The Center for Immigration Studies hosted a panel discussion entitled “Parole and the CBP One App: Fact and Fiction”. Speakers examined the legality of the CBP One App scheme, the number of entries, legal challenges, and the myths put forth about it.
Mark Morgan, former Acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, joined Center for Immigration Studies experts to discuss how the Biden administration took the CBP One smartphone app – a tool originally designed to smooth legal cross-border traffic – and turned it into a means of facilitating illegal immigration.
Mark Morgan, Visiting Fellow, Border Security and Immigration Center, Heritage Foundation
Former Acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, former Acting Director of U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Andrew Arthur, Resident Fellow in Law and Policy, Center for Immigration Studies
Former Immigration Judge, former Counsel on the House Judiciary Committee, and former Acting Chief of the INS National Security Law Division.
Moderator: Mark Krikorian, Executive Director, Center for Immigration Studies
Date and Location:
August 23, 2023
MARK KRIKORIAN: Welcome and good afternoon. My name is Mark Krikorian. I’m executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. And thanks for coming.
It’s been clear from the beginning of this administration that its approach to the illegal immigration issue and the border specifically is to accommodate the flow of inadmissible aliens rather than to stop it. The problem is that that has caused them political headaches as people notice the magnitude of this border crisis. Just at the southern border, since this administration took office there’s been more than five-and-a-half million so-called encounters – that’s the PC term now – at the southern border.
So how to do damage control? One thing they could do is enforce the law and reduce the number of illegal immigrants crossing. That’s apparently off the table. So, to accommodate the flow, they have turned to a strategy the linchpin of which is CBP One. It’s a smartphone app. You can download it yourself from Google Play or the Apple Store. I have it right here on my phone. I haven’t used it because I don’t have to schedule my illegal immigration, but it’s there for anybody to see what it looks like. And the point of it is this is a tool to funnel inadmissible aliens from between the ports of entry, where they show up as apprehensions by the Border Patrol, to go through the lawful ports of entry and to call it legal. That’s the key point. The goal is to reduce the Border Patrol arrest numbers and then declare victory because the “legal pathways” – and I use that in quotations – are what people are turning to.
And it worked for one month. In June, the Border Patrol numbers went down and, of course, the numbers using CBP One at the ports of entry went up, and so the administration spiked the football. The problem is that, as the numbers that were – there was a news dump Friday after close of business which showed that the numbers are the border are now way up and the numbers using CBP One also are way up. So it’s not working, at least from their perspective. Nonetheless, this is the linchpin of the administration’s border policy.
And so to explore what CBP One is and the central role it plays in the administration’s approach to the border, we have two eminently qualified people to talk about it.
First, Mark Morgan. He’s at the Heritage Foundation now as a visiting fellow, but was acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection – of CBP itself – under Trump, and before that was head of the Border Patrol under Obama, and before that had a long career as an FBI special agent and other experience in law enforcement. So he has dealt with this direct and in real life.
Joining him is Andrew Arthur, a resident fellow in law and policy at the Center for Immigration Studies. He also has decades of experience in immigration, was a lawyer for the old Immigration and Naturalization Service, at one point was acting chief of the INS’s National Security Law Division, has served two hitches on Capitol Hill, wrote some of the immigration law that we all have to deal with now, and also was an immigration judge for many years.
So I want to thank them for coming. And I want to ask Mark first, so you were, obviously, Border Patrol chief, and then got a promotion and you were head of CBP, which includes the Border Patrol under it. So how has the border security at the southwest border changed? Not just that numbers have gone up, but how has it changed under President Biden since he took office? If you could push the button.
MARK MORGAN: Thank you. Yeah, appreciate the question. So first of all, let me be clear: What we’re experiencing now is the worst, unmitigated, self-inflicted border-security crisis that we’ve experienced in our lifetime. Sheriff Dannels, who actually is sheriff of Cochise County out on the border, just a few days ago under-oath testimony and said that the southwest border represents the world’s largest crime scene. I couldn’t have said it better myself.
And why the focus on illegal immigration? Because that’s one of the false narratives that are out there, because what’s happening on our southwest border is about border security. But what drives – a significant part of what drives our border to be unsecured is illegal immigration – not illegal immigration; that’s a separate issue. What we’re talking about is illegal immigration. That pulls resources off the front line. Large areas of our border go unpatrolled, unmonitored, unsecured because Border Patrol agents are back in facilities processing illegal aliens and other administrative tasks. Along with that, the same thing happens at our port(s) of entry. We literally have handed operational control over to the cartels with respect to large areas of our southwest border so they can improve their power, control, and influence, so they can push more drugs, criminals, and potential massive security threats across our border. And that’s why the numbers matter. That’s why our focus on illegal immigration.
And let me give you a couple of the facts that backs up my unambiguous call that this is the worst border-security crisis in our lifetime. Our comparison should be not from Title 42, some arbitrary number, 28 months in this administration; the comparison should be from the day that President Biden took over the White House. And that is – so we should be looking at the last full fiscal year under the Trump administration, FY ’20. If you look at total enforcement encounters in FY ’20, those numbers were 646,000 and some change. Keep that in mind, because in FY ’21 that number jumped to 1.9 million, a 200 percent increase. In FY ’22, that jumped to 2.7 million, a 327 percent increase in total nationwide encounters. And right now, FY ’23, we’re at 2.5 million, on track for 3 million. That will be a 360 percent increase in total nationwide encounters in 30 months under this administration. This is the worst historic high numbers that we’ve ever seen in our lifetime, as well as the highest number from year to year.
The total nationwide encounters in the first 30 months of this administration is 7.7 million. That, ladies and gentlemen, is insanity. To put that into perspective, there are 37 states in the United States whose population is less than the total nationwide encounters that we’ve experienced in the last 30 months.
And I know this is going to be hard to realize, but it gets worse. Right now, in the first 30 months of this administration, we’ve seen 1.6 million total known got-aways. In the last – just a few months ago, the former chief of the Border Patrol under oath, congressional testimony, said that that number is underreported by 20 percent. So we’re actually looking at total nationwide got-aways somewhere between 1.9 to 2 million in 30 months. To put that in perspective, there are 12 states in this country whose total population is less than 2 million, the equivalent to the number of got-aways in 30 months. Right now, we’re in pace under the first full term of this administration – if we keep going at this pace, and there’s nothing indicating that it’s going to slow down – we’re looking at 13 million total nationwide encounters plus total got-aways in the first term of this president. That would make it equivalent to the fifth-largest-populated state in this country, just under New York.
