens can be granted employment authorization. Again, this is going to lead to an even bigger flood of migrants coming to the border if this were to take effect.
To make it worse, the administration has already watered down the standards for granting asylum and promises to weaken those standards even further. The Biden administration needs to discourage illegal migration by tightening the rules for asylum and obtaining – and detaining aliens who claim credible fear until they actually receive an asylum decision from an immigration judge. If it cannot detain those aliens, it needs to return them back across the border, which Congress has specifically provided for, until their asylum claims are heard. That’s exactly what the Trump administration did in Return to Mexico and the courts have now ordered the president to do.
The second factor that has led to the border disaster is a 2015 court decision called Flores versus Lynch that ordered DHS to release children and family units within 20 days. To avoid family separation, the adults are usually released as well. As a consequence of that decision the number of aliens in family units has soared, jumping from fewer than 40,000 in FY 2015 when the judge issued that decision to, again, more than 451,000 in FY 2021. A bipartisan panel in 2019 concluded the children in those family units were exposed to danger, harm, and trauma during their involuntary journeys to the United States.
Because of that 2015 decision, however, ICE never invested in detention space for family units. They could only hold them for 20 days. Consequently, there are only 2,500 beds to hold all of the aliens in family units who show up in the United States. As a consequence, CBP usually releases those aliens with just a notice to appear, which is the charging document in removal proceedings, if it does that. This year we’ve seen Border Patrol be so overwhelmed by the number of migrants showing up at the border that they release aliens with something called a notice to report, which doesn’t really exist in the law. And as my colleague Mark Krikorian has described it, that process is really immigration enforcement by the honor system. And not surprisingly, a large number of those aliens have never reported as they were directed to do when they were released at the border.
That bipartisan panel found that those releases were, quote, “by far the major pull factor,” close quote, encouraging illegal migrants to enter illegally with a child, and that the Flores decision was exacerbating the crisis at the border. But the Biden administration has ignored that direction. The panel called on Congress to implement a Flores fix to make clear that aliens in family units, including children, be detained until their asylum claims are heard. The Biden administration has also ignored that directive, and Congress unfortunately has failed to act on it.
Again, by terminating successful Trump-era policies that brought control to the border, the Biden administration is largely to blame for the ongoing disaster there. That said, however, the seeds of that disaster were planted years ago in a series of poorly-conceived policy determinations, the Morton directive in 2009 and the 2015 Flores decision being the leading ones. The Biden administration has no plans to fix the latter problem and makes – wants to make the former one much, much worse. If it is successful, Border Patrol will be less able to stop drugs, terrorists, and illegal migrants from coming into the United States, or to prevent the guns that flow south to contribute to the further violence in Mexico. FY 2021 set a new record for apprehensions at the southwest border, but if the president has his way it will not be a record that will stand for long.
So, with that, I yield back.
MR. KRIKORIAN: (Laughs.) Thank you, Art.
REP. JOHNSON: Wow. On that bright note –
MR. KRIKORIAN: Yeah, exactly. (Laughter.)
What I wanted to talk about is some of the things that we’ve actually seen at the border that are the consequence of the things Art was talking about. Fraud in the asylum system, especially in people coming across the Mexican border, is endemic. The overwhelming majority of people claiming asylum are regular migrants. They’re seeking economic opportunity. They’re seeking, you know, stability and order. They’re not fleeing persecution under the definition that exists in the law.
Todd Bensman has done a bunch of reporting on location on this subject. And in a trip earlier this year, he went down to the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border and spoke to a bunch of people, Haitians and others, who were heading north. And because they hadn’t gotten to the U.S. border yet, they were actually telling the truth. And he spoke to one Haitian young man who had lived in Chile for many years, in South America, and he said, you know, why did you move to Chile? What’s the appeal? He says, life was a thousand times better in Chile than in Haiti, he told Todd. So the natural question, next question Todd asks: So why did you leave Haiti (sic; Chile)? What are you doing here, heading to the United States? And apparently he chuckled a little bit and said, but life’s a million times better in the United States. This is unquestionably using the asylum system as a means of conventional immigration.
And one of the stratagems or part of the strategy in passing that initial hurdle – the credible-fear interview that Art referred to, which is – almost everybody passes it, really. I mean, I exaggerate, I kind of joke a little, but it’s only a slight exaggeration to say that it’s basically they’re just trying to screen out people who think Mickey Mouse is talking to them through their dental work. Pretty much if you come up with something vaguely plausible, you’ll make it.
But one of the things that would disqualify you is some kind of evidence that you’re established in another country – for instance, if you’re Haitian, that you’re already living in Brazil or in Chile. And because of that, the smugglers have instructed their customers to throw away their IDs from Chile or Brazil because they’re – they have status there. They have work permits. They have the equivalent of either something like asylum status or temporary protected status in our law. And in fact, a number of – a number of these documents were actually passports issued to the children of these migrants who were born after they got to Brazil or elsewhere. So, I mean, firm resettlement is pretty clearly what’s happening there, and so they throw them away right before they cross the river in order not to be found out. One of our fellows wrote in a blogpost a few months ago that we should be paying somebody to go over to the Mexican side and collect up all these documents so that we can, you know, sort through and find out who is who and who’s actually telling the truth about not being resettled in another country and who’s lying.
