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Tag Archives: Border Security


DHS Braces for Terror Threat on Southern Border

National security officials fear newly freed Afghan terrorists may exploit border crisis

By Joseph SimonsonThe Washington Free Beacon

LA JOYA, TEXAS – APRIL 10: A U.S. Border Patrol agent takes the names of Central American immigrants near the U.S.-Mexico border on April 10, 2021 in La Joya, Texas. A surge of immigrants crossing into the United States, including record numbers of children, continues along the southern border. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

The Taliban’s release of prisoners throughout Afghanistan poses a security threat on the U.S.-Mexico border, according to senior Department of Homeland Security officials and national security experts.

The Taliban freed thousands of prisoners, many of whom either worked directly with or had ties to al Qaeda and ISIS, when it captured Bagram Air Base on Aug. 15. Afghan soldiers surrendered the base with virtually no resistance, leaving U.S. intelligence officials with little ability to track suspected terrorists. The crisis at the southern border could prove an inviting target for terrorists, according to the DHS official, who requested anonymity to speak candidly.

“We’ve always been surprised by the countries of origin we see individuals coming from along our southwest border. It’s more than likely some Afghans will arrive now as well,” the official told the Washington Free Beacon. “It’s definitely a national security threat, and the strain of forces currently along the border would make it more likely that some would slip through illegally.”

The intelligence community warned the administration about terror threats at the southern border just weeks after President Joe Biden announced the planned withdrawal from Afghanistan. National security officials warned the White House in a classified memo, first reported by the Free Beacon, that border patrol officers had arrested two Yemeni nationals on the terrorist watch list as they attempted to cross into the United States from Mexico. One of the two men was also on the FBI’s no-fly list. Their names have not been released to the public.

The Biden administration did not respond to a request for comment.

Senators from both parties pressed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Mark Milley on whether the Pentagon would change its terror assessment of Afghanistan following the collapse of the U.S.-backed government. The two acknowledged their report to Congress in June—that Afghanistan contained only a “medium” risk of terror groups—was likely obsolete. 

Individuals who had worked on assessing terror threats at the southern border told the Free Beacon that the surge of migrants has left border patrol officers ill-equipped to face the new terror challenge. Former Immigration and Customs Enforcement chief of staff Jon Feere said the record-setting influx of illegal border crossings will only exacerbate the threat.

“When it comes to cross-border illegal immigration that goes undetected, there is obviously no background check taking place,” Feere, who now works at the Center for Immigration Studies, said. “Customs and Border Protection apprehended foreign nationals from countries across the globe and that means there are likely many aliens from problematic countries getting past the border patrol already.”

Border patrol agents already complain about a lack of resources to adequately police the southern border. Biden administration officials have also come to acknowledge the strain. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas privately told border agents, “If our borders are the first line of defense, we’re going to lose and this is unsustainable,” according to Leaked Audio of his remarks. 

More migrants were recorded crossing into the country in July—212,000—than at any point in the last 21 years. Illegal crossings jumped 13 percent from June, which previously held the 21-year record. 


Texas Has A Sovereign Obligation To Protect Its Citizens With Border Enforcement

The Biden administration’s damaging conduct is obvious to most Americans, but Texas — and other states — are not bystanders in this war for Americans’ safety, security, and primacy.

By John A. ZadroznyThe Federalist

Texas Has A Sovereign Obligation To Protect Its Citizens With Border Enforcement
Photo Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

Margot Cleveland’s recent article here in The Federalist asserted Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent executive order barring the transportation of foreign nationals by non-official actors to limit the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 was not authorized under constitutional principles or federal law.

Cleveland asserts Abbott’s order is “illegal” because it interfered with federal immigration authority and that its foundation in state public health law was “irrelevant.” Cleveland also contends that “there is nothing [Gov.] Abbott or state and local officials can do about the Biden administration’s complete disregard for the security of our southern border.”

Respectfully, Cleveland’s statements are constitutionally inaccurate, reflect common misunderstandings of the basic principles that anchor our republic, and are arguably negligent from a public safety perspective.

States Are Sovereign Entities

The foundational flaw in this argument is rejecting the dual and mutually supportive concepts of state sovereignty and federalism. Bluntly stated, the American states are sovereign entities, not provinces. Our system is structurally and fundamentally different than virtually almost every other national governmental structure in the world.

Because our states are sovereigns — with their own constitutions, laws, and obligations to their citizens — and not mere appendages of our federal government, they are authorized to wield substantial, non-symbolic power within their own territories. An assertion that states function in a realm of permission-based or symbolic authority is just flat wrong.