So, no, the numbers aren’t going down. That’s a lie. And there’s no one, if you’re intellectually honest, can stand here after seeing the border, hearing those numbers, and tell us that our borders are secure and we have operational control. It’s a lie.
You asked what has changed, Mark? A lot has changed. First of all, starting with Biden, you know, campaign, how he said he was going to stop building the wall, he was going to open the border. Remember during a presidential Democratic campaign they couldn’t – I mean, they were almost elbowing each other out of the way to raise their hands when the question was asked: Will you give free medical care to illegal aliens? Every single body – everybody on stage raised their hand, including candidate Biden.
But let’s talk about specifics. What are the – what are the plethora of the network of tools, authorities, and policies that they dismantled? We don’t have enough time right now for me to get into all that, but I’m going to hit the highlights.
The asylum cooperative agreements that we had with all three Northern Triangle countries that really, first and foremost, it was designed to give those true asylum seekers relief in the first transit country they got to and eliminated forum shopping. Biden administration eliminated that.
The Migrant Protection Protocol, the Remain in Mexico program that acted as an effective deterrence program. That policy singlehandedly reduced illegal immigration by over 85 percent within a few months of its implementation. The Biden administration dismantled it.
Catch and release. We had all but ended catch and release because, make no mistake, the migrants coming to our border right now, they’re not looking for asylum; they’re looking to be part of the asylum process, which is going to release them under this administration. We had all but ended the catch and release. The Biden administration reinstated catch and release.
We had leveraged Mexico through strength and power of the United States to get them to step up to join us in the global issue that it is. At one point when I was commissioner, they had over 25,000 personnel not only securing their southern border, but also increasing interior enforcement. On day one of the Biden administration, that leverage went away.
Interior enforcement. We’ve had the highest levels of illegal immigration encounters in our nation’s history. We’ve also had the lowest numbers of deportations since ICE was created in 2003. The interior enforcement restrictions placed on the incredible men and women of ICE – basically, you have to be a known or suspected terrorist or a convicted criminal before you are a priority. We are literally having illegal aliens that have also committed a secondary crime in the United States being released back into communities because of this administration.
Their refusal to enforce the law. Secretary Mayorkas, he has viewed the law as a mere advisory opinion. He’s abandoned his oath. He’s abdicated his responsibility, refuses to enforce the law. This is the secretary that said being in our country illegally by itself is not enough to remove you. Well, I object to that because the law says otherwise.
So, look, I could keep going on. Those are just some of the highlights. So they have destroyed every element of a strong deterrence to deter those illegally entering the country and applying consequences to those that do and break our law, and put integrity back in the system by reducing the number of illegal alien false claims.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Thanks, Mark.
So, given the situation that the White House has created – which is in a policy sense terrible, but also is a problem for them – they’re using this carrot-and-stick approach with CBP One as the carrot. And if – Art, if you could sort of just explain a little bit how they’re using that to try to create a different message for what’s going on at the border.
ANDREW ARTHUR: Right. And thank you, Mark.
Let’s give the administration the benefit of the doubt. They assume that there is a – that there is a set number of people, foreign nationals, who seek to enter the United States illegally every year. They could have those people go between the ports of entry, be apprehended by Border Patrol, and be released; or the Biden administration’s plan that they rolled out on January the 5th was to have what’s called the Circumvention Of Lawful Pathways Final Rule – which, fortunately, they printed up all the parameters of, so if any smuggler out there wants to know how it works, they can explain it. Basically, what – that’s a long title. You could just call it the CLP rule, Circumvention of Lawful Pathways.
Under the CLP rule, if an alien enters the United States illegally, there is a rebuttable presumption that that alien is not eligible for asylum. And there are exceptions and ways that they can rebut it. One of those exceptions is if the would-be illegal migrant schedules a time and place to enter the United States through a port of entry they will then be processed under the old asylum rules, and here’s how they do it. As Mark said, you download the app and, while in northern Mexico or central Mexico, you can then make an appointment to show up at a port of entry. You will get a date for that appointment. Any time during that 23-hour period of the date of that appointment, you can show up at one of eight ports of entry. Five of them are in Texas. And when you are in there, according to assertions that have been made by the state of Texas, they don’t ask you whether you want asylum. They really don’t ask you anything. They run some background checks and then they release you into the United States. CBS News reported a few weeks back that 131,000 people by the end of June had been paroled into the United States who would use the CBP One app. We know from CBP’s latest statistics that through the end of July 188,500 people have either come through the ports or are ready to come through the ports using that.
Again, it is a 23-hour period at a port of entry, one of eight ports of entry along the southwest border, which means that one of those aliens could show up at 11:00 at night. Mark will tell you, you know, you have shift change and you have other personnel on duty, and they could be screened by that person. Or they could show up at the time that the kids come over to go to school, which is a pretty common phenomenon at the southwest border. Some overwhelmed Border – or some overwhelmed CBP officer is then going to have to very quickly make a determination to let you into the United States.
And again, the only information that they can base their determination on is what the United States government has. As James Comey once famously said, if we don’t have information on you, if you don’t make a ripple in the pond, we’re not going to know anything about you. We’re not going to know whether you’re a criminal. We’re not going to know whether you have terrorist ties. We’re not going to know whether you’re a member of a drug cartel. That more or less is the system that they have set up under CBP One and that’s how it works.
MR. KRIKORIAN: So, Mark, one of the ways that the administration is pitching this program, justifying it, is that it reduces the business for the smugglers – in other words, that people won’t have to, you know, pay smugglers to bring them across the border; they’ll be able to do it in a supposedly lawful, orderly way. Are smugglers still benefiting from this? Are they still making money off it, even with this CBP One process?
MR. MORGAN: Yeah, Mark, they are. And this is one of the areas I get really frustrated because I learned a long time ago that the intention – intentional omission of a material fact is the same thing as a lie, and that’s what this administration is purporting to the American people by making that statement. And I’ve heard them make that statement again and again.