And even though we talk a lot about people coming from Haiti – and in fact, there’s a lot of that; that was in the news quite a bit – the migrants coming across the southern border and pretending that they’re asylum seekers come from, most recent count, 160 different countries. I kind of joke about that: What are the other 30 countries? What’s wrong with them? But my sense is it’s probably, like, Vatican City and Andorra and little microstates that don’t have a lot of people to leave anyway. Pretty much every place in the world is sending people.
When Todd was down in Costa Rica, he actually photographed these hotel registers. They kind of – the town he was in isn’t even really a town. It’s kind of a smuggling lair. But they have informal hotels, motels, whatever you’re going to call them, and people put down what country they’re from: Eritrea, Yemen, Cuba, Burkina Faso, you name it. I actually myself have spoken on the Sonoran side of the border – in other words, on the Mexican side opposite Arizona – at a migrant shelter to people from – to a guy from Kazakhstan, to another from Kyrgyzstan, to a family – husband, wife, and kid from Russia, none of whom made any reference to being persecuted by anybody. It was just they were just trying to use it as a way to get into the United States.
And the interesting thing is the story changes once they cross the border. They’re coached on what they’re supposed to say. And the problem is that, you know, the USCIS asylum officers who do that initial screening don’t really want to know whether the story’s particularly true or not and the media simply report these stories uncritically. And you know, this isn’t that surprising given that a big share of asylum officers are former social workers, and in fact even the ones who weren’t social workers there’s a kind of social-worker sensibility to what the – what a lot of the USCIS people, especially in asylum officers, do.
And this isn’t just a problem because of regular lying by illegal immigrants. There’s also a potential security threat here because a lot of these people are coming – are what are called special-interest aliens is the technical term. In other words, they’re coming from countries that have real terrorism problems. Most of them, obviously, are not terrorists, but it’s a whole lot more likely that they are than people from countries that aren’t so-called – that aren’t special-interest countries.
And the – you know, the GAO has done a number of reports on this over the years pointing out the fact that the asylum officers for USCIS are not trained or equipped or – and I would add this myself – inclined to root out fraud. In fact, there’s a kind of get-to-yes culture in USCIS that the current homeland security secretary, when he was head of USCIS under – two administrations ago, fostered. There really is a kind of, you know, what can I do to get you into this car today kind of – car salesman, I mean, maybe that’s the wrong analogy. But the point is they don’t want to say no. They do want to say yes.
And USCIS isn’t completely unaware of this. There’s actually a Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate – FDNS, they call it – which has serious people trying to identify fraud. One of the real problems is they can’t arrest anybody. These are not investigators. They have no arrest authority. They can’t present cases to U.S. attorneys. They have to beg ICE, specifically Homeland Security Investigations within ICE, to do – you know, to present cases. And this is – you know, this is a serious problem if they’re going to be rooting out fraud.
And I – and I would add just as a last point – before we go to the congressman, who will tell us about some of the things that Congress has considered on how to fix some of these problems – I would suggest that fraud in the asylum system is not merely endemic; it’s systemic. The way the asylum system exists now cannot not have massive fraud, almost regardless of what we do.
And that’s why I have suggested in a piece I wrote a couple months ago that it’s long past time for the United States to withdraw from the Protocol on Refugees. It’s the U.N. treaty that relates to refugees. It’s the follow-on treaty from the one that was written right after World War II, and it is basically – our current asylum and refugee system is an anachronism. It’s a Cold War holdover and we’re long overdue in withdrawing from this treaty, which like any treaty we can do. It was ratified in the late ’60s. The Protocol was written in ’67. I believe we signed it in ’68. It was ratified in ’69 by the Senate.
It was a whole different world then. There were no asylum seekers. Asylum seekers were, you know, the ballerina who defected from the Soviet Union. I mean, you could count them on the fingers of both hands. We don’t live in that world anymore. And yet, we are governed by an asylum system that is based on the assumptions and the conditions of that world. Once we withdraw from the U.N. treaty, we can then, through our elected representatives, come up with an asylum system that actually reflects the American national interest.
And with that segue, I think the congressman can tell us some of his thoughts about what he has proposed and what he thinks Congress might want to do over the next few years on this issue. Congressman?
REP. JOHNSON: Thank you. I’ve got a lot of thoughts on that. And I want to thank you, Mark, and the Center for Immigration Studies. It’s just such important work that you all are doing right now.
Art, your opening with all the statistics on the current state of things is alarming, and it does alarm a lot of Americans. More and more people are awakening to the severity of this issue, you know. A lot of my Democrat colleagues throw the phrase around “existential threat.” It’s their favorite word now. You hear it on – you know, related to everything. But this really is an existential issue, a threat for us, because as we make the point all the time – in the House Judiciary Committee, we have, you know, jurisdiction over these issues, and we have lots of debates in there in that very fun committee sometimes. But we try to explain the reality of this that, you know, if you do not have border security – if you don’t have a secure border, then you can’t maintain your sovereignty as a nation. That’s what this is about.
A lot of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle, they want us to be all just kind of this one world community or this new world order idea. All that sounds great, but it’s a fantasy. I mean, we’re the most successful, most powerful, most benevolent nation in the history of the world. But we will not be able to maintain that generosity that we export around the world, that we – that we donate to so many countries, we help so many downtrodden people, we defend liberty around the world – we can’t do any of that if we lose our sovereignty. That’s what – we have to be our own nation. We have to maintain peace through strength. And when we show weakness, it invites aggression. And we’re showing a lot of – projecting a lot of weakness right now around the world. This issue brings all that in focus.