State sovereignty, and the voter-based power that grants that sovereignty, is in turn an essential component of federalism, which provides the checks and balances that guard our freedoms. Remember, there are two crucial types of federalism at work in our system: horizontal federalism and vertical federalism. When most Americans talk of federalism, they are likely talking about horizontal federalism, the three branches of the federal government, the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. These coequal branches ostensibly keep each other in check and prevent overreach.

But vertical federalism is just as important as horizontal federalism, if not more so. The same checks-and-balances philosophy behind the three-branch design of our federal government is no less a part of the interaction between state governments and the federal government.

The Founders, who created the federal government to benefit the states, did not think states would just behave like pieces of a centralized government. They fully banked on states jealously guarding their power and pushing back against federal overreach as needed. Indeed, the odds are pretty good that the U.S. Constitution would never have been ratified at all if the states had been told they were voluntarily ceding their states’ powers to a centralized government.

States Can Absolutely Control Their Own Resources

Applied to the situation at hand, state sovereignty and vertical federalism absolutely authorize Abbott and any other governor — Republican, Democrat, or other — to serve their citizens within the boundaries of their state constitutions, laws, and obligations. Here, we have what is state government leadership issuing an instruction to state-funded officials to protect the public health of state citizens in a situation where the federal government has opted out of its obligations to do so.

An assertion that the constitutional doctrine of preemption, which prohibits states from functioning in areas exclusively reserved for federal action, prohibits Abbott’s order is not only inaccurate, but also raises important questions about what happens when the federal government asserts preemptive authority but then abdicates that authority. Call it dormant overreach.

In her article, Cleveland notes the Biden administration’s Department of Justice argued in federal court that Abbott’s order “violates the Supremacy Clause because it disrupts federal immigration operations in Texas.” Most Texans would find that argument somewhat comical in that, by most accounts, there is virtually no immigration enforcement taking place in Texas, or anywhere else along the United States-Mexico border, for that matter. The Biden administration’s argument is the intellectual equivalent of a pilot steering a plane into the ground while preventing someone from trying to rescue the flight by claiming that only the pilot is authorized to fly the plane.

Cleveland also implies that Texas’s most meaningful — or even only — role here is to highlight the hypocrisy of the Biden administration and eventually win some sort of national conversation. She is correct to say that the Biden administration is engaging in rank hypocrisy by unleashing hundreds of thousands of potentially COVID-19-positive foreign nationals on American soil while pushing for new rights-inhibiting restrictions of American citizens.

Nevertheless, it is inaccurate to say that a state’s job in the face of federal abuse is to win a messaging fight but otherwise stand down and wait for federal rescue. This perspective approaches negligent disregard because it is essentially arguing state and local governments have no role in public safety when our federal government is failing to ensure the public’s safety.

The Biden administration’s damaging conduct is obvious to most Americans, but Texas — and other states — are not bystanders in this war for Americans’ safety, security, and primacy. The Constitution is not a suicide pact. The solutions that lay ahead will require more aggressive assertion of state sovereignty, more aggressive state action to protect their citizens, and a more thorough understanding and appreciation of what our Constitution not only allows, but requires.


Biden’s Border Crisis Is About To Make History

If the current trend continues, this will be a record-breaking year for illegal immigration on the southwest border.

By John Daniel DavidsoThe Federalist

Biden’s Border Crisis Is About To Make History

You would never know it by perusing headlines in the corporate press, but the border crisis is getting worse, not better, as the summer goes on. In fact, it might well turn out to be historic.

Late last week U.S. Customs and Border Protection finally released June border apprehension numbers, which hit a 21-year high with more than 188,000 arrests last month and more than 1.1 million so far this fiscal year.

But that’s not all. Contrary to the usual seasonal rise and fall of illegal immigration, which typically spikes in the spring and then recedes during the hotter summer months, the number of people crossing the border illegally is increasing — as it has been every month since last April.

If this trend continues, we’ll break the decades-old record for southwest border apprehensions, which is more than 1.6 million back in 2000.

Beyond the sheer numbers are the changing demographics of illegal immigration. A growing share of illegal immigrants are now coming from countries other than Mexico or the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

CBP data for June show a sharp and sustained increase in other nationalities crossing the Rio Grande, rising from just 11,909 in February to more than 47,000 in June. Migrants from Nicaragua and other South American countries have increased three-foldsince the beginning of the year, and the number of Haitians and Cubans encountered by Border Patrol is 2.5 times higher than it was in January.