Think about it. For the last 40 years, the cartels, the only thing that’s happened is they’ve gotten stronger, more powerful, and more influential, and their bank accounts have grown. And they’ve done to a large extent not just drugs, but on the backs of illegal aliens that they’ve pushed through our wide-open southwest border, especially the past 30 months. Think about that for a second.
What we’ve learned over the past 40 years of dealing with the cartels – and everybody in this administration knows it just as well as I do – they have an incredible hierarchy, an incredible ability to change what we call TTPs – their tactics, techniques, and procedures. And that’s exactly what they did. Mark, you were describing it. It didn’t take them long to adapt. They have – they’ve literally taken over the app. So now, as you said, you’re supposed to be in Mexico. Well, that’s a joke. So, quickly what they cartels did, they were able to overcome the app and they’re able to get anybody anywhere to get online now and get their application to come to a port of entry in the United States. It’s equivalent to their Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory ticket. If they have that, it’s their transit through a hundred safe third countries. As long as they have that appointment, they’re just stepping aside and letting them come on in, and they’re making their way.
And think about that for a second. So it’s no different. It doesn’t matter whether you’re going through the Darien Gap. It doesn’t matter whether you’re traveling through all three Northern Triangle countries or transiting through a couple-of-thousand-mile trek through Mexico. It doesn’t matter at the end whether you’re going to enter illegally in between the ports of entry or use the CBP One app to come to a port of entry; you’re still putting your life in the hands of the cartels. You’re still being abused. You’re still being exploited. And I promise you, you’re having to pay for it every single day. So that’s a lie.
I mean, you really think the cartels and going to step aside and say, oh, OK, you have your appointment; go ahead, free of charge, go ahead and walk to a port of entry? That’s stupid. That’s not real life. That’s not how that works. So the cartels every single day, it doesn’t matter whether a migrant is illegally entering between the ports of entry or they’re using the CBP One app, I promise you they’re paying for it.
And the other thing that I’ll say about the CBP One app, it’s not just those that are trying to claim asylum. As Art said, there’s a secondary purpose of the CBP One app, too, as well: parole, right? So if you’re from Nicaragua, Cuba, Haiti, or Venezuela, you can get on the CBP One app, and just merely from being from those countries you can get on the CBP One app and apply to be paroled into the United States. That is also against the law. That itself is a circumvention of the law. Parole is supposed to be used on a case-by-case specific purpose for a specific public benefit or humanitarian purpose. Being just born in a country does not satisfy that lawful requirement, that lawful mandate.
And of course, shocker, is that being abused? Yes. We know people that, for example, maybe were born in Venezuela, but they’ve lived in Brazil for the past decade. Guess what? Doesn’t matter. That’s not being checked. That’s not being vetted. They’re getting on the CBP One app, saying I was born in Venezuela. Boom. Next thing you know, they’re being paroled into the United States.
And the last thing I’ll say about this, so that’s why it’s very important as we’re talking about this, because this is one of – this is one of the tricks. This is part of their shell game that they’re playing, is not only, as Art said, they literally made a deal with the entire world and they said: Hey, do me a favor. This is the deal. If you refrain from illegally entering in between the ports of entry, what we’re going to do is we’re going to let you fill out the CBP One app, come to a port of entry. We’re going to continue to look the other way while you file fraudulent claims because we know – and everybody in this administration knows – the overwhelming majority of migrants coming to our borders are economic migrants. They are not the victims of state-sponsored persecution because of their involvement in a protected class. They know that, but they’re just diverting them to a port of entry. They’re letting them file a false claim while they look the other way, process them, then release them into the United States. So it doesn’t matter whether you enter in between or at the ports of entry; the same process is happening to you, the same incentive is there, and the same result – you being released into the United States. That’s why we’re calling this a shell game.
MR. ARTHUR: And, Mark, if I could just follow up on some of the points that the chief made. With respect to the people coming in and their using smugglers, this is the latest CBP One monthly update. It was published the other day. This one’s for July 2023. And it includes this line: “Effective August 9, CBP transitioned to scheduling appointments from 14 days to 21 days in advance to allow noncitizens additional time to prepare and arrange travel to the requested port of entry.” Now, if you are in northern Mexico, why do you need an extra week to hang out in Mexico before you show up for your appointment? Because of exactly what the chief just said. The cartels – well, the smugglers, the cartels with whom they’re in league and for whom they more or less work, you know, are trying to funnel those people north to get them to the border, and from further and further away. That’s what that extra week’s for. I mean, you can take a bus through Mexico in two-and-a-half days. You don’t need an extra seven days. So there’s that.
With respect to the Venezuela, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Cuba visa program, more than 181,000 people have entered the United States under that program. And again, as Mark said, you know, none of them had to show an asylum claim. It doesn’t ask you for an asylum claim before it allows you to enter the United States on that.
And he mentioned you don’t actually – many of these people haven’t lived in Venezuela, Nicaragua, Haiti, or Cuba in a while. And if you want proof of that, all you need to do is go to the southwest border, go to the shores of the Rio Grande where people cross into the United States, and you will find piles and piles of discarded documents. Inevitably, what those documents are are driver’s licenses for Venezuelans from Brazil. You have, you know, green cards for Chile for Haitians. The reason that they are dumping those documents is they don’t want anybody to know. And the first thing that Mark will tell you they do is they check your pockets for pocket trash, as we call it. They don’t want anybody to find those documents that show that they’ve been resettled in another country because that’s going to torpedo any asylum claim they may have. So –
MR. MORGAN: And, Mark, real quick, so I’m going to foot stomp on the operational update because this really gets me. I started – as commissioner, I started those operational updates. And I can tell you right now, I look everybody in the eye and I say they were legitimate operational updates. They weren’t politically driven. We were giving the data and the facts as we got them. In fact, we expanded the CBP stats portal that everyone can get online, because I truly believe that transparency was one of the most significant responsibilities we had to the American people, to get the facts out there regardless of where they stand, regardless of how they look.
The monthly operational updates now that Art just referred to, they’re a joke. They’ve totally been overcome by political appointees. If you look at it right now – and this is very careful – all they’re talking about now in the first three quarters of operational update are the southwest border numbers, and they’re only focusing on the southwest border encounters by the United States Border Patrol because that’s the only area – that’s the only area where, as Mark said, there was a slight downtick and a slight downtick in between the ports of entry of the southwest border. They’re already up to 6,000 a day. And remember, when former Secretary Jeh Johnson under the Obama administration said – because I was there; I was the chief at the time – a thousand was a bad day. We’re back to 6,000 a day. So, no, the numbers aren’t going down.