And I think some of the numbers that Art was saying earlier bear repeating. I mean, you think about the fact that we’ve had over 1.6 million illegal encounters in fiscal year ’21, it’s a staggering number. And this is the southern border. The border has been opened up. I’ve seen it with my own two eyes. Regardless of the talking points that you hear on Capitol Hill, this is the reality of what’s going on. The people that work on that border will tell you that. You hear it on interviews. You see it in drone footage. Fox News is probably the only media broadcast, a couple others, that are – that are still down there trying to show, illustrate to the American people what’s going on. This is a major crisis.
You compare what’s happening at the southern border, just by way of comparison, to the numbers that are happening elsewhere. On the Canadian border, we only had 916 illegal encounters in ’21. If you look at the coastal Border Patrol sectors of Miami/New Orleans/Puerto Rico combined, you only had a little over 2,000. So 1.6 million at the southern border. We have – we have invited the world, all 160-plus countries, to come on in. We’ve put the welcome mat out and said: You can have the American dream, too. Who cares about the law? Don’t worry about that. Come on in here. And we’ll grant you asylum soon after is the other kind of message that’s being sent. And in fact, they’re being – they’re proposing that right now.
But just a couple of these other statistics, again, bear repeating. The number of unaccompanied children – alien children – apprehended at the border this year doubled the previous annual record. Part of the reason this is such a concern and just seems, frankly, crazy to the American people is you also have COVID-positive people coming across the border, of course, and that continues overwhelming medical and other social services in the border towns. They’re passing the virus to the Customs and Border Protection personnel. As of the end of July, more than 9,800 CBP employees tested positive for COVID-19 and 35 of them passed away.
This is – this is crazy policy and all of it’s very alarming to the American people. We know that because the recent polling is showing this. It’s going to help us win back control of Congress. I’m absolutely convinced of it. But we also know this by our experience, not just the polling.
But you know, you mentioned the largest city in my congressional district is Shreveport, Louisiana. That’s my hometown. It’s a midsized Southern city. In recent months we have had continuous busloads of illegal immigrants dropped off in our town. The first made the news maybe three months ago. Someone got a tip and a reporter went down there, a local – I think it was the ABC affiliate – and got news footage of people. At that point, on that particular busload, it was 80 Haitians just dropped off in our city. And they broadcast it on the news, to the great alarm of the people in our town. Who are these people? Where are they going? We don’t know anything about them. Have they been COVID tested?
Well, my phones begin to ring off the hook. I’m their member of Congress. I didn’t know anything about it. They didn’t give any previous notice to our mayor, our local law enforcement, anyone at all. So, long story short, I got the appropriate ICE officials on the phone and I said: What in the world is going on? And they said: We’re so sorry, Congressman, but this is – we don’t like this either. We don’t think this is a safe situation. But this is what we’re ordered to do now, so get used to it because there are going to be many more busloads of people coming.
And now I get an email, gentlemen, every – I don’t know, every three days or so, on average, of a long list. They have to report it to me. I suppose they’re still telling our mayor, a Democrat mayor in Shreveport. But I get a long list of names that I cannot pronounce from countries all over the world that just, hey, heads up, they’re coming to your town. There’s nothing I can do about it because we’re in the minority party. And this goes on and on and on, and it seems to be intentional. They’re dropping these people off in midsized cities all over the South and all over the country.
And again, I don’t know another word. It sounds simplistic. This is crazy, crazy public policy.
The Department of Homeland Security’s most recent estimate of the number of illegal aliens living in the U.S. is 11.4 million. That number was from January of 2018, so we know it certainly is more than that now. I mean, we all know that. I don’t know that there is an accurate count or that there will be, because many of the people coming across that southern border have come across undetected or undeterred. The got-aways don’t count in the illegal encounter numbers, so we know the numbers are dramatically higher than what are actually being reported.
And again, as Art said so well, all of this is the result of bad policy decisions. This is – this is preventable. It’s completely foreseeable. But the people in charge of the government right now are not concerned about this at all. Indeed, they want to double down. What’s the Democrats’ response today? I don’t want to be overly partisan here, but these are just facts. They want to propose a new amnesty plan. So the big reconciliation package that they’re trying to ram through the Congress as if they have a mandate to do this has now – you know, they’ve given the overt attempt to add amnesty to that massive spending package. What does it have to do with the budget? Well, nothing, really. Who cares, they’re going to do it anyway.
So we had about a 13-hour Judiciary Committee hearing in the House two, two-and-a-half weeks ago or so, and the entire purpose of the hearing was to graft an amnesty plan onto this massive omnibus spending package. And y’all may have seen some of the highlights because they made the news of that – or lowlights, as they were – of that hearing, but we proved for all the American people and anyone who cares to pay attention to this that our colleagues have an unlimited, insatiable appetite for amnesty. In fact, we brought – we brought a few amendments that were of great note to people around the country, because as they were trying to graft in the possibility that maybe 10 or 11 or more million illegal persons would be allowed amnesty in their package, we brought amendments to see if there was any limit on their appetite at all.
And so one of the amendments, for example, said, OK, OK, we understand on our side we don’t have the votes to stop this, your amnesty plan. You’re the majority party. You control both houses of Congress and the White House, so if this is going to happen it happens. But isn’t there some limitation on the people that you want to grant amnesty to? What if they’re a known and reported MS-13 gang member? Surely you want to, you know, exclude them from your amnesty program. Every single Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee voted down that amendment. Every Republican voted yes, of course.
We brought another amendment. We said, well, OK, what about convicted sex offenders? OK, let’s say we have an illegal and we know they’re a convicted sex offender in their home country. Surely you don’t want to grant them amnesty. Every Democrat votes the amendment down.
I brought an amendment that said, OK, there is one issue that I know unites all of us. I’ve heard all of you give compelling speeches about DUI, the great scourge of DUI in our country – driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. It kills thousands of Americans every year and maims hundreds of thousands in injuries, et cetera. So if there’s an illegal that comes across and we know – we know; we have their record – they’ve been convicted of at least one DUI, surely, surely that would be a limitation. No, every one voted it down.
So I brought a series of amendments just to test the limits. I said, what about two or more DUIs? That amendment was voted down. (Laughter.) Literally, I brought my last amendment, and they stopped me: What if an illegal has been convicted of 10 or more DUIs? Every Democrat on the committee voted it down.
There is no limit to this. They do not care. They do not care. They want everyone to come into our country, even dangerous persons. And it’s not a game because now they’re proposing the largest amnesty in history. The plan rewards illegal aliens, of course, over foreign nationals who follow our rules and wait in line to abide by the rule of law and do this legally. We embrace legal immigration. It’s a big part of who we are as a nation. But we want people to follow our laws. We’re a nation of laws, not of men. And this is playing with fire.
Their plan will increase unemployment, of course. It will reduce wages of American workers. And of course, it will encourage more bad behavior. We incentivize people to break our laws. Again, it’s just crazy public policy.
I could go on and on all morning. I won’t. But let me just tell you what we’ve been trying to do on our side, anyway. We’ve been working steadily and even desperately on solutions.
And so, as was mentioned earlier, when I first came to Congress – I got elected in 2016. I came in as President Trump was coming in, January 2017. I think the third piece of legislation I filed was the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act. I filed that in the 115th Congress. There was a lot of interest, as you may remember, in the 115th Congress about a comprehensive immigration reform bill. We tried to do it in a bipartisan fashion, the now famous or infamous, depending on what side you’re on, Goodlatte I and Goodlatte II, right? We tried to do everything all in one. We spent endless hours in meetings, Republican and Democrat all together trying to do it. And ultimately it failed, to our great chagrin.
But my asylum reform measure was adopted and grafted into the Goodlatte bills. And you know, we came close, but we were not successful. So I re-filed that as a standalone bill in the 116th Congress and in the current Congress, but right now we have no power, of course, in the minority to actually get a hearing on this at all. But we’re anxious to fix this.
In April, I joined with a number of my colleagues in the Finish the Wall Act.
In late June, I and two dozen of my House Republican colleagues went down to the border with President Trump. We went down to the Rio Grande Valley down there where – the epicenter of this problem. And the reason we brought President Trump is because we knew it would get attention because most of the media in this country is trying to ignore the problem, and we did get attention for a bit. And what we saw there was shocking, shocking.
We went with our colleagues. We wanted to see what happened at all hours of the day, so our latest venture to the – to the border was at 1:30 in the morning. And we watched with our own two eyes as droves of people are coming across at all hours across that border. This is June 29th, the evening that we were there. And we saw the wristbands in the mud everywhere that are color-coded for the cartels to know who has paid them for that transport. We found children asleep in the tall grass. One of them, we thought, was – a little 6-year-old we thought was deceased because there was no movement, and they finally revived the child. She was so exhausted that she literally just passed out. She was left there by traffickers. I mean, these are things that we saw on one trip there in one night.
And the wall, of course, is just stopped there. We went right to the edge. Everybody knows where all the big holes are. And one of the other things we saw, to our great shock and chagrin, was that the materials that the American people have already paid for for the completion of the wall are rusting in the elements and they’re just laid out in the – in the hot Texas sun to decay because they were never painted. They were never constructed and completed because the executive orders of the Biden administration, where they basically unwound and did the opposite of everything the Trump administration had done to get control of this problem. And so the outrage goes on and on. That was in June.
In September, I joined 43 House Republicans. We introduced a resolution expressing the sense of the House that the migrant surge in Del Rio, Texas, had to be properly addressed by the federal government. Why? Because we have an obligation to fully enforce federal immigration laws. But the Biden administration has effectively ordered the persons who are in charge of this, who have this responsibility on the border, not to do their job. And that’s why you see Border Patrol agents retiring and leaving the service, and many of them so frustrated and confused because they’re basically ordered now to work as a processing agents instead of law enforcement agents. And it’s a crisis.
Just this month, I joined 89 House Republicans in a motion to discharge consideration of our Remain in Mexico Act, where we would codify that policy and require the administration to continue to enforce the Migrant Protection Protocols. The Remain in Mexico policy is critical. And, yes, we got a good court order and some action there, but we need to make that permanent because it follows common sense.
And it was mentioned earlier – and I’ll hush and kick it back to you all or for questions or what we do next – but I do believe that our fortunes are going to change pretty dramatically next fall. We have a midterm election. I think everyone now expects and projects that the Republicans will have a great victory and a big red wave. I think we’re going to see a red tsunami, frankly. And part of the reason, part of the – a big part of the reason is because the American people are outraged, they’re shocked, they’re deeply concerned about this problem that we have with our – with our border, and the lax security and what looks to be to many a subversive kind of agenda.