In addition, the number of families and unaccompanied children crossing over continues to rise, last month surpassing the total for June of 2019, during the height of the last border crisis. Indeed, more unaccompanied children have been taken into federal custody so far this year than in all of 2019. The number of single adults taken into custody, still by far the majority of all apprehensions, declined last month for the first time since last April.

Some on the left and in the corporate press like to point out that these figures represent apprehensions, not people, because some of those who are apprehended and expelled are repeat offenders. This has always been the case, but the use of Title 42, a public health measure invoked by former President Trump at the onset of the pandemic last year, allows for the rapid expulsion of some migrants, mostly single adults. Since expulsion under Title 42 carries no criminal penalty (like deportation does), many adult migrants are making multiple attempts to cross even after being arrested more than once.

But even taking these multiple offenders into account, in June there were more than 123,000 “unique individual encounters,” as CBP puts it, meaning these are people who are crossing for the first time. (For perspective, at the height of the 2019 crisis there were 144,00 apprehensions that May.)

Then there’s COVID. Fox News reported this week that COVID cases among illegal immigrants in the Rio Grande Valley — by far the busiest section of the border — are up 900 percent in the first two weeks of July compared to the previous 14 months after 135 detainees tested positive for the virus.

For months now, border officials and nonprofit shelters have worried that COVID infection rates among migrants were higher than the 5 percent figure widely repeated in the press. Testing has been haphazard and inconsistent along the border, but COVID outbreaks in emergency shelters for migrant youth have been ongoing, with infection rates hovering between 15 and 20 percent.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration continues to reduce the number of people being expelled under Title 42. Initially, Biden maintained Trump’s Title 42 authority in order to expel single adults and families out of concern that processing large numbers of people in border facilities would contribute to the spread of COVID-19, while admitting unaccompanied minors (and quickly overwhelming federal facilities).

But now, the Biden administration is releasing the vast majority of families apprehended at the border. Out of 55,000 family units apprehended in June, only 8,000 (about 14 percent) were expelled under Title 42. That’s a drastic drop from January, when 62 percent of all family units were expelled. Although less drastic, the administration is also gradually decreasing the number of single adults it expels under Title 42, from 92 percent in January to 82 percent in June.

Corporate Media Can’t Spin The Numbers

So much for the numbers. What they point to is a border crisis of historic proportions — one that’s unfolding with almost no coverage from a corporate media establishment that wants above all to protect the Biden administration.

Amid this self-imposed media blackout, Republicans in Congress have been trying to draw attention to the crisis as best they can. This week Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and James Comer, R-Ky., released a reportanalyzing the crisis six months into the Biden administration, including a timeline detailing all the Trump-era policies and programs Biden dismantled soon after taking office, as well as subsequent policies enacted by the Biden administration that have further exacerbated the crisis.

Among these are major shifts that largely flew under the radar, like a 62 percent drop in arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement during Biden’s first month in office, which indicates interior immigration enforcement plummeted just as the border was becoming overwhelmed.

The media can continue to ignore what is shaping up to be an historic crisis at the border, but ordinary Americans know something is wrong. According to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, a majority of Americans disapprove of Biden’s handling of the border, and in Texas, which is bearing the brunt of Biden’s immigration policies, another recent poll found that immigration and border security are the top concern of voters in the state.

One reason for this disapproval and concern, despite so little media coverage, is that every month CBP releases its border numbers, and every month for the last six months, those numbers have said the same thing: there’s a crisis on the border, and it’s getting worse.


The Veep From ‘Veep’

Kamala Harris can’t fix her office, much less the border

By Matthew ContinettiThe Washington Free Beacon

Kamala Harris

President Joe Biden has a problem, and her name is Kamala Harris. The vice president has become a comic figure in today’s Washington—a politician given to missteps and unforced errors who inspires neither loyalty nor trust within her inner circle. She might have been Biden’s safest pick for running mate. But now she’s a liability for both the president and the Democratic Party.

It’s not just that Harris is unpopular. Her unique combination of falsity and incompetence generates negative press and endangers her dreams of succeeding Biden. For Harris, the month of June has been an extended replay of highlights from Veep, the HBO comedy starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a clueless and floundering politician on the make. Only Harris isn’t laughing.