But back to the operational update. They’re only focusing on the southwest border. They are intentionally misleading the American people, because what they should be talking about are total nationwide encounters. That tells you the full picture of the magnitudes of what’s going on. That will represent the shell game that’s going on, because what you’ve had – as we both talked about, as Mark talked about – they’re literally diverting as many as they can from in between the ports of entry to the ports of entry.
And let me put that in perspective. In FY ’20, the entire year, there were 241,000 otherwise inadmissible aliens that came to our ports of entry. That’s about 20,000 a month. In FY ’21, it jumped to 294,000. In FY ’22, when they really started their shell game – started the shell game, it jumped to 551,000. In FY ’23, at our ports of entry we are on track for over 1 million total inadmissible encounters – 1 million, another record set. We’ve never had that number in the history since we’ve been keeping data since 1924 come to our ports of entry. That’s the heart of the shell game. That’s a 313 percent increase in 30 months at our ports of entry. So, no, the numbers aren’t going down. They’re simply shifting it and then diverting it and lying to the American people. It’s a shell game.
One last thing I’ll say about that. What’s also frustrating is that even in between the ports of entry – in between the ports of entry, the numbers are still not going down. They want to use that arbitrary date since Title 42 and in which we saw the number skyrocket for a couple of days. That’s BS. That’s not the date. The date is from FY ’20, the last full year of the Trump administration. And even in between the ports of entry, right now in the first 30 months there’s been a 393 percent increase in illegal aliens between the ports of entry. So, no, don’t believe them when they say the numbers are going down. It’s just not true.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Thank you, Mark. And just to clarify on the issue of that extra week now people have to schedule appointments three weeks out, if I understand correctly, what they did is the smugglers now use a VPN and they – and they tell the VPN that they’re in Mexico even though they’re in Tajikistan. And then, when they get the appointment, instead of the person flying and cooling his heels in Mexico, he stays in Tajikistan until he gets the appointment, then gets on the plane and heads to Mexico. I mean, in a sense the CBP One app is facilitating the work of smugglers in that sense.
MR. MORGAN: Mark, that’s absolutely correct. We are now active participants in the world’s largest smuggling operations. The CBP One app hasn’t deterred anything. I’ll just give you the numbers. It hasn’t stemmed the flow of illegal immigration; it’s actually helped the cartels through their smuggling operations. They’ve actually made it easier. So before the cartels had to have a robust operation in the United States as well, and now all they’ve got to do is drop them off at our front door, at a port of entry, and we take over from there. And we make it easier for the migrants – for the cartels and smuggling operations to get the migrants to our front door. They absolutely are making it easier.
MR. KRIKORIAN: The question I had for you, Art – and this is probably what you’re going to bring up anyway – but this is the point – part of the point the administration is making and one of the reasons they’re selling this is, obviously, taking business away from cartels. But the other point is these are “legal pathways” that – you know, in quotation marks. In other words, that an inadmissible alien – a person who had no right to come here, no visa, what have you – who comes through a port of entry and gets let go is somehow less illegal than someone who jumps the border and then is let go. Is that the case? Isn’t the person still just an illegal alien?
MR. ARTHUR: Yeah, no, and actually for that we’ve got to go back in time to prior to 1996. And as I look around the room, I don’t see many people who were actively reading the news in 1996. But prior to 1996, we used to have to follow what was called the Entry Doctrine or the Fleuti Doctrine. Fleuti was the name of the case that really governed this. If an alien entered the United States and was stopped at a port of entry, that alien was deemed – was deemed excludable and was put into a proceeding that offered them very few rights, basically only the rights that are included in the Immigration and Nationality Act. If, however, that alien managed to allude apprehension, make it into the United States, and be free from official restraint for any period of time, that person was deportable and got more rights in a proceeding. This was the entry – and it was absolutely ridiculous and very difficult to use.
To give you a real quick example, there was a ship called the Golden Venture that ran aground in I think it was Queens – I think it was Rockaway – and it was a smuggling ship full of Chinese nationals. And some of them jumped into the water and were picked up in the water, and some of them touched dry land. Hundreds of cases hinged on whether that person touched dry land without anybody seeing them or were picked up in the water, because of course if they were picked up in the water they hadn’t entered the United States; they were excludable. If they touched dry land, they had entered the United States and they got more constitutional rights. This was actually a pretty key point – it wasn’t even mentioned – in a 2020 case called DHS versus Thuraissigiam involving a guy who said, you know, I deserve to have an appeal of my credible fear denial.
But in any event, in 1996 Congress stepped in and they’re like: No, we’re not doing this anymore. This is ridiculous. There’s no reason to do that. And they created one system called removal. There are now removal hearings. If you show up illegally at a port – if you show up at a port of entry and you’re inadmissible or you get apprehended between the ports of entry, the law says we’re going to treat you exactly the same. You’re going to have the same inspection protocol, you’re going to have the same rights, and you’re going to be removable on the same grounds. Me showing up at a port of entry without a visa and somehow, you know, pretending that I’m seeking to enter the United States lawfully is like me going to Dulles Airport, running through the airport, running through the TSA checkpoint, getting to the gate, showing up without a ticket, and saying: I’m seeking to enter this airliner lawfully. It’s just not. And yet, you know, this is one of those things – I actually have heard this trumpeted on Fox News, is that people who are coming through the ports are doing it the right way. The right way is to go to a consulate abroad, get a visa, and come to the United States, which is not what’s going on.
MR. MORGAN: Yeah. And look, to even put it more simply – because he’s an expert on this side. I just try to put it more simplistic. There is a lot of people – as you said, Art, a lot of people think that if you walk up – oh, sorry – (comes on mic) – a lot of people think that if you walk up to a port of entry, therefore everything you do is lawful, right? That’s just not – you’re inadmissible. You have no legal status to be in the United States. It’s no different, as Art said, whether you came in between the ports of entry or at the port of entry. Without any documentation, without any legal status, you are inadmissible, meaning you should be denied entry. That should be the starting point. Just because you walk up to a port of entry does not make what you’re doing legal. That’s a false narrative. It’s misinformation. It is not accurate.