You cannot just open the borders and allow everybody in the world in. It doesn’t work that way. This is not a sustainable trajectory. And I think people know that. And I think because of that they’re going to give us control of Congress again, and I can assure you that when we do this will be among our top priorities.
You mentioned in the last Congress I chaired the Republican Study Committee. That’s the intellectual arsenal of conservatism in the House, as it’s been known over its history, and that’s kind of the policy production shop for Republicans. And we worked for two years in the minority in the last Congress developing a 400-page policy manual. We call it the conservative playbook for a Republican-led majority. Forgive me, I’m from Louisiana; everything’s either a hurricane or football metaphor. (Laughter.) But using the football metaphor, we have plays ready to run on day one, OK? And a big part of this is going to be our effort to reform this.
Now, I have no illusions about this. I’m sure that President Biden will veto anything we send him, but it will send a very strong message. If we can’t override a veto, we’ll be ready to run when the next Republican president is elected two years later.
So, with that, I’ll yield back and answer your questions.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Thank you, Congressman.
Any questions? I have some. You think about it, because I have a couple of questions here sent in by listeners, one that I think is specifically for you, Congressman. Are there any Democrats talking about solutions on some of these things? I mean, is – you know, there used to be – there used to be some good Democrats years ago and they can’t be entirely monolithic.
REP. JOHNSON: Well, there – that’s a great question. And even as recently as the 115th Congress – I mean, you know, 2017-2018 – there were a number of really thoughtful Democrat colleagues who were working with us trying to forge a bipartisan consensus. We don’t hear any talk of this now. And I think there may be a number of reasons for that, and I think that they’ve effectively been ordered not to. I mean, none of them are allowed to step out of line because they do party discipline really well on the other side.
And to be very frank about it, the rise of these kind of big-government socialist progressives is a real threat to the whole country, but certainly even within the Democrat Party you see the tug-of-war they’re having on the reconciliation bill and all that because the small handful of just liberals are now being overrun by the true socialists. And the socialists, part of their agenda is open borders. And they openly, you know, profess to believe in this now. And so they will not allow the more moderate members or the less liberal members – pick how you describe them – they will not allow them to address this or even talk about it. So it’s basically become silent on the other side, and that’s part of the great concern.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Do you think that – as sort of my follow up from the question – if they lose the majority and there are any of these less liberal members still left in Congress – and there will be a few at least – do you foresee maybe some of them then being, you know – having experienced the discipline of voters, maybe being more willing to talk with you guys and work on something?
REP. JOHNSON: I certainly think that’s true. I mean, you think of, for example, Congressman Cuellar. You know, people who live close to the border that this directly affects their community – as we like to say all the time now, every state’s a border state because this problem affects everyone. But the people who see it most acutely realize that something must be done, and they have been pretty vocal in their – in their urgency.
So I do think – I have hope that after the next election cycle, when the new reality sets in, when we have a massive majority Republican control in the House and I think the Senate flips to a small margin of Republican control as well, I think that we’ll have some very thoughtful conversations. We will certainly be open to it, and my hope is that we can forge consensus and get this done.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Good.
Do we have a question? Yeah.
Q: Well, yeah. I want to ask a question sort of at 50,000 feet. You’ve mentioned this, the Congressman in particular. Why do we have limits on immigration? Why not let everyone in? And is there a reason to limit people? Is it – are we – what are those reasons, if any of you think – it appears that there’s a large fraction in the Democratic Party that feels that maybe, you know, we should have, you know, nearly or something like unlimited immigration, and weak asylum rules are one way. But could you just give us some idea of why, maybe, a country would want to limit immigration?
MR. ARTHUR: I’ll take that one first. There are actually two – and it’s a good question. There are two reasons in the law why we have limits on immigration.
The first one can be found in Section 212(a)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and that is to protect the wages and working conditions for Americans. Again, most of the people who are making these decisions, most of the people who are working in Congress – with due respect to the congressman – you know, aren’t actually competing in the workforce against most of the people who are entering illegally. Most of the people who enter illegally are – you know, have very low levels of education, very few job skills.
Again, I come from a blue-collar family. My father was a steelworker at the age of 17. So, you know, I understand the sort of struggles that individuals go through. And you know, we do have large pockets of the United States where the education system is not very good, where employment opportunities are not, you know, available. And for that reason, they have to take the jobs that they can get. And again, that entry-level job, the first job, is the one that helps you to get the second, the third, and the 29th one that you’re going to get. If you don’t get that first job, you don’t get that ultimate job.
When you bring in a large population of individuals who are competing directly with the most disadvantaged members of society, those disadvantaged members of society are going to lose. It is going to adversely affect them. It’s going to trap them in a cycle of poverty.
Barbara Jordan – a civil rights icon; former Democratic congressman from Houston, Texas; chairman of President Clinton’s Commission on Immigration Reform – put it best when she said immigration policy should be directed toward protecting the most vulnerable members of society, and she identified them: inner-city youth, members of minority groups, and migrants who have not adjusted to life in the United States thus far. We need to protect the most disadvantaged members of society. Immigration is how we do that. And you know, that really is the thing.
The other thing is, you know, we are a nation. Even President Obama a few weeks back made this point: We’re a nation-state and nation-states have borders. We make our laws and we enforce our laws.
The third reason, however, is one of national security. We know that individuals have come to the United States – the Center put out an excellent piece back in the early 2000s, “The Open Door,” that described how a number of foreign nationals had come to the United States and carried out terrorist attacks. The most notable example, of course, is September the 11th, when all 19 hijackers gamed the American immigration system to come here and to kill 3,000 Americans.
So, you know, those are all the reasons. It’s a law enforcement issue because, again, as the congressman mentioned, we don’t want MS-13 members to be here. We don’t want to have drunk drivers on the streets. Drunk driving in particular is a crime that is susceptible to repetition. Mothers Against Drunk Drivers says the average person drives drunk 90 times before they’re caught once. Under the Mike Johnson amendment, that would mean that somebody could drive drunk 900 times – (laughter) – and still be allowed to get a green card and eventually citizenship in the United States.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Wow.
MR. ARTHUR: We have our own criminal problem in the United States. Respectfully, we need to enforce our laws so we don’t make that criminal problem any worse.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Did you have any thoughts on that, Congressman, or?
REP. JOHNSON: I got a lot of thoughts, but –
MR. KRIKORIAN: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. (Laughs.)
REP. JOHNSON: – as usual I cannot improve on what Art said. (Laughter.)
I will say there’s a phrase that he just mentioned that I think’s really important. He said when you allow this, you do not allow for adjustment to life inside the United States. That assimilation principle is really important. Part of the importance of having a sound immigration law that’s followed and sound immigration policy is you allow us to maintain our identity as a nation-state. What does it mean to be an American? Our system – our legal system allows for people to come here and assimilate to who we are, not to flood this nation and make it into nothing or all things, because then we’re no longer the United States of America.
As I mentioned in my opening, there is a reason that we are the most powerful, most successful, most benevolent nation in the history of the world. It’s because we’re based on these certain foundational principles. We have the free-market capitalist system. We have individual freedom and limited government and this principle of the rule of law and peace through strength and fiscal responsibility, free markets, human dignity. These are things that are inherently part of our system. And if you flood it with every other idea, philosophy, and everything in the world, then you lose that identity. And that identity is important not only to us, not only to American citizens, but to everybody around the world because we have proven over the last 200 years – particularly over the last century or so – that a strong America is good for the entire planet, everybody on the world – in the world, because of that strength that we project.
And there’s a reason everybody wants to come here. And we love that, and we want to perpetuate that. But if you water it down to nothing, then we have nothing to offer anyone else, and certainly not our own citizens. So we have an obligation to maintain the law. We have an obligation to do it for all the reasons that Art said and many more that we could articulate.
I think it is a really good question, though. And I think people are losing sight of the 50,000-foot view, and we need to remind them of it. So I appreciate you asking it.
MR. ARTHUR: And if I could just follow up on that – and I apologize, Mark – but another point that Congresswoman Jordan made was that if we don’t enforce our immigration laws, the American people are going to lose faith in immigration.
REP. JOHNSON: Right.
MR. ARTHUR: You know, I believe in immigration. I’ve done immigration for 30 years. If I didn’t believe in it, you know, I might as well just get a different job. When the American people see 2 million people entering illegally – and the congressman had alluded to this earlier – you know, we don’t know how many got-aways we get, but the best number that I can figure out is about 400,000. That means 2 million people have entered the United States illegally.
REP. JOHNSON: This year. This year.
MR. ARTHUR: This year. One year.
REP. JOHNSON: Right. (Laughs.)
MR. ARTHUR: And again, remember, most of those people were after January, so you can imagine what 2022’s going to look like.
The American people will lose faith in immigration. They will turn against immigration. Mark’s points with respect to asylum and getting out of the Refugee Convention are well taken because they make sense. I don’t necessarily – I haven’t signed on to the program yet, but you know, we need to be a country that accepts people in, but the American people I’m worried are going to turn against immigration when they see the laws not being enforced. And that itself is a reason to enforce the immigration laws, to ensure that we remain a country of immigrants.
MR. KRIKORIAN: I’ll just – we have another question here that’s a good question for the congressman, a political one, but I’ll just sort of add to the answer that this is basically the subject of my 2008 book, which is available in the digital remainder bin on – (laughter) – Amazon for those who are interested. And my point is that all of the explanations that Art and the congressman gave are all the same thing. They’re all part of the same problem, which is mass immigration is incompatible with the characteristics of a modern society and a modern economy.
In other words, the immigrants today aren’t really any different from the past; we are, in good ways and bad ways. We have a post-industrial knowledge-based economy. We have a welfare state. Transportation and communication advances shrink the world, making assimilation more complicated than they were in the past, making the security challenges greater than they were in the past. All of those are – the analogy, the image I use is, you know, the blind men feeling an elephant and each one thinks he has – the one holding the tail thinks he has a broom. The other, bumping up against the foot, thinks it’s a tree. It’s all the same – different parts of the same animal.
So I had to get a plug in for my book. (Laughter.)
There’s a question we got, a political question which sort of relates to what you had talked about, Congressman, but more specifically about the Republican caucus. And you don’t want to be talking out of school, and so decide how much you want to talk about. But you said, for instance, that letter about the Del Rio fiasco, you had 40-something people sign on; that the letter on Remain in Mexico, you had, what, it was 89, 90 people sign on. And the Republican Study Committee has this playbook with all kinds of things, immigration as well as other things, sort of, to – you know, right of the block once you have a chance, and the Republican Study Committee is the largest caucus in the Republican – within the Republican caucus, but it doesn’t include everybody. And so you’re getting the point of where I’m going with this question, is –
REP. JOHNSON: Sure.