Her favorability among registered voters is 7 points underwater in the latest Economist/YouGov survey. Biden’s approval, by contrast, is split even: 48 percent approve, and 48 percent disapprove. More worrisome for Harris is her “very unfavorable” rating. It’s at 40 percent. That’s 3 points higher than Biden’s number—and just 3 points short of Nancy Pelosi’s.

The reason for Harris’s unpopularity is no mystery. It’s her performance. She has a problem following through. She’s fine when working from a script, but she stumbles whenever she must improvise. The classic example came early in the 2020 campaign. Harris attacked Biden during a primary debate for opposing school busing in the 1970s. The moment went viral—and then evaporated. Harris couldn’t rebut Biden’s arguments against Medicare for All. She couldn’t withstand Tulsi Gabbard’s criticism of her record as California’s state attorney general. She didn’t make it past the first week of December 2019.

Last August, when Biden asked her to join the Democratic ticket, Harris took the Hippocratic Oath of running mates: first, do no harm. She lived up to the pledge. She followed the Biden strategy of letting President Donald Trump hog the stage and self-destruct. She made no great mistakes during her debate with Vice President Mike Pence. And she barely made a sound during the presidential transition. The biggest flap concerning Harris was over a Vogue cover shoot that annoyed her Very Online fan base.

It was Biden who set Harris up for a fall. By May, the surge in illegal crossings at the southern border had become impossible to ignore. Biden said the vice president would lead the administration’s response. This was a gargantuan and impossible task. After all, Biden’s reversal of Trump’s immigration policies is behind the increase in illegal immigration. And there’s no way Harris would contradict her boss, even if she wanted to.

Harris immediately distanced herself from her assignment. She recast her mandate as a diplomatic effort to address the “root causes” of migration. (The root cause is simple: America is a better place to live than the Northern Triangle of Central America.) Her evasion was transparent—and Republicans began criticizing her for refusing to visit the border. But the Harris team doubled down, scheduling a trip to Guatemala and Mexico in early June. It was a disaster.

Harris meant to strike a tough tone during her visit to Guatemala City. “Do not come,” she told potential migrants. But her message was undercut: first by Guatemalan president Alejandro Giammattei, who blamed Biden’s “lukewarm” rhetoric for the rise in migration, and then by NBC News anchor Lester Holt, who asked Harris why she was several thousand miles away from the border. A flustered Harris laughed awkwardly and tried to dodge before blurting out, “And I haven’t been to Europe!” Louis-Dreyfus couldn’t have delivered the line any better.

Harris’s inane reply amplified Republican charges that she was avoiding the real issue. By the time she returned from her trip, it was obvious that Harris would visit the border sooner rather than later. The question was when. On June 25, less than a week before Trump was scheduled to visit Texas, Harris hurriedly went to El Paso. The Democratic bastion is far from the Rio Grande valley that has been the busiest site of illegal activity. But Harris managed to get through her day trip without incident. The fallout didn’t arrive until later.

The voyage to El Paso illustrated another Harris vulnerability: She’s a terrible manager. Leaks and infighting bedeviled her short-lived presidential campaign. Working for her is hazardous to your health. Or at least that’s what an anonymous source told Politico on June 30. The blockbuster story, carrying three bylines and based on interviews with 22 “current and former vice-presidential aides, administration officials, and associates of Harris and Biden,” left no doubt that Harris runs a dysfunctional operation. “It’s not a place where people feel supported but a place where people feel treated like s—,” said a “person with direct knowledge of how Harris’s office is run.” Imagine what they say on the office Slack channel.

Biden adviser Anita Dunn told Politico that the situation was “not anywhere near what you are describing.” Perhaps it’s worse. One of Harris’s former Senate aides said, “The boss’s expectations won’t always be predictable.” Not exactly what you want in a leader. Politico says Harris “excels when those around her project calm and order, creating a sense of confidence and certainty.” Unfortunately, confidence and certainty are precisely those qualities that go missing in the ad hoc, improvisational, contingent, and situational world of global politics.

More interviews and stories like these and Harris will soon be living the politician’s worst nightmare: becoming a punchline. A cynic might say that Biden purposely handed Harris the toughest assignments to redirect negative public sentiment away from the Oval Office and to displace the frustrations and embarrassments he experienced during eight years as Barack Obama’s vice president. Democratic strategists worry that Harris exhibits none of Biden’s strengths, such as they are, while shouldering all his weaknesses. That doesn’t bode well if Biden opts not to run in 2024.

Then again, in the third season of Veep, the fictