Book: OVERRUN - How Joe Biden Unleashed the Greatest Border Crisis in American History
Chuck Holton's YouTube Channel
Charlotte Cuthbertson's Epoch Times Author Page
The Center for Immigration Studies hosted a panel discussion on February 21 featuring three reporters who have covered the border crisis from the frontlines. Their on-the-ground field reporting in Central America, Mexico, and along the U.S.-Mexico border – far from Washington, D.C. – reflects the stories and actions of the primary sources: the migrants, law enforcement, and the residents impacted by the millions of foreign nationals coming to America.
The conversation centered around a new book, “OVERRUN: How Joe Biden Unleashed the Greatest Border Crisis in U.S. History”, authored by Todd Bensman – the Center’s Texas-based Senior National Security Fellow and a former counterterrorism intelligence practitioner and journalist. Bensman writes, “Unfortunately, a fog of fierce partisanship in the media obscures that fact that the border crisis is even happening, as well as basic truths Americans desperately need to know about this historic event.”
Bensman was joined by Chuck Holton, a freelance correspondent who resides in Panama and has reported extensively on immigration throughout South and Central America and Mexico and Charlotte Cuthbertson, a senior reporter for the Epoch Times who covers the Texas border while living in a small border town.
Todd Bensman, the Center's Texas-based Senior National Security Fellow and author of “Overrun: How Joe Biden Unleashed the Greatest Border Crisis in U.S. History” and “America’s Covert Border War: The Untold Story of the Nation’s Battle to Prevent Jihadist Infiltration”. Prior to joining CIS, Bensman led homeland security intelligence efforts for nine years in the public sector. Bensman’s body of work with policy and intelligence operations is founded on more than 20 years of experience as an award-winning journalist covering national security topics, with particular focus on the Texas border.
Chuck Holton, the author of seven books, is a freelance correspondent and an award winning war reporter. He resides in Panama, where he has written extensively on the migration foot trails through the Darien Gap jungle and on migration throughout Mexico and South America. He reports for the Christian Broadcasting Network and has a video podcast entitled “The Hot Zone with Chuck Holton”.
Charlotte Cuthbertson, a senior reporter for the Epoch Times who covers the Texas border. For the past two years, Charlotte has lived on the border, where she has witnessed the crisis firsthand. She has seen and analyzed the struggle law enforcement and EMS face in dealing with human smuggling – the topic of her upcoming documentary.
Mark Krikorian (Moderator), is the Center’s Executive Director.
Date and Location:
February 21, 2023
MARK KRIKORIAN: Good morning. My name is Mark Krikorian. I’m executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies.
And we are here to discuss a new book, which the publication date is today – let me hold it up for you – “Overrun: How Joe Biden Unleashed the Greatest Border Crisis in U.S. History” by Todd Bensman, an analyst with the Center for Immigration Studies. This is his second book and, obviously, timely. And so we are going to have Todd talk a little bit about his new book, which is on all the usual places where books are sold, and then we’re going to have two respondents who are going to be talking about some aspects of the issue of the Biden border crisis and the book that they’re intimately familiar with.
So, first, our author, Todd Bensman, was a foreign correspondent, a reporter for a number of years. Followed that by being an intelligence analyst with the Department of Public Safety in Texas, and has worked at CIS since 2018, I think. Is that right?
TODD BENSMAN: Yeah.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Yeah.
MR. BENSMAN: Goes fast.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Yeah, exactly.
And then responding to the book and sort of offering their own insights from direct experience are two people who have some interesting perspectives on this.
Charlotte Cuthbertson is a senior reporter for the Epoch Times who covers border security, which itself, of course, is interesting. But she is herself an immigrant originally from New Zealand, now a U.S. citizen. But after a number of years of living in the Acela corridor, she has now been for the last couple of years living basically on the Texas border, so covering the border from the border. And so we’ll have some interesting stuff to say from her front-row seat down there on the border seeing what’s been happening with illegal crossings, illegal immigrants running from the Border Patrol, and what have you.
And our other respondent is Chuck Holton, who is a freelance correspondent, often covers war zones. He’s currently based on Panama and has reported extensively about sort of upstream part of the Biden border crisis, specifically what’s happening at the Darien Gap in eastern Panama – that gap because it’s an area where there’s no road connecting from – all the way from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego there are roads, except in that one little gap. And so it’s a jungle passage that people making their way north to our border from South America have to go through, and there’s all kinds of horror stories about what’s going on there. Chuck reports from there often; has actually been a guide for at least one congressman, maybe more – I don’t know – to see firsthand what’s going on there. For a number of years – he’s author of a number of books. He’s been reporting for a number of years for the Christian Broadcasting Network. And he has a video podcast called “The Hot Zone with Chuck Holton” that you can Google and find out.
So we’ll start with Todd, then Charlotte, then Chuck. And then we’ll take questions, if any. Todd?
MR. BENSMAN: OK. Well, thank you, Mark. And I appreciate being here and finally having the book out.
As you mentioned, I am a recovering journalist, and an old journalist – journalism aphorism holds that a primary purpose of journalism is to write the first draft of history. I wrote “Overrun” in that spirit, as a first draft of this particular historic event. And one of the primary missions of the book is to establish in fact that this is a historic event in U.S. history. Nothing like this has ever happened to the United States. The mass migration that has happened at the southern border reaches far beyond the threshold of what would qualify as a historic event by every nonpartisan metric, and I mean by the numbers – by the government numbers.
So events like that always warrant book-writing. Somebody needs to write a book about historic events that are happening. This particular one is still in progress. Makes it a little bit difficult, but we’ve had two years of this to happen and we need to have comprehension about how we got here so that at some point we can figure out how to get out of this.
The subtitle of my book, “How Joe Biden Unleashed the Greatest Border Crisis in U.S. History,” is supported by the numbers, so I thought I’d take you through some of these numbers. Every record since President Eisenhower established recordkeeping for this sort of thing in 1960 stands smashed completely. Between 2010 and 2016, Border Patrol apprehensions typically never exceeded 500,000. We might have exceeded that once or twice here and there, but they didn’t exceed 400,000 in 2011, 2012, and 2015. But then in 2021 they broke through the ceiling at 1.7 million in a fiscal year and kept going to 2.4 million in fiscal 2022 – mind you, from 400,000 in a typical year, which seems like a lot – at the time seemed like a lot – to 2.4 million. So far in 2023 – like I said, this is still ongoing – 874,000 in the first few months. We’re on track at that rate to hit 2.8 million if it stays – if we remain at that rate. They’ve changed to rechanneling a little bit through the ports of entry now, so you might not see it like that. But rest assured, just as many people will be crossing through the ports of entry under the new humanitarian parole as would have crossed had they been jumping illegally.
To give you some context, a few years ago the former secretary of DHS, Jeh Johnson, was quoted saying: “If I woke up in the morning and apprehensions were more than a thousand a day, I was going to have a bad day.” He was going to have – he was – we’re in real trouble at a thousand a day. We’re looking – we stand for years now at 7,000 and 8,000 a day. That’s history in the making, 200,000 a month. In December, we had 250,000 in a single month. Think of four Super Bowl stadiums filled coming through that border every month – four Super Bowl stadiums.
Border Patrol all together in the last 24 months has laid hands on a stunning 4.6 million people, 4.6 million times since Inauguration Day, and this traces to Inauguration Day as I’ll explain and as the book shows. As a defending force, the agency collapsed in – Border Patrol agency collapsed in retreat so that it could do the administrative processing necessary to move all those people into the country. That left long swaths of the southern border undefended, nobody there. I’ve been there. I saw it. I’ve driven it. No Border Patrol.
Those are the people that we know about, but there’s a whole other segment that we know less about except that it happened. These are called got-aways. These are people who are running and got away through those undefended gaps. We can see that in addition to the 4.6 million we might want to count, conservatively speaking, another 1.5 million who got away through the – through the border, meaning they penetrated past the 100-mile mark and are in the interior of the country. Before the Biden administration, that number might have been 20,000 or 30,000 a month. Now we normally see 60(,000), 70(,000), and 80,000 a month got-aways just coursing through that border.
The number who have actually gotten in – remember, we’ve had Title 42, the pandemic era pushback policy for COVID. We were pushing under Trump probably about 88 percent of everybody who was apprehended back. That changed the day after Biden took office and actually on Inauguration Day to where they were opening huge exemptions for certain categories. And so we know that at least 2.4 million were actually allowed into the country in just the first 18 months of the crisis. You can extrapolate beyond that. We lost track of some of the records for that because those came to us via a court case that required the government to report, and that ended in June of last year. So we don’t really have a good handle on how many have been allowed into the country, but that rate indicates at least 6 million people will have joined the United States by the end of Biden’s term. That’s probably a conservative estimate given the got-aways, et cetera, and it may very well be 7 (million) or 8 million over the next two years. That is a – I mean, all together for the four-year term. That is a megacity on the order of L.A. and Chicago combined added to the country.
There are other metrics – first time evers – that show that this is history.
For example, 295,000 unaccompanied minors have entered. In 2013, they didn’t even keep records on that because there were so few. We didn’t have unaccompanied minors as a problem. We have had at least 300,000 by now, probably far more. That was by the end of 2022. They’re still coming.
Never have so many crossed that were not from Mexico or Central America. Nearly 43 percent of everybody hitting that border are from 150 other countries around the world. I’ve met personally immigrants from 20 different African countries, from all over the Middle East, from Asia, from the entire world. And Chuck Holton is going to talk more extensively about that traffic and that phenomenon.
Never have more on the FBI’s Terrorism Watch List been apprehended – 98 in fiscal 2022, another 51 just so far this year, 14 the year before. That’s in the context of got-aways. If you think about a million-and-a-half people that got through, if we caught 120 or 150 on the Terror Watch List, how many didn’t we catch?
Interior deportations. Never has the number of deportations from the U.S. interior fallen so far so fast. For the first time since federal immigration laws were passed in 1903, a president effectively ended deportation of every kind in America as it has been known for decades and left in its place a first-ever sanctuary nation. The number of those ordered deported by a judge who got to stay tripled from 70,000 in 2020 to 260,000 by May 2022. Deportations from the interior fell 267,000 in 2019 to 59,000 in 2021. Under Biden, ICE arrested 48 percent fewer convicted criminals, deported 63 fewer – percent fewer criminals, and issued 46 percent fewer requests to other law-enforcement agencies to detain criminals.
I could go on with these numbers. We have never been here in this country. That warrants a book. It also warrants regular media coverage, which we have seen precious little of for such a major transformational event.
Never have Mexico’s ruthless crime syndicates and their paramilitary forces earned so much money from their control of the crossings and from smuggling. And for the first time in memory, the cartel proceeds from this smuggling event are said to have surpassed those from drug smuggling. And prior to this, they might have made, you know, 500 million (dollars) a year. Now they’re up to as high as $13 billion a year. All that money is going to buy what? Weapons, equipment, and influence in Mexico. Not good for U.S. national security.
Never has an American president decided as a matter of national policy that the executive branch of federal government would abdicate from its congressionally mandated duty – constitutionally mandated duty to follow congressional statutes, to not work against a flooding torrent of humanity across the southern border, and to not try to plug the dam. This is the first time we have ever had a president just simply abdicate from immigration – enforcing immigration law on purpose and knowingly.
And never have more immigrants died trying to take advantage of the president’s unprecedented policies admitting large categories of border crossers into America. Last year, the United Nations declared the U.S. border the most dangerous in the world. They talked about 1,200 dead up until last year. Chuck’s going to tell you about the real number.
Why is this happening? So, for the book, as just part of journalistic duty – I was trained in this – I went to the primary sources. The primary source for this book are the immigrants, the people that are crossing, and why they’re doing it. What are their calculations and rationale? And to a man, woman, and sometimes child, they cited President Biden’s border policies. They said it. It’s not me. And I quote them elaborately and at length in the book.
What are these policies that we’re talking about? Just real quickly – there are a lot, too many to recount here, but I’ll name two main ones.
One is that the president, when he entered office, decided to open up huge exemptions to Title 42 pushbacks for three main categories: family units, pregnant women, and unaccompanied children. Why did he do that? We’re not a hundred percent sure, but we do know that the government of Mexico was watching the American election very closely, and when they saw – and had written a law.
Remember that Mexico had been taking untold thousands and thousands of pushbacks from the Trump administration. They had to take care of them. Their law required that they be in detention centers and that they be fed and clothed and taken care of. That was a high-maintenance duty, expensive, terrible duty. Nobody in the Mexican government wanted to do this. They wanted to pass that hot potato to the Americans the second they could. So they drafted a law in secrecy, in quiet, and watched the election. And within 72 hours of seeing Joe Biden elected, they passed that law – no press, nothing – and they set a delayed fusion – fuse, I’m sorry – a delayed fuse for the implementation of that law to eat up the transition period between Trump and Biden, so that when the – and it had the effect of releasing all of these family units from detention at once 10 days – with 10 days of Trump’s administration to go. Where do you think they went? They headed to the border and they waited for Inauguration Day. And on Inauguration Day, they poured over the border.