MR. KRIKORIAN: – do you have consensus even among Republicans on a lot of these changes? Because there’s, obviously, a lot of Republicans who either for libertarian ideological reasons, business donor concerns or whatever, aren’t fully onboard a lot of this stuff. So what are your thoughts on that? Or how much can you tell us about that?
REP. JOHNSON: Well, I’ll tell you very forthrightly – you’re not supposed to give guarantees in politics or in the law, but I will – I’ll guarantee you that when we get ready to move a real reform measure, that we’ll have almost every Republican. I mean, RSC has 158 members now. I mean, it’s, you know, the supermajority of the Republican Conference. And there’s a reason, for example, the letter on Del Rio, Texas, had 50 or so. There are lots of letters floating around Capitol Hill every day, and not everyone gets an opportunity to sign on before it’s released.
MR. KRIKORIAN: So it’s not a sign of disagreement, necessarily.
REP. JOHNSON: It’s not a sign, no, no.
MR. KRIKORIAN: OK.
REP. JOHNSON: That discharge petition with the 89 members we’re trying to move the Remain in Mexico policy, the Act, if we were able to actually get it discharged you’d get almost every Republican vote. So that’s not necessarily a signal of lack of support; it’s just logistics. It’s there’s a lot going on on the Hill.
But I do think, as I said, when we get the majority, I believe this will be one of the top priorities. I think the American people are going to demand it. I mean, that’s what the polling’s saying right now. This is among the top three concerns of the American people. The people like us who work on this all the time are really grateful for that, that the attention has been paid. Now the duty is ours to provide real responses. And that’s – I’m really grateful for the work of the Center because your scholarship on this and your thoughts are important. It informs us on how we’re going to solve a lot of this, and that’ll be a big part of it.
MR. KRIKORIAN: And you know, our panel is about asylum, obviously, but in a sense that’s almost one of the easier things, I think, to get consensus about, especially among Republicans, because it’s so outrageous. To move sort of beyond that, does, for instance, the RSC playbook or you personally or whatever have thoughts on what we’re going to do on some of the legal immigration questions? Because that’s where you get disagreement sometimes.
REP. JOHNSON: Well, my Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act was – is part of the RSC playbook –
MR. KRIKORIAN: Right.
REP. JOHNSON: – and it does a number of things. I mean, there’s – real quick, some features of that bill.
It would bar the – on the asylum issue, it would bar the government from paying for counsel for a person in any immigration proceeding.
It raises that burden of proof. We’ve talked a lot about the credible-fear analysis and really the abuse of that. It would make it – instead of being significantly possible, the new standard would be more probable than not. That sounds like legalese and all that, but it has a big impact, as the former judge would tell us, in those proceedings.
It would require standardizing and recording of removal proceedings so that there’s a little transparency involved here.
It would impose restrictions on the use of parole so that it can only be applied on an individualized basis instead of to large groups.
Bar an alien from seeking asylum while in the U.S. if they can be removed to a safe third country where they can seek asylum.
Bar several grounds for asylum related to general violence. In other words, you can’t say, well, my community in my home country’s really unsafe. No, it has to be you personally, your family.
And it expands what constitutes a frivolous asylum application to include those filed solely to delay removal and others, the many problems we’ve identified.
So these are – these are common-sense solutions –
MR. KRIKORIAN: Right.
REP. JOHNSON: – to the problem that ails us, and there’s a lot of good ideas like that on the table that I think will be brought forward when we have the numbers to pass it.
MR. KRIKORIAN: We have one last question, if –
Q: Thank you. I heard it in – can you hear me?
MR. KRIKORIAN: Yes.
Q: I heard it in Democratic circles many times that 1.65 million apprehensions doesn’t mean 1.65 million people because one person keeps trying to cross the border. What’s your take on that one?
REP. JOHNSON: The experts can answer it better, but I’ll tell you that we don’t really know. I think – I think most people recognize, at least on our side understand and I think the American people understand, that these figures that we’re throwing around are dramatically undercounted. They’re not – we’re not overcounting this, OK? We can see with our own two eyes that we have a crisis.
And when we talk about the got-aways and the people who came in undetected, we know there are large numbers of those. I mean, we say probably 2 million. I actually believe, and many people in Texas and people in the border communities believe, the number is much higher than that because, you know, for example, we have less Border Patrol agents now, because many are leaving the service because they’re done with this they’re so frustrated. And the agents that are there, they’re not patrolling the border as they’re supposed to be. Many or most of them now are working as processing agents in these centers. They’re like social workers, you know? And so that border’s –
MR. KRIKORIAN: Or Walmart greeters is another – exactly. Yeah.
REP. JOHNSON: Walmart greeters, right, to their great frustration and chagrin. And so that border is not protected.
When we say it’s an open border, this is not a metaphor. It is open. And so as – if they’re coming in at all hours of the night and there’s vulnerabilities all along the southern border, we have no idea who’s come in, how many there are. We know it’s more than 1.6 million.
So they can quibble about this. There are some people that actually are apprehended, a handful in relative terms, and are sent back. Well, they come right back through again. Maybe they pay another cartel, whatever. But I think that – I think the numbers are undercounted, not overcounted.
MR. ARTHUR: Yeah. And if could, this is one of those arguments that are made by the Biden administration, pushed by CBP current leadership, and made by individuals who support the disaster that exists at the border. And there are people out there, there are large business interests that want all the free labor they can get, and so they will push this canard, and it is that.
The recidivism rate in 2021 was about 27 percent, which is what you’re describing. So somebody gets arrested, they get sent back, and then they reenter, it counts as two encounters but CBP is like, oh, it was only one unique encounter, like this is some sort of new system. The recidivism rate in 2021 was about 27 percent. In August, it was about 26 percent, so it actually dropped a little bit. That has a lot to do with Title 42 – CDC orders we send people back across the border, they attempt to reenter. That’s not a big surprise. It’s not a big surprise to anybody that’s been doing immigration for any period of time.
The recidivism rate was actually higher in the past. It was about 29 percent in 2007, when we got, you know, a third or half of the number of people we got this year. It was 31 percent in 2005. We don’t even have numbers before 2005 because nobody cared. Border Patrol agents still have to pick up that person every time they show up, whether it’s once or a bunch of times.
And you know, the congressman’s point on this is absolutely the key. And this is the part – 37 percent of Americans support the president’s immigration policies. They don’t even know how bad it is.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Right.
MR. ARTHUR: When I was in Del Rio, Texas, in August – actually, let me go back. When I was in Del Rio, Texas, four years ago, there was a Border Patrol vehicle on every street. There was a Border Patrol agent everywhere you looked. And on that list of important phone numbers, it wasn’t the hospital or the police that was at the top; it was Border Patrol because they provide almost all of the law enforcement at the border. No matter what the law is, they’re sort of like the Mounties in Canada.
When I was in Del Rio in August, there were no vehicles on the street. The only agents I saw were at the checkpoint north of town and were standing under the bridge that’s now famous because that’s where 15,000 Haitian migrants had to build their own shelters because the United States government couldn’t even provide for them there were so many.
That border is wide open. You could – you can cross back and forth at will. And when I stood down by the river and I was, you know, looking around, there was a young local fellow from the other side of the river who was literally portaging people’s clothing across the river for them. And when I looked at him, he stared back at me. He glared at me. How dare I have the impudence to even look at him. You know, it’s like staring at somebody on the street in Washington, D.C. There is no border in the – in Del Rio, Texas. There’s very little border today in Yuma, Arizona, because agents are overwhelmed. Rio Grande Valley, it just doesn’t exist.
And this is a huge vulnerability. Drugs are coming in we’re not stopping. In June, July, and August of 2021, Border Patrol agents in the Del Rio border – 254 miles of border, 50,000 square miles of area – apprehended two pounds of drugs, both marijuana. Somebody, probably the kid who was carrying the stuff across, you know, happened to have a bunch of nickel bags on him, they got popped, and that was the poundage of drugs that they got. This is out of control. This is poisoning – those drugs will poison American cities, and this – what we’re talking about today is exactly that.
And again, recidivism is high. It’s been higher in the past. There. There’s your answer. I mean, there is the answer to all those people who make that point.
But the more important issue is, whether that person enters once or 48 times – and when I was at the INS, I saw a guy who entered illegally 48 times before we finally got tired and finally prosecuted him – it doesn’t matter because the agents still have to apprehend and process, feed, in many cases clothe that individual. That’s the problem.
REP. JOHNSON: And we didn’t even mention the fentanyl – was it 9,000 pounds of fentanyl, enough to kill every man, woman, and child in America? You know, the human trafficking crisis. I mean, just there’s so many compounding issues that come out of this. It would take different panels to handle all those issues.
MR. KRIKORIAN: It would indeed, but all of them are in a sense enabled by the fact that most of the Border Patrol is on diaper duty instead of actually patrolling the border.
REP. JOHNSON: Mmm hmm, exactly.
MR. KRIKORIAN: And my only – and the last observation related to this issue about the border is that we just – I just led a border tour down in El Paso and New Mexico a few weeks ago. And I had stopped at one of the areas where they had stored these wall materials that you referred to. I mean, acres and acres, thousands of these units just piled up. And the wall was there. This was like a distribution point for the materials. And every other time we’ve been – we end up coming near the border and we’re looking at the fence and we’re wandering around, somebody always shows up, in the past. Even on the Canadian side, the Mounties showed up 15 minutes after we started talking to somebody who lived right on the border. This time, nowhere – when we were right up there at the fence, sometimes clowning around on the, you know, part of the fence that wasn’t finished, no one ever showed up. No Border Patrol ever showed up because, you know, they were off doing other things. They weren’t patrolling the border.
REP. JOHNSON: And all those acres of rotting materials were already paid for by the American people.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Oh, absolutely.
REP. JOHNSON: It’s just being wasted.
MR. KRIKORIAN: And it wasn’t just even the steel. It was these concrete boxes that they bury underground for the communications equipment, hundreds of those. PVC piping, miles of it, it was just sitting there.
So, on that optimistic note, I think we’ll finish. The congressman has the people’s business to attend to. I thank you, Congressman Mike Johnson, for helping us out and giving us your thoughts. Art Arthur, his work is all online at CIS.org – all of our work is online at CIS.org – as well as Todd Bensman, whom I am filling in for. And just – this was his book that we published – we didn’t publish. He wrote it. It was published by Post Hill Press this year – yeah, earlier this year – specifically on border issues, “America’s Covert Border War: The Untold Story of the Nation’s Battle to Prevent Jihadist Infiltration.” And we will be revisiting this issue, I assume, as the congressman himself will be, and we hope you follow the issue and follow us for future events. Thank you. (Applause.)