Now, what happens is they’re going to claim asylum, and then what happens under this administration they’re unlawfully then not enforcing the law. They’re not detaining individuals that should be detained and they’re releasing them in the United States, just like they’re doing if you entered in between the ports of entry. It’s no different. So they’re not trying to stem the flow of illegal immigration. They’re not trying to de-incentivize it. They’re just playing the shell game to avoid the bad political optics of more coming in between the ports of entry, jeopardizing our nation’s safety and national security. It’s a joke.
I gave you the numbers. That’s why I started with the numbers. The numbers don’t lie. The numbers continue to go up at historic levels. So I think it’s very important to foot stomp that just because somebody walks up to a port of entry does not make the process lawful.
And I’ll end with this, what I said a minute ago. Again, the overwhelming majority of migrants coming to our border claiming asylum are false claims, and the data proves that. They are economic migrants. So what this administration is doing, knowingly and with intent they are allowing our laws to continue to be exploited and letting them come through the front door as they look the other way, and then they’re calling it a “lawful pathway.” It’s a perversion and violation of the law.
MR. KRIKORIAN: There is a difference in the sense, though, that someone who’s jumping the border is committing the federal crime of entry without inspection, whereas someone coming to a port of entry is not – is not breaking that law. It’s the administration that’s breaking the law by letting them go rather than detaining them. And I wrote a piece, the headline of which is “Biden to Aliens: Don’t Break the Law – We’ll Do It for You,” because that’s basically what CBP One is allowing to happen.
MR. MORGAN: So that’s exactly right. What I – I completely agree, Mark. The only thing I would add to that, though, is knowingly and intently filing a false asylum claim is also.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Oh, OK. Right. Yeah. That’s true.
MR. MORGAN: Yeah.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Art?
MR. ARTHUR: And there are a couple – Mark just throws out stuff at such a high rate it’s like drinking from the firehose. It truly is.
But with respect to, you know, those people and they’re going to file asylum claims, the important thing to note with respect to parole is under the Biden administration – and no prior administration, including the Obama administration, has ever done this – if we release you on parole, every prior administration puts you into immigration proceedings first, puts you into removal proceedings first, and then they release you on parole. The Biden administration has decided that when it releases people on parole, you’re on parole until we put you into proceedings. And you know, if that were 60 days, which is what it originally was – it actually dropped down to 30 days when you had to report to an ICE office – but at this point ICE is so overwhelmed – there are only 6,500 ICE ERO officers in the United States. They’re so overwhelmed that at the end of March the New York Post reported that aliens were waiting until 2032 in order to even show up at an ICE office to get the charging document that’s then going to put you into proceedings.
MR. KRIKORIAN: So that’s not – that’s not waiting for an asylum hearing; that’s just waiting to cart themselves into court.
MR. ARTHUR: Waiting to get to court. Waiting to get to court.
And you know, to sort of quantify this number further, NBC News reported in February that there were 588,000 people who had been paroled into the United States who were part of that gigantic queue of people who were simply going to get the sheet of paper that was going to put them into removal proceedings. One of the things that you hear a lot out of the Biden administration is that the Trump administration broke the immigration system, broke the asylum system. Honestly – and you know, Mark and I – you know, I served under Obama. Mark served under Obama and Trump. Trump didn’t really do anything that Biden – that Obama didn’t do first. You know, there are a couple of things that I can think of, but not many. And they certainly didn’t do this.
This is literally breaking the asylum system. If you believe in asylum and believe in, you know, the Statue of Liberty holding the torch to the nations, this is the exact opposite. There are 1.642 million pending asylum applications in the United States right now. There are fewer than a thousand asylum officers to hear them and 650 immigration judges to hear them. There is no way that they are ever going to be able to get to these cases.
And this is an important point that many people miss. There are valid asylum claims. We know from historical fact that about 17 percent of all people that show up at the border get granted asylum. Those legitimate asylum claimants aren’t going to be able to get their day in court because of all of these cases that the Biden administration has flooded the courts with. That means that they’re not going to be able to resettle in the United States and their lives are always going to be tenuous. It’s just like any other court case; you’re waiting for the day so that you can finally adopt a child, get divorced, you know, win your lawsuit, whatever.
More importantly, however, many people who have valid asylum claims have loved ones back home who are in danger for the same reason, or if – or because they’re related to this person who the government really is out to get. Those people abroad are living in hell until that person, that primary applicant in the United States, can get granted asylum. And yet, the Biden administration has decided: Screw those people abroad. Who cares about them? They’d rather just simply provide safe, orderly, and legal pathways for anybody and everybody who wants to show up at the southwest border.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Which are neither safe nor legal. I mean, that’s kind of the point. But –
MR. ARTHUR: Which is neither safe or orderly.
MR. KRIKORIAN: And I have a question for you, Mark, and this sort of relates to this. Actually, maybe Art too. But the CBP One app was developed before it was branded this way under – actually while you were commissioner, but it was a totally different thing. It was for, you know –
MR. MORGAN: Lawful.
MR. KRIKORIAN: – buses and trains, lawful travelers and trade.
MR. MORGAN: Lawful trade and travel.
MR. KRIKORIAN: My point – my question here is, the administration could conceivably use it in this way if they detained everybody who showed up at a port of entry. Isn’t that correct?
MR. MORGAN: Yes, or they could actually do some vetting before they make the dangerous trek, right, because, again, part of the problem is if we wait for them to get to the United States border they’ve already put their lives and financial wellbeing in the hands of the cartels and the smuggling operation. So that’s really want we want to try to prevent. We want to try to prevent and deter migrants from making the trek because we know the overwhelming majority do not qualify for asylum; they’re economic migrants. Data, facts, and historic information supports that.
Look, this is – this is why – this is why we’re here. Everything that Art said and everything that I’ve been talking about, that’s why we’ve had 7.7 million total nationwide encounters in 30 months. That wasn’t by happenchance. That sure as hell wasn’t driven by climate change, right? That was intentionally done by this administration’s full and complete dismantlement of every effective tool, authority, and policy we had in place that worked. I rattled them off: the ACAs, the Remain in Mexico program, the wall, the ICE restriction. The list goes on and on. Those are all things that they got rid of, and they reinstated catch and release. This wasn’t by incompetence. This wasn’t through accident. This was intentional and by design. There is no way that we would have had 7.7 million total encounters.