The administration exempted them from Title 42, which meant that the snowball of that became an avalanche very quickly. The entire world heard about the family units pouring through from Tamaulipas into Texas mainly, and also they were taking women who were seven months pregnant. So guess what we started to see? And unaccompanied minors. We will leave nobody behind in Mexico starve to death, they said. They messaged this.
What we’ve seen at the border – oh, and the second – the second thing that they did was, in addition to opening up these massive exemptions, is that they eliminated deportation. So if you want to run and you can get past the Border Patrol, you are enticed to do so because all you – all you have to do is just get through and you’re in. You will not be deported. You will not be detained.
This had the – I’m finishing up here, but this had the effect of two different looks to the border. One is give-ups – huge, huge numbers that were just crossing in and saying, take me in. And they were being put on a conveyor belt into the interior of the country on buses, using NGOs. This is a massive operation that’s still going on to this day, seven days a week, 30 days a month, buses, planes, every which way getting into American cities.
But then the other look of this are the runners and the got-aways, which is the – another kind of pandemonium, kind of schizophrenic thing that’s happening to the border. And Charlotte is in the middle of that. She lives in the middle of that and she’s going to tell us about what that looks like.
With that, if I can just – I wanted to just show you just a small smattering, if I’ve got a few minutes, of –
MR. KRIKORIAN: How long is it?
MR. BENSMAN: Bryan, can we just show two, the –
BRYAN GRIFFITH: A and B.
MR. BENSMAN: Yeah, A and B. These are from my interviews. I’ve had –
MR. BENSMAN: (From video.) What do they – what were they told –
(As an aside.) Oh, you can run that one. It’s fine.
(A video presentation begins.)
MR. BENSMAN: – would happen when they got over here, legally?
INTERPRETER: He said and they can be helped.
MR. BENSMAN: They could be helped if they crossed?
INTERPRETER: OK, they can give them asylum.
MR. BENSMAN: You’re going to get asylum?
INTERPRETER: And then they can get close to their families.
MR. BENSMAN: Did they hear that the new president is going to help them? Is that why they came now?
(Chorus of “si.”)
MR. BENSMAN: Si? Can they talk more about that?
(Chorus of “si.”)
MR. BENSMAN: Where did they hear that?
INTERPRETER: (In Spanish.)
MR. BENSMAN: Did the parents hear that if they brought a child they would have a better, easier time to get in?
INTERPRETER: (In Spanish.)
(Video presentation ends.)
MR. BENSMAN: Can you move to the next one?
(A video presentation begins.)
MR. BENSMAN: What news were they hearing from the border that made them all of a sudden decide to leave?
INTERPRETER: Yeah. So we – I heard that they were helping the Venezuelans, and that’s when we sold everything. We were already in transit. We had just crossed the Darien Gap, and that’s when we heard that they’re applying Title 42 to Venezuelans.
MR. BENSMAN: What kind of help did he hear – when he says “help,” what does he mean by “help,” the Americans helping him?
INTERPRETER: Oh, that they were letting us into the country.
MR. BENSMAN: Ah.
INTERPRETER: That they weren’t being expelled. Yeah. That’s when – when we heard that they were allowing Venezuelans to enter the U.S., that’s when we decided to sell everything and make the journey.
(Video presentation ends.)
MR. BENSMAN: OK. I’ll pass the dais.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Thank you, Todd.
And as you can see from the videos and from Todd’s comments, this is a reported book. This isn’t kind of just a wonky book. There’s wonkiness in it. There’s tables, a couple of them anyway. But this is Todd talking to actual people and reporting on what’s going on. I especially like right at the beginning he has a – relates a conversation with a coke-snorting illegal alien border guide leading people across the river, which was a colorful – a colorful scene. But he’s run into a lot of that stuff.
I don’t think, Charlotte – I mean, she can tell us – has run into any coke-snorting illegal-alien guides – (laughter) – but she lives in a small town right at the border and is not just reporting on it, but living it and seeing it every day. So, Charlotte, if you could tell us, what’s going on in your neck of the woods?
CHARLOTTE CUTHBERTSON: Sure. Thank you. It’s good to be here. I look forward to reading your book, Todd.
So I live in a very small Texas rural county called Kinney County in southwest Texas. And last week, when I told a friend that I was coming up – she’s 87 – I told her I was coming up to D.C. to talk about the border and the smuggling issue, and she said: Well, you tell them that your 87-year-old friend sleeps with a pistol under her pillow now. So that kind of encapsulates the change that’s happened in the area where I live.
So Kinney County is the red box there. Basically, it sits – it shares 16 miles of border with Mexico. It doesn’t have a port of entry, but there’s Del Rio on one side and Eagle Pass on the other side. And so that area has become one of the busiest for illegal crossings. But the unique thing about Kinney County is that it is a thoroughfare for the got-aways. So as the (kowtow ?) pushes the large groups of families, draws Border Patrol resources to process those big groups, then the got-aways come around the sides. And they’re trying to get to San Antonio, which is sort of their first big hub, which then they can distribute throughout the U.S.
So the got-aways come through by foot on the local ranches or they come on the – sort of the back roads through Kinney County via vehicle. They’re trying to avoid a Border Patrol highway checkpoint just southwest of Uvalde, and so a lot of the back roads come through Kinney County.
So why are they trying to get away? Most of the time, they’re not caught. We don’t know who they are. We don’t know where they’re from, where they’re going. So the ones that do get caught give an insight into their population. Often, they’re previously deported. That’s where your criminal population is. They would have no legal basis for getting into the United States, so they avoid law enforcement by any means necessary.
So, as Todd already said, the number of known got-aways that Border Patrol has recorded in the last two years is somewhere between 1.2 million and 1.5 million people. We don’t know what we don’t know. Border Patrol doesn’t have eyes along the whole border, and so there’s the unknown got-away population, which is impossible to estimate.
Last week, the Del Rio Sector Border Patrol chief put out a tweet. He said that their agents had just apprehended three child-sex predators within 48 hours, including a Salvadoran man convicted of child rape in Washington state, a Mexican man convicted of lewd acts with a child in Florida, and a Salvadoran man convicted of unlawful sex with a child in Utah. So the got-away population does include criminals that have committed crimes all over the states. They’re not staying at the border. They’re going everywhere.
So let’s see. Ah. So the people that are getting away – the ones that walk on the ranches, the private ranches – I just want to read you a couple of quotes from a couple of ranchers that live on the border, and they see a lot of this traffic come through their property. A lot of them can’t use their property as it’s intended.
This is from one rancher: “I’ve personally lived here for the last 26 years, and what I have witnessed over the last two years has been completely insane. Safety has become a major concern. My wife, my kids, our employees, and myself wear a pistol everywhere we go on the ranch. We have been cussed at, threatened, had rocks and sticks thrown at us. Our dogs have been beaten on multiple occasions by illegal aliens. Every hunting camp I have has been vandalized. Our headquarters have been broken into. Over half of our highway gates have been run through. Most of my hunting blinds have been vandalized. One was set on fire and several used as bathrooms.” So it’s a daily occurrence for the ranchers down there.
Another rancher, he talked about how in 2014 Border Patrol apprehended 37 illegal immigrants on his property. He now sees on his own cameras 10 miles in from the border at least 200 individuals a night coming through his property. He’s had to hire – he’s moved his family off the ranch. He’s had to hire a full-time employee who spends 40 hours a week fixing fences and picking up trash. That’s all he does. He talked a little bit about the financial loss, which is hard to estimate because they’re just patching things up, mostly water-related – water troughs for the animals and the fences. He estimates he spent about $300,000 last year just patching things up. If he had to replace it all, it would be more than $800,000.
So, aside from the walkers, there’s the smuggling in the vehicles. And I just want to show you a two-minute video. It just kind of, I guess, encapsulates the issue a little bit. It’s a draft intro of a documentary that I’ve got coming out soon.
(A video presentation begins.)
MR. : We have no idea who they are. All we know is they went to the extra effort to make sure that they didn’t get caught. You can safely assume that anybody that went through the extra effort to avoid U.S. Border Patrol was not an asylum seeker by default.
MR. : They’re far from asylum seekers. We’re getting a little everything. We’re catching sex offenders, murderers, people that have been deported for various heinous crimes.
MR. : If somebody rapes and kills somebody, and we find out that they came through here on my watch, that’s unacceptable.
(Video presentation ends.)
MS. CUTHBERTSON: So that’s the county sheriff. And this is – this is all in a very small county – 3,100 people, one main town of 1,800. So there’s a lot of activity.
As far as the vehicle smuggling, in 2020 the sheriff said that they arrested 169 smugglers – alleged smugglers. Last year, 2022, that number was 741. So it’s – everything’s more than tripled.
And the smugglers, it’s a whole nother industry. The smugglers are being recruited on social media mostly – TikTok, WhatsApp – with promises of lots of cash. Smugglers have been coming down from Ohio, Washington state, Illinois. They’ll fly down to San Antonio, rent a car, come to the border, pick up a carload, and come back. Smugglers from Oklahoma, Louisiana, Florida. The sheriff told me a couple of weeks ago they’re now starting to see license plates from New York and New Jersey.
Last year in May, the deputies caught a 15-year-old kid smuggling. During the traffic stop, he tried to run over one of the deputies. They shot him multiple times. He survived. He was back in October. Sheriff said he still had holes in him. He was still healing. He was back in October picking up another load.
Another smuggler was being chased by Texas state troopers. The driver started shooting at oncoming cars in the hopes that DPS would stop the pursuit and let him go, basically.
Another smuggler crashed into a house in the town, two occupants in the vehicle. A lot of the times when the smugglers flee, they’ll crash. There’s been carloads of just 11 bodies flying everywhere. A lot of times they have to call in the helicopter from San Antonio for all of the injuries.
EMS director has said that his average callouts for a year for the Kinney County EMS would be about 250 a year, and in December he was at 561 calls so far for 2022. And he sees everything. He sees amputated limbs from people jumping off trains and getting run over, snake bites, everything – car wrecks. And he doesn’t get paid back. He’s down $73,000 at the moment. He sends a bill to Homeland Security and it comes back not eligible, so that means the burden is on the county for that.
So just one other thing I wanted to mention to finish off is these people that are coming across, whether they give up or they’re a got-away, they have to pay the cartel one way or another. And the sheriff said recently they picked up a young woman from Honduras. She was in the brush, trying to get away. She was in debt $5,000 to get from Honduras across the U.S. border to San Antonio. And she had been told that she would be in San Antonio for a while to pay off her $5,000 debt before she was allowed to get to her final destination, which was the East Coast, where she would owe another $5,000. So everyone has to pay when they come across, whether they give up or get away. Some pay more depending on their nationality and the mode of coming across.
And I’ll hand you over now to – (laughs) –
MR. KRIKORIAN: Thank you, Charlotte. What’s the name of the documentary that you’re working on?
MS. CUTHBERTSON: Well –
MR. KRIKORIAN: OK, you don’t have it yet here.
MS. CUTHBERTSON: My working title is “The Got-Aways,” but we haven’t decided for sure yet.
MR. KRIKORIAN: OK. Very good.
So now – Charlotte’s on the U.S. border. Chuck is way upstream in Panama, where he’s based, and is going to tell us about what the flow of illegals attracted by President Biden’s policies looks like down there.
CHUCK HOLTON: Right. So I’ve been covering immigration for 20 years and even in the last couple of years have been, basically, to every portion of that pipeline. And it is a pipeline. It’s almost an unbroken conga line of people coming north.
And these are not the same kinds of people that you saw a decade ago, who were mostly coming for work, mostly from Latin America, especially from northern Latin America and Mexico and Central America. We are seeing increasing numbers of what they used to call “exotics” because they were so strange, but they’re not so strange anymore.
And so I’ve traveled the length and breadth of that pipeline trying to get a more granular look at not just who’s coming, but why they’re coming. What are their motivations? And who is the smuggler? This is the big question that I think we don’t really – a lot of people don’t understand, is that they hear about the smugglers that are bringing these people up and they imagine these shadowy cartel figures or the tatted gangbangers with the face tats and stuff, and there are some of those. But what we find is that a vast majority of the smugglers are the governments themselves, including our own government.
As I have reported on immigration – not just in Latin America or even in the Western Hemisphere, but around the world – one of the things that you see is that immigrants are virtually always used as weapons. They’re weaponized in one way or – one form or fashion. In this case, the amazing thing about this flow, the overrun that Todd is talking about in his book, is that the – what we’ll find is that the migrants are being weaponized by our own government against our own citizens. And this is a very strange kind of dynamic that affects everything about how they get here and why.
So I want to show – for those of you that are not familiar with the Darien Gap, I want to give you some visuals to kind of have in your head while we talk about this, talk about the difficulty and the danger of coming through the Darien Gap. And, well, you see there on the map this is the border between Colombia and Panama. It is about the most extreme topography on planet Earth. Bugs the size of your hat – (laughs) – you know, houseplants the size of houses. This is the – there’s a swamp the size of Delaware in there, and that’s one of the reasons why you will never see a road through that area. It’s also a very good barrier for – to slow down the drugs coming from South America and even to slow down diseases like hoof-and-mouth disease. There’s a long-running program right along the Darien Gap that’s paid for by the U.S. government that continues to this day where they fly airplanes over the Darien Gap every week and drop screwworms to – or, I’m sorry, they drop, like, a bug that kills the screwworms that carry the hoof-and-mouth disease.
So it’s an important ecosystem down there, and that ecosystem is being destroyed by what we’re seeing with just record numbers of migrants. When I started covering the Darien Gap in about 2014, they were seeing numbers that – annual numbers that equal monthly numbers now. And that’s never happened before. This has only happened during the Biden administration. So now we’re seeing last year a quarter-million people coming through the Darien Gap from 150 different countries.
And so let’s take a look at this video that I have that shows one of the – this is the most recent trip I made down there, just a couple weeks ago, and one of the interesting things that we see happening, the shift in the kinds of people that you see coming through there now.
(A video presentation begins.)
MR. HOLTON: Not long after sunup on the steamy Panamanian side of the Darien Gap, dugout canoes make their way downriver to a tiny Indian village. The dugouts aren’t carrying locals, however; they’re packed with migrants from all over the world whose destination is the U.S. southern border. Recent policy changes by the Biden administration allow 120,000 migrants per month to skip this challenging trek by preregistering using a new mobile app. Even so, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas maintains the goal is not to stop migrants from entering the U.S.
SECRETARY ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS: (Audio only.) What we’re trying to do is – and more broadly – incentivize a safe and orderly way and cut out the smuggling organizations. And I’ve seen the criticism of it as a ban, but it is not a ban at all.
MR. HOLTON: Since the new policy only covers Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, migrants from other countries now fill these routes.
The migrants that are coming into Puerto Limon here are the lucky ones. They’re the ones that had a little more money and were able to take the shorter route through the jungle that only took three or four days instead of six days or more. These tend to be more from places outside the Western Hemisphere – places like China, Afghanistan, India, places like that. We’re going to go down and talk to some of them right now.
Many Chinese people said they decided to come now because of their country’s harsh zero-COVID policy.
MR. : Mauritania.
MR. HOLTON: Mauritania. Wow!
Among those arriving at Puerto Limon this day included two American journalists, Ben Bergquam and Oscar Ramirez. They’d just followed the migrant trail all the way from Colombia, walking three-and-a-half days through the jungle.
BEN BERGQUAM: As we’re heading out we see the same group stuck here, waiting to figure out what to do.
MR. HOLTON: Ask them what happened to their guide?
OSCAR RAMIREZ: It was way harder than what I thought that it would – it was going to be. On the first day, it was really hard. We got a little bit lost right there in the second day, so we had to backtrack. That was double the effort. And on the third day, we were exhausted. You know, a lot of the people were dehydrated. We saw a lot of migrants dehydrated. So it was really bad.
MR. HOLTON: He’s not exaggerating. Yet, Colombian smugglers are using videos like these to advertise in China, making the trek seem like a fun and easy hike in the woods. Chinese pay smugglers up to $20,000 per person, although the true cost is measured in misery.
MR. RAMIREZ: It is completely destroying the environment. It is risking their lives. It is risking child’s lives. It’s human torture, what they’re doing. And they’re abusing – they’re abusing people. That is the most shocking thing for me, that they put a human being through that and they’re promoting that. It’s really false advertisement, what they’re doing.
MR. HOLTON: Second Lieutenant Vicente Guerra (sp) and his team of SENAFRONT border police regularly recover bodies of those who die of heatstroke or drown during river crossings.
SECOND LIEUTENANT VICENTE GUERRA (SP): (Through interpreter.) The dangers these migrants face are enormous because they have no experience surviving in the jungle. Others bring children through this. It’s a whole different level of risk they are taking. We carry everything we need in case we have to spend the night in the jungle. These people have nothing.
MR. HOLTON: On this trip, the SENAFRONT team accompanied Ben and Oscar on their journey, making careful notes and keeping an eye out for bandits willing to prey on migrants. After experiencing it for themselves, the journalists had a clear message.
MR. RAMIREZ: People should look for other routes for people to migrate or a safe way or a safe pathway for people to go through another place that they want to migrant. But the Darien, no.
MR. BERGQUAM: Don’t come. Don’t put your kids through this. Don’t put yourself through this. Don’t be raped. Don’t be robbed. Don’t be murdered by the cartels.
MR. HOLTON: From Panama, I’m Chuck Holton for CBN News.
(Video presentation ends.)
MR. HOLTON: So I think I want to go back to the quote from Alejandro Mayorkas there. What he said – he did not say we are trying to stop people from coming, we’re trying to discourage people from coming. He said we are trying to incentivize people to come.
Now, Alejandro Mayorkas visited Panama after we started to report that the route that people were taking through there was taking them six-and-a-half days. And by talking to the migrants themselves when they came out of the jungle, asking them how many people did you go in with and how many people did you come out with, we determined that between one in seven and one in 10 of people who went into the jungle never came out again. Now, many of those people don’t show up on any database. They don’t even have passports. Many of them are stateless persons. Or if they did have a passport, they got it robbed or they threw it away. They very often get rid of them on purpose. And so there’s no record of them in there. And so the true numbers of people who have died in the jungle in that trackless wilderness is impossible to even calculate. But again, just the best way we could do it was saying how big was your group when you went in and how big was your group when you came out. We even went to the Colombian side and looked at groups and met people as they went in, and then came around and found them on the Panamanian side when they came out and measured the people they were missing. And what we found is that between 10 percent and even a little more than that of the people who go in there did not come out again, to the point where the Indian villages that they first come to after walking six days through the jungle – these are – these are very small Indian villages deep in the Darien that don’t have running water – I mean, don’t have electricity or, like, a well. They got their water from the river. But they could no longer drink the water out of the river because of all the dead bodies that were in the river upstream. And so they were having to bring bottled water into a place that gets 12 to 15 feet of rain a year in order to drink so that their people could survive because they couldn’t drink the water out of the river like they’ve done for 500 years or more.
So the changes that we’re seeing is that – and you might ask, like, well, why would people from Afghanistan and Syria and China come through the Darien Gap? Why don’t they just fly to Mexico? Well, they come to the Western Hemisphere to the only place where they can get in, and that’s typically Ecuador because Ecuador will let anybody in without a visa. Sometimes, some countries they can go to Brazil and start there, but then they have to take buses up to the Darien, walk through the Darien.
Once they get through the Darien Gap, though, the governments become the smugglers. Because the government of Panama doesn’t want a quarter-million people in their country that they have to care for, and so they put them on a bus and drive them to the Costa Rican border. And the Costa Rican – at the Costa Rican border, they walk across, they get picked up by the authorities there, and they get put on a bus and taken to the Nicaraguan border. So on and so forth, all the way – it’s a hot potato, like you said – all the way to the – to the U.S. southern border. And they know this. They know this.
So when it came out that you could get into the United States easier if you were a pregnant woman or if you had a child with you, we saw an explosion in the number of pregnant women and children walking through that jungle. And I’m talking about – like, I just met a woman the other day that walked through there with a one-month-old baby, if you can imagine that. And so many of those babies would get washed away when they were trying to cross a river because there’s no bridge. They had to swim across these big rivers and they’d just get washed downstream. They’d lose them. They had – in one year, I think the year before last, they had 39 children – so young that they couldn’t tell you where they were from or even maybe tell you their name – come out of the jungle without their parents because the parents died of exposure or drowning or whatever in the jungle, and the children would come wandering out of the jungle with no parents.
And Panama doesn’t know what to do with them. They don’t know where they’re from. There’s no way to even determine what country they’re from. And so they would – and they don’t have a system for that in Panama. So they would put them in a hospital or put them in a hotel or something and try to figure out what – you know, they’d put an ad in the paper looking for family members or anybody that knew who they were, and when nobody came forward then they would just give them a Panamanian name and put them in school. And so there’s a lot of Juans and Marias that are actually from, like, Congo or someplace now that are – that are now growing up in Panama as orphans. And Panama typically doesn’t have an orphanage system, so there was no system to deal with that. So they really – they had to create a whole new section of SENAFRONT to deal with that.
What we’re seeing now is a tremendous number of Chinese people coming through. And that doesn’t diminish the number of Cubans and Venezuelans and Haitians that are coming through. Up until just recently, that was the biggest numbers of people coming. Those people now can come directly to the United States with the help of that CBP One app if they have a sponsor in the U.S. But that has not diminished the numbers of them coming through the Darien Gap so much. And when you talk to them and you say, you know, the U.S. government says you have to go through this CBP One app, and they say, yeah, we tried, the website was down or they say it’s full, they’ve already reached their quota, remember that’s 120,000 people a month that the Biden administration is escorting into the United States. And they’re already claiming, as we said they would, that we have reduced the numbers of illegal crossers by 120,000 a month. No, they haven’t. They’ve just pre-legalized them. It’s like TSA Pre-Check for those people coming through and it just allows them in. And then they – as the government very often does, they just change the metrics. They change how they measure. They don’t – they don’t change the numbers; they just change how they measure the numbers. And so the people that we’re seeing coming through the Gap now are saying, well, I’m from Haiti, but they don’t know that and I don’t have a passport, so I’m just going to tell them I’m from the Dominican Republic and, therefore, I’m not subject to that 30,000-a-month quota coming through the CBP One app. But, as I showed there, we’ve seen a tremendous number in the number of Chinese people that are coming, and they’re coming for the same reasons everyone else is coming.
Now, keep in mind, how many countries do they have to cross through to get to the United States border? It’s over a dozen, and in any of those countries they could build a life. In fact, the majority of Haitians and Cubans that you see coming through the Darien Gap now on their way to the United States are not coming from Haiti or Cuba. They have for years been in places like Peru and Chile, making a living, making a life. They’re well-dressed. They’re well-fed. They have iPhones. They’ve been making money. But they’re coming to the United States now after being three, four, five, six, seven, eight years in making a life in another country specifically because the gate is open. And so this is what you see. There’s a direct correlation between the messaging of the administration here in the United States and the number of people coming through. There’s a direct correlation in the types and demographics of the people coming through based on the policies of the United States, those pull factors, OK?
So the push factors that everybody talks about in the media is war and oppression, they’re fleeing war and oppression. Well, yeah, Haiti’s a really bad place to live. You don’t want to live in Haiti. But the people that are coming to the United States that are Haitian are not coming from Haiti. They’ve been living in the Dominican Republic for many years. They’ve been living in Chile or Peru for many years. And they’re coming right now because people are handing out cookies in the United States.
I’m going to tell you a quick story about a Cuban couple to illustrate that point. There was a Cuban couple I met coming right out of the Darien Gap. Their feet were in such bad shape from trench foot that they couldn’t walk by the time they got out of there, and I literally treated them. Me and my sons gave them first aid when they got out because the skin was sloughing off their feet and they just had raw, bloody feet when they came out. They were a couple – a married couple that had both been schoolteachers in Cuba, and their combined salary in Cuba was $45 a month. They decided to come to the United States. And so then I gave them my phone number and I said: I’m trying to track the route that you take to get to the U.S. southern border, so every time you move would you do me a favor and just text me where you are, text me your location? And they did. And they showed me the route they took all the way to the United States. Took them about three weeks or a month, maybe.
And I happened to be visiting my family in Dallas when they made it to El Paso, and they texted me and they said: We made it. We’re in the United States. And I said, wow, that’s great. I said, if you make it through Dallas I’m here for a few days. I’d love to, you know, buy you a cup of coffee or something. So I was able to meet them in Dallas. And they said: Hey, could you do us a favor? We need a ride over to this church in Fort Worth. And I said, OK, I’m going that way. So I gave them a ride over to the – I guess that makes me a smuggler. (Laughter.) They were already in the U.S., you know, so. One of my things, I’m never going to help people get to the United States. Once they’re there, I guess it doesn’t matter so much. And I was very interested to see why they wanted to go to this church.
Well, there was a program administered by the state of Texas and that through this church was – well, administered through the church where they could sign up and get a stipend for two years to kind of help them get their feet under them now that they’re into the United States. But they had – they knew how to game this system because of some of the WhatsApp groups and stuff that they’re part of that are – where migrants tell each other, hey, this is where to go and this is what to do. So rather than go in as a married couple, they went in as two single people and signed up twice and got twice as much money. So they came out of there with about $1,200 a month for two years that they could – that they could use to live on. Then they got on a bus and went to Miami and signed up for a similar program in Florida – again, two different people. So within a month of arriving in the United States, they were making $3,200 a month in stipends and benefits from the federal government and two different state government that were supposed to be to help them get their feet under them. That would have gone away once they got jobs, but instead they went and got jobs under the table that they didn’t report.
And so I actually visited them maybe six months later in Miami and they were making $60,000 a year between what they made working and the stipends that they were still receiving. They had two cars, they had a house, and they had had a baby by then that was an American citizen. They then were sending money back to their friends and family in Cuba to finance the next round of illegal migration coming to the United States. And in this way, the U.S. taxpayer is in large part functioning as the smuggler because we’re paying people to come north and we’re paying for that next wave of migration.
Now, I want to end by telling you one more way that taxpayer treasure is being used to assist the migrants in their journey north. You probably know that the United States funds the vast majority of the United Nations. And as a part of the United Nations, there is the Organization for Immigration and Migration. This is – again, listen to the wording here. It’s the Organization for Immigration and Migration. That’s to assist with immigration and migration. We’re funding that. And what we’ve seen, as Todd and I have traveled around, again, all over Latin America, is that in many places these people would be stuck but for the fact that they can go to a center, they can go to an office in Cucuta, Colombia; in Tapachula, Mexico; in various places along the route; and they can register with the Organization for Immigration and Migration and can receive a check in the form of a debit card. They can receive a Visa debit card that they can then use to fund the next leg of their journey to survive as they go along. And this is happening all along the route, all the way up to the U.S. southern border, and we’ve seen it ourselves in many places.
So, with that, I’ll end and we can go on.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Thank you, Chuck. And Todd writes about that in the book, about this U.N. funding, basically, which is essentially U.S. funding of this illegal immigration.
And just – I just wanted to point out, Chuck, both his CBN reporting and his video podcast, “The Hot Zone,” it’s not just border stuff or even just Latin America. He also has been covering the war in Ukraine pretty extensively. He covered the war – the Azeri-Turk war against Armenia. He’s covered it all. Wherever anybody’s shooting at anybody else, he’s usually there reporting on it.
So, since I paid for the microphone, I just want to ask the first question, I guess really for any thoughts anybody has. Why is the Biden administration doing this? You know, as people have said, well, it’s importing voters, or there’s money involved, or whatever. I mean, what are your thoughts about why this is happening? Todd, maybe you could give it – take a first shot at that.
MR. BENSMAN: I can take a first shot at it. Yeah, the book in chapter four, called – a chapter called “The New Theologians,” describes how a cabal of politically fringe migrant-advocate organizations were able to ascend to real power with their ideas with the Biden election and the White House, and took control of the immigration portfolio and still have control of that immigration portfolio to this day. And why I say that they’re a fringe cabal or, you know, group is that their ideology holds that, you know, we’re in a borderless world – that they have ideas about how, you know, no immigrant is illegal; that the U.S. immigration enforcement system is akin to the Jim Crow laws, that it’s immoral; that detention is immoral; that deportation is immoral; and that these have to be done away with, and if we can’t do away with it by law we’ll just – now that we’re in power, we are going to systematically ignore every law on the books for immigration control.
Why they want to do that is, I think, partly to do with just the gratification of finally having power to implement these ideas. The book describes who they are. It names names and describes how they ascended to power and where their ideology comes from. But I think it’s also important to note that mainstream – the mainstream, you know, traditional Democratic coalition positions have never countenanced anything like this. The Barack Obamas, the – you know, the Clintons, even Bernie Sanders up until 2016 were – you know, like, Barack Obama, when he was in office, would say: Hey, I’m not a king. I can’t just ignore immigration law. I mean, my job, my duty requires that I – that I deport people. It’s the law. But in this administration, people were able to ascend into positions of authority in the White House and the State Department, political appointees in all the DHS agencies that have been systematically decoupling the administration’s duty to enforce the law from what’s happening on the border. And this is what’s enticed everybody to get in.
I also speculate that when you have a mass-migration crisis of this volume, of this incredible volume, that the migrant advocacy-industrial complex from which these people emerged and came into authority in the White House profits by the hundreds of millions of dollars a year from federal contracts. And when they’re not profiting from federal contracts to move those numbers in, they are retail fundraising, you know, with the cute little baby and the little kids and pictures and video of their certain death that they’re fleeing. Certain death is the narrative, that, you know, there’s money to be made. Everybody is cashing in on this. And I’m a cynical journalist who believes that, you know, money might also be a significant factor in having policies like this.
MR. KRIKORIAN: So doing well by doing good I think is the –
MR. BENSMAN: I guess so.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Charlotte, any thoughts on what’s driving the administration to do these kind of things?
MS. CUTHBERTSON: I don’t really have anything to add from Todd’s, you know –
MR. KRIKORIAN: OK. Chuck?
MR. HOLTON: You know, I’ve always believed that you shouldn’t ascribe to malice what could be more easily explained by stupidity. And at the beginning, when I first started covering immigration, I saw that the legal immigration pathway was so broken and so difficult and so costly that it forced a lot of people to come illegally. And the Democrats just – in order to save face would say, well, yeah, well, we – you know, it’s OK. Nobody’s illegal.
And then I started to learn about there’s more than one way for these people to vote. I mean, they don’t have to grant them the right to go to the ballot box in order for them to vote in the United States. Many things get apportioned based on mere numbers, and it doesn’t matter if those numbers are legal or illegal.
And so one of the things we saw, especially during the Trump administration – and not because of the Trump administration, but because the Census of 2020 was coming up – was that the left was pushing people toward these sanctuary cities. You’ve noticed a change in this, and I want to talk about this. We saw people coming – we saw CNN and MSNBC airing what amounted to be infomercials in Latin America in Spanish saying, here is how to come to the United States illegally and here is a list of cities that will welcome you with open arms. You can find those articles and videos online even to this day. And they named these sanctuary cities: These are the places you want to go if you come here illegally.
And it was kind of hard to wrap your brain around. Like, why would they be advertising for these people to come to their cities when we know that it’s expensive for them to host illegal migrants in their cities? It raises the crime rate. It raises – I mean, like in Charlotte, North Carolina, 88 percent at one point of the – of the crime that was being responded to by the police there was – the perpetrators turned out to be illegal migrants. And so it’s very costly. Why would they encourage that?
Well, then you think about the way that apportionment works. The simple number of bodies in a place counts toward apportionment. And here, due to some great work done by some people here at Center for Immigration Studies, they figured out that the Democrats figured that they could pick up up to four seats in Congress because of simple apportionment. That’s a way that illegal migrants actually end up voting just by their presence, OK?
Now, what’s the change that we’ve seen? Since the 2020 Census is over now, now there’s not as much incentive for them to try to pack illegals into these sanctuary cities. And now, when the Texas governor sends people to New York or sends people to Washington, D.C., the mayors of those cities really complain about it. They don’t want those people there anymore. Now they want to send them to red states, send them somewhere else, anywhere except for our city. And so I think that is sort of proof of concept of one of the reasons why they want to do it.
MR. KRIKORIAN: I think we have time for a question, maybe two if they’re short, from the audience. Yeah. Yeah.
Q: Well, I was just going to say we’ve talked a lot about the impact on the border and the suffering of the migrants, and these things really, obviously, matter. Can anyone speak to maybe some of the broader impacts on American society of a growth of 2 (million) to 3 million in the illegal immigrant population in a short period? So, for example, we spend $15,000 per student in the United States. So if you add a million kids, it’s $15 billion. What does that maybe mean for schools in some places at a time we struggle to fund schools? Or we have a record number of working-age people out of the labor force right now, so maybe that’s helping us ignore that problem and helping to keep – and real wages haven’t grown, you know, to keep pace with inflation, particularly for working-class people. So I was wondering if you could speak to any of those issues, sort of maybe the interior impacts of this, more run of the mill, other than the very important issues of crime and social disorder and so forth.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Todd, you have a whole chapter on a particular school district that’s been affected by this.
MR. BENSMAN: Right. I can take that.
One of the central characteristics of this mass-migration event is that the – that the demographics skew to children/families because those – that was – those were the demographics that were exempted from Title 42 immediately, from day one. And so you had this tremendous number of – I mentioned 300,000 unaccompanied minors. And you had – you saw the immigrants up on the screen saying, yeah, if I have a child I know I can get in. And those children have to go to school.
In the book, I – it’s hard to estimate how many came in, but I think I have something on the order of 1.3 (million) to 2.6 million children, I think, have entered the country. And one of the obvious places where that’s going to strike and impact is going to be on school districts, public school districts, immediately. That is undoubtedly happening across the nation.
What that translates into – and I do have – in the final chapter I showcase a small rural school district in East Texas that was swamped by over a hundred thousand illegal immigrants who piled into the local school district and forced nonstop annual, you know, votes for bond elections, for bonds to expand the physical facilities, and to buy vast farms of portable classrooms, and to pay for ESL teachers and ESL curriculum. That was an – that’s a really extreme case study. It’s actually a true happening case study in one small place that changed the nature of everything. And I believe that that is happening at school districts from coast to coast throughout the interior: bond elections, portable classrooms, ESL teachers, all sorts of other kinds of problems inside those school districts.
That’s not answering the overall labor question, but I think that’s an obvious first impact for what is happening in the – what’s happened in the last two years.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Yeah. I think let’s take one last question.
Q: Yeah. Neil Munro from Breitbart.
Can you guys –
MR. KRIKORIAN: Hold the mic in front of you.
Q: Yeah. Can you guys tell me where you see the federal money popping up along the immigration trail? What groups does it fund? What construction can we see on video? What bus lines does it operate?
MR. BENSMAN: I mean, I can – I can start with that. But so United Nations – different components of the United Nations – Chuck mentioned IOM. It’s also UNHCR and UNICEF.
MR. HOLTON: UNFP and all that, yes.
MR. BENSMAN: Yeah. All of them are involved in this thing.
I recently wrote about a budget document. It was too late – came out before my – too late for the – to include in the book. But the United Nations is looking at – 2023/2024 – at spending $1.7 billion on aid and assistance along the migrant trails. Four hundred and fifty million (dollars) of that is supposed to go for direct cash assistance. That means in the form of the debit cards that we see up and down the trail from, you know, South America all the way up to Reynosa, Mexico, for vouchers that are to pay for bus tickets for long-range transportation of families north, to pay for lodging at hotels and hostels – youth hostels, and to pay for medical – you know, pharmaceutical care, doctors, everything that you would need to stay on the trail and keep moving and to actually help to be moved north. Four hundred and fifty million (dollars) this year and another 380 (million dollars), I think, for next year – million.
So there is an infrastructure down there. I’ve seen it. I’ve talked to the migrants, the immigrants who had – they showed me their cards, told me how much they get. You know, the U.N. does not deny this. They’ve explained and defended it as something that is a humanitarian – coming out of a humanitarian impulse.
The U.N. money also is going to fund operations such as legal training for asylum. They hold huge seminars educating thousands and thousands of people about what their rights are for once they reach the southern border or through Mexico. One operation in Mexico is designed to provide psychologists who unearth repressed memories of persecution so that they have this all together when they – by the time they reach the southern border. They’re very involved. It’s very intricately intertwined with the trails.
MR. HOLTON: I’ve even seen them step between Mexican federal police and the migrants to keep the migrants from being detained on the Guatemala-Mexico border and hold off and tell the migrants, run, run, run, and then they block. These are actual, you know, agents of OIM that are out there assisting with this.
One other thing that I just wanted to point out because it’s just kind of mindboggling. On the Colombian side of the Darien Gap, OIM and the U.N. are passing out tons of condoms. And that’s because there are rape gangs in the Darien that are raping virtually all the women that come through there. And they’re basically telling these women: You’re probably going to get raped in there, so here’s a condom you can give to your rapist in order so that you don’t catch any diseases or anything like that. And Ben Bergquam and Oscar “Blue,” when they went through a couple weeks ago, they found tons of used condoms in the jungle on the trail as they were walking north. So this is unbelievable that the United States is actually funding, you know, birth control for the rapists down there.
And I could go on and on, but we can – we can talk more.
MR. KRIKORIAN: One last thing about the costs, Charlotte. Where you are, I remember reading – I think Todd has talked about this or you’ve written about it – some of the schools have to build walls now around the property because of all of the flow of these got-aways and smugglers coming through the community.
MS. CUTHBERTSON: Yeah. Where I live, the school is on one of the main roads that splits off into two. Two smuggling roads come off that. And so the school spent $60,000 on giant boulders all along that road because there’s so many high-speed chases along there and bailouts. I don’t know if you know what a bailout is, but the driver stops and everyone flees. And then they have had to build fences around the school as well. And that school goes into – the school superintendent told me not so long ago that it’s not uncommon to go into a lockdown at least once a week and sometimes several times a day just because of the smuggling activity going past, so.
MR. KRIKORIAN: So this is a cost on top of the ESL and extra schools that Todd has talked about in that school district he described. This is actually security, essentially, in places that are in the way of the smuggling routes, an extra cost.
So let’s end it there. I want to thank all the panelists – Todd Bensman and Charlotte Cuthbertson and Chuck Holton. The book, “Overrun,” is on all your favorite places to buy a book, Amazon and elsewhere. And this panel will be on our website as well for people. It’s recorded, so people can watch it later.
Thank you, everybody. Thank you for coming. And we will try to get this – get the sales number of the book as high up as we can. Thank you, Todd.
MS. CUTHBERTSON: Thank you. (Applause.)