And now the CBP One app has just made that easier. That’s what we’re here to talk about here today. And it’s so frustrating for me because, look – and I don’t know if you’re going to ask this, Mark, but you talked – Art, you mentioned safe and orderly pathway, right, legal pathway. If I hear that one more time coming out of the secretary’s mouth – I mean, look, how do we know he’s lying? His lips are moving, right? I mean, I’m so frustrated. Safe and orderly? That is one of the biggest lies of all.
You know some other data in the last 30 months? Nineteen hundred dead migrants have been recovered by CBP along the southwest border – 1,900, the most ever recovered in any administration since we’ve been keeping records. And that doesn’t include the dead migrants found by local law enforcement along the border, or the migrants that died in Mexico on their journey, or the migrants that died in the Darien Gap – one of the most inhospitable, harsh terrains known in the Western Hemisphere, owned by every cartel and bad person you can think about. Or what about the 30 percent – Doctors Without Borders has said that up to 30 percent of young women and children are sexually assaulted and raped on their journey up here. I don’t about you, but I’ve talked to Border Patrol agents whose lives will never be the same after they’ve talked to a 12-year-old migrant that was raped multiple times on her journey up here. Or I’ve talked to a sheriff deputy who, after they encountered a 14-year-old, found a bag of pills in her backpack, said, what are those? Oh, my mom gave me morning-after pills because she just expected her to be raped. Or what about the migrants, untold number of migrants that have been thrust into the life of labor or sex trafficking after they’ve already been entered into the United States?
Are you kidding me – safe, orderly, humane? That’s a lie. They’re lying to the American people. And again, you don’t have to be a border security expert. When you’ve increased total nationwide encounters by over 360 percent – because that’s where we’re at, 360 percent increase in 30 months – think about the increased number of dead migrants. Think about the increased number of migrants that have been raped and sexually assaulted. Think about the increased number of migrants now that have been thrust into the life of trafficking, suffering things – we can’t even fathom how bad it is. So, no, Secretary Mayorkas. Don’t look in the camera, don’t swear one more time that our border is secure or we have operational control, because you know it’s BS and you know it’s a lie. Stop lying to the American people.
MR. ARTHUR: And, Mark, if I could just follow up on three points that the chief made that we had discussed – we had alluded to before. You know, again, you can have a couple of guys from think tanks who tell you this is the way that I see the world, but with respect to the impact that this release policy has had on the number of migrants that Mark had talked about who have come to the United States illegally, Judge T. Kent Wetherell II’s March 8th opinion in Florida versus the United States literally said undoubtedly geopolitical factors, you know, are part of the reason why a large number of migrants come to the United States, but the reason that so many people are coming right now is because they know that under the Biden administration’s policies they will be released into the United States. This was a determination that he made after reading thousands of pages of evidence and after hearing a year of testimony, argument, and discussion on this topic. This is the law. The administration asked that this circuit – or asked the Eleventh Circuit to stay that decision and they refused to, so that is the law.
With respect to the effect that the CBP One app is having, you know, as Mark has discussed on the people who are coming here and, you know, the increase – and I believe his name is Enrique Lucero, but he is the municipal migration minister in Tijuana. He literally said the CBP One app is encouraging people to come to this country, and I know that because after the CBP One app went live the number of migrants in Tijuana increased by 188 percent. So, again, this isn’t a couple of guys from think tanks spit-balling ideas. There are actual people out there who are dealing with this day to day the way that Mark used to, you know, who say that.
Finally, with respect to the dangers, part of the reason – in fact, the main reason why DHS – why the Biden administration did away with the Migrant Protection Protocols was because Mexico is such a dangerous place. We can’t send people back to Mexico it’s so dangerous down there. The initial master calendar hearing in MPP on average was held within two to four months of the time that the migrant was sent back to Mexico. In February, the monthly update told us that migrants were waiting for three months for their CBP One interview dates. Literally, CBP One was making people wait in Mexico as long as MPP had. If it is so much better, why in the world did you do that?
By the way, after I brought up this weird contradiction, they stopped printing that number of how long people had to wait in Mexico for their CBP One dates. If you’re a congressional staffer, you got to just read through these things. You’ll have hearing ideas galore.
But, yeah, it truly is just a shell game. MPP allowed people to have their asylum claims heard very quickly in the United States. Most were denied because that’s just the way that it goes. Most asylum claims are denied.
MR. MORGAN: And Art, look, I’ll even add to that as well. So Mexico is so dangerous. Well, then why is the Biden administration, the few that they remove, removing them back to Mexico, right? It’s just a joke. It’s a big lie. So they say Mexico is dangerous while they’re still removing people back to Mexico and, as Art said, having them wait longer for the CBP One app appointment than we did under the Remain in Mexico program. It’s just stupid and full of hypocrisy. And they continue to lie to the American people.
But again, I think it’s important if I – if I could leave you with one thing, again – because you brought up the operational updates again – it is not about the southwest border, especially now that they’re playing the shell game. It is about total nationwide encounters. And it’s not just about those that they’re diverting to the southwest border ports of entry. You have to look at interior POEs as well because, remember, those individuals that they’re paroling in from those four countries, they’re not coming to the southwest border. They’re being flown into, like, JFK, right? But their operational update? No mention of that. They don’t talk about that. And again, the last three months, the last 90 days, ports of entry have been getting close to or exceeding a hundred thousand per month. The number is climbing. The last 90 days, it continues to climb.
Last month, I think – well, I think it was like 110,000 at our ports of entry. But that wasn’t just at the southwest border. That meant 40(,000), 50,000 that they paroled in flying into airports like JFK. But no mention of that. The only – again, the sleight of hand, the magician; look over here while I’m doing something else over here, right? They only want you to look at the southwest border in between the ports of entry. Total nationwide encounters, that’s what tells the story, including the magnitude of the problem. But also, it will clearly illustrate the shell game that they’re playing. All you have to do is type in CBP stats and the first chart that comes up, total nationwide encounters. That’s all you need to look at.
MR. KRIKORIAN: We got a couple of questions from listeners. One of them addresses – you actually mentioned, in other words, that some share of the people who make CBP One appointments aren’t walking across the bridge at El Paso; they’re getting on a plane in Caracas and flying to Kansas City or whatever it is.
MR. MORGAN: Right.
MR. KRIKORIAN: So I’m pretty sure we have a FOIA request in on this, but do we know the numbers that are going to interior ports of entry under CBP One?
MR. MORGAN: We do.
MR. KRIKORIAN: We do.
MR. MORGAN: We do have that. It’s convoluted, but if you go to CBP stats it’s there. It’s –
MR. KRIKORIAN: Oh, I see. Yeah, you subtract the northern and southern border and it’s the remainder, yeah.
MR. MORGAN: Correct. Correct.
MR. KRIKORIAN: But you have to – you have to do some math.
MR. MORGAN: You do have to – you kind of have to know how –
MR. KRIKORIAN: And reporters did not take math. So –
MR. MORGAN: Well, in their defense, which – I can’t believe I’m going to defend reporters, but it is a little bit difficult to navigate through there. But one way, Mark, what you just said is right. So, when you’re looking at the ports of entry, one easy way to do that is look at southern border and northern border. If you combine ports of entry – if you combine the encounters and the northern border and southern border ports of entry, and then you compare that against total nationwide OFO encounters, that will get you pretty close to the numbers of the parole and into interior airports.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Right. And most of those people are CBP One, right? They’re not –
MR. MORGAN: Correct.
MR. KRIKORIAN: I mean, some of them will be something other, right?
MR. MORGAN: Correct.
MR. KRIKORIAN: But most of them are.
MR. ARTHUR: And let me just follow up on that point because it brings up an important point I don’t think that we’ve mentioned. But you are a force of nature, Mark, so it’s hard to remember everything.
But part of the problem is that this huge influx of illegal migrants has degraded Border Patrol’s ability to actually secure the border. There are 17,000 Border Patrol agents. They work 50-hour weeks, which means that at any given time there are 5,550, more or less, agents on the southwest border. The border is 1,954 miles long. It’s a huge border with just a handful of people who are keeping an eye on it.
When these massive number of – massive numbers of migrants show up at the border, agents get pulled off. And that creates gaps in security, and the cartels exploit this. Our friend Rodney Scott wrote a letter to the Senate that explained this. The cartels exploit this. They will send over, you know, kids and, you know, families so that a bunch of Border Patrol agents get pulled off, and then they can use those gaps to run drugs and other aliens into the United States. Part of the reason why we have a fentanyl epidemic in this country is, you know, Sinaloa can run in as much fentanyl as it wants right now.
But the Biden administration, through the CBP One app, is shifting or sharing that burden now with CBP officers at the ports of entry. CBP officers at the ports of entry aren’t used to dealing with people who don’t have documents. You show up. You present your documents. Anybody who’s traveled abroad has done this. You hand it to the officer, they ask you some questions, and they wave you through. With somebody with one of these CBP One app appointments – now 1,450 people a day at any point during a 23-hour period – shows up, that officer is off the line for as long as it takes to process that person. That means that it’s a whole lot easier to run drugs, other contraband, and potential terrorists and bad people in through the ports because there’s nobody watching the store when that agent is off the line.
MR. MORGAN: That’s right.
MR. ARTHUR: This is a huge problem.
And when – as Mark had mentioned, you know, it’s about – nearly all of the people who come in on the Venezuela, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Cuba visas come through the United States – I think it was 181,000. You know, Indianapolis is an international port of entry, the airport. There aren’t that many CBP officers there. And when somebody shows up with one of these things, they’re basically taken off the line. If you’ve ever stood in a long line at Dulles or BWI or JFK or LAX, you know, waiting, you know, with everybody else in line, you can just imagine they just slide the thing that says it’s closed and everybody has to go find another line. This simply puts more burdens on that system.
And let me remind you there were actually 20 hijackers who were trained for September 11th. The 20th hijacker, whose name escapes me, was stopped by an inspector at Miami International Airport who was trained and had enough time to say: I don’t really think you’re coming to the United States in order to go to Disney World. And that person was excluded from the United States and lionized in real time for their ability. We are degrading their ability to stop all those other people when we overwhelm the system with problems it was never meant to handle.
MR. MORGAN: Here’s the crux of the issue right here. So for those of you who don’t know – I think most everybody in this does – but as a commissioner, I oversaw not just Border Patrol but I oversaw the officers that work all our ports of entry in this entire country. And not just the 2,000 miles on the southwest border, but we have 5,000 miles on our northern border and thousands of miles of coastal region that we’re responsible to protect and try to stop bad things and bad people from entering and hurting this country. That’s a hell of a job to do.
And so when we talk about it, I want to foot stomp on what Art said because this is very important. Let’s take the southwest border only for just a second. Let’s just look at Border Patrol. We know because of the millions of illegal aliens that are coming in every single day, as Art said, Border Patrol agents are pulled off the frontline, away from their national security mission. In some areas, 85 to 90 percent – I’ll stay it again: 85 to 90 percent – of Border Patrol agents are pulled off and away from their national security mission back in facilities relegated to administrative duties connected to processing and releasing millions of illegal aliens. That’s insanity. Literally there are large strategic locations on the southwest border that are unpatrolled, unmanned. We are literally every single day expanding the cartels’ operational control over the southwest border so they can increase their ability/capacity to push drugs, criminals, and national security threats across our southern border. That’s a fact. Ask any Border Patrol agent that has spent five minutes on the southwest border and they’re going to tell you exactly what I told you. That’s reality.
Again, I’ll go back. First 30 months, 1.6 million known got-aways, closer to 2 million total got-aways. Yeah, borders matter. Yeah, and why do we have a got-away? If the majority of aliens coming across turn themselves in and literally wait for Border Patrol agents because they know they’re going to be processed and released into the United States never to be heard from again, why the hell do we have a got-away, right? You don’t have to be a border security expert to get that: Because that’s where the criminals live. That’s where the murderers, rapists, pedophiles, aggravated felons, smugglers, traffickers, gang members, that’s where they live, among the 2 million got-aways that now call the United States home. That’s the impact that illegal immigration has on the United States Border Patrol in between the ports of entry.
And as Art said, the same exact impact happens at our ports of entry. I’ll give you one example, what Art said about extended wait times, closing lanes, a secondary – you don’t have as many officers in secondary when somebody’s gotten referred to secondary because of something derogatory. You don’t have as many officers there to do that.
I’ll add one more. As commissioner, I went down there and I saw it firsthand: Southbound operations, proactive/preventative southbound operations where they confiscate and seize untold number of weapons and U.S. currency. I mean, weapons going southbound are actually more valuable than U.S. currency. How many you think – how many proactive/preventative southbound operations are being conducted right now when you have officer(s) pulled off to have to process 1,4(00), 1,5(00), 1,600 a day? And that’s just when they’re processing with CBP One app. You could still come to the port of entry without the app and they’re still processing you. So, yeah, illegal immigration has an impact on our capability, our readiness, and our ability to secure our borders.
MR. ARTHUR: And Mark, I do want to follow up on that because Mark brings up a very important point. When I was in Cochise County, which is in Tucson Sector, a couple of weeks ago, I was told – now, I wasn’t told this officially because Border Patrol wasn’t talking. We were – it was just a congressional hearing; why would Border Patrol be allowed to talk to them? But I was told that 90 percent of the agents were off of the line in Tucson Sector. And that’s the biggest sector by, you know, staffing in the country. So you know, this isn’t like an underfunded sector. It’s 262 miles and more than 3,000 agents, I think.
Because of that, the Cochise County sheriffs have to step in to fill the – these are – this is a sheriff’s department in a(n) underpopulated county – have to step in to fill the void to stop the traffickers from bringing drugs into the United States. Part of that is because they’re cops and that’s what cops do.
The other reason is there are so many high-speed chases through Cochise County where drug mules are – most of these drug mules are like 16, 17 years old. They’re recruited on, you know, TikTok and WhatsApp. But, you know, are driving through at high rates of speed that, you know, the locals are terrified and they just want to cut that down.
When you hear about Operation Lone Star and, you know, the floating barrier in the Rio Grande River, and you know, Texas Department of Public Safety down there, the reason they have to be down there is because there are no Border Patrol agents to patrol that border. You’re pulling state troopers out of Abilene, which is nowhere near the border, and you’re sending them for five weeks away from their families to the southwest border to, you know, run through the brush and try to – (inaudible). I mean, this is – so when you hear about, you know, oh, you know, Governor Abbott’s such a meanie and he hates people, no. They don’t want the drugs and the crime that comes with it in the state of Texas, just like Sheriff Dannels and the Cochise County sheriffs don’t want the crime there.
MR. KRIKORIAN: OK. Art, we’re running short on time. I had one more quick question, but I also wanted to make the point that even if magically every one of these people was fully vetted, even if we could read their minds and there was no fentanyl and all that, Congress has still passed numerical limits on immigration. There’s only so many people who are supposed to be moving here per year for reasons related to job competition, assimilation, all of that. And so my point here is that even if in some alternate universe all of the promises about vetting and control and everything were still kept, were real, it still would be subverting immigration law because there’s a reason we have numerical limits on immigration.
MR. MORGAN: Can I take the first part and then I’ll turn it over to you? So –
MR. ARTHUR: Yeah. Go ahead.
MR. MORGAN: Because you mentioned it, Mark, I hate to – so I feel a need to talk about the vetting real quick, since you mentioned it.
MR. KRIKORIAN: OK. Quickly, though, because we’re running out.
MR. MORGAN: Quickly.
They’re not vetting. It’s a lie, right? Think about this. In the last 30 months, we’ve encountered migrants from 171 different countries, from countries you cannot imagine – Uzbekistan, Russia, China, goes on and on and on, Cuba. Do you really think that a Cuban male or Venezuelan male, do you really think that we’re getting the equivalent of their NCIC check or their criminal history from Cuba or Nicaragua before we release them? Of course not. That’s a fallacy. It’s a lie. We are literally releasing people every single day into this country that we have no idea about their criminal background and who they really are. That’s happening every single day. It’s impossible to vet somebody and everybody from 171 different countries within 24 hours of them being released – not to mention, again, the 2 million got-aways who we have no idea who they are, that they call the United States home. So, no, we’re not vetting anybody. Not even close.
MR. KRIKORIAN: And Art, one last point – we do have to wrap it up – I just wanted you to just briefly touch on. There is a hearing tomorrow, right, on one of the many lawsuits that relate to CBP One. And sort of just in a very kind of Monarch Notes way, Cliff Notes way, what’s the story with the legal challenges to CBP One?
MR. ARTHUR: So, yeah, that’s a case called Texas versus –
MR. KRIKORIAN: It doesn’t really matter.
MR. ARTHUR: Texas versus DHS. It’s before Judge Drew Tipton down in Texas. So that is a challenge by the state of Texas to the Venezuela, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Cuba parole program. Congress changed the law back in 1996 in order to curb parole abuses like the one that the – the ones that the Biden administration is engaging in. So Judge Tipton is almost definitely going to find for the states and vacate that program. Probably the Biden administration will go to the Fifth Circuit and ask for a stay of that order. I mean, I’m just telling you how it’s going to go. They’re going to ask for a stay of that order, that’s going to be denied, and then the Biden administration is going to go to the Supreme Court for a stay. Supreme Court’s probably going to deny the stay, but they’ll probably grant certiorari before judgment, basically jump over the Fifth Circuit, and send this right to the justices.
In the recent decision in Texas versus the United States – that’s why it stuck in my mind – the Supreme Court said states don’t have the ability to challenge arrests and detention of aliens, but if the Biden administration were to give benefits to aliens that they didn’t deserve – which gets to Mark’s original point – then, you know, we’ll consider that. Congress makes the rules as it relates to alien admissions. You know, it comes from the naturalization clause in the Constitution. It’s been black-letter law for 140 years. All of these things that the Biden administration is doing is undercutting the people’s representatives in Congress and doing an end run around it so that it can make the law in its mind more fair.
MR. KRIKORIAN: So the administration can basically create its own immigration law –
MR. ARTHUR: Exactly.
MR. KRIKORIAN: – rather than actually comply with it.
Well, thank you all for coming. Thank you for those who are watching on C-SPAN. This will be on our website, CSIS.org, for people who want to see it there. We’re on Twitter as well at @CSIS_org. I believe that’s our handle, at @CSIS_org. Thank you, and we hope you come to our next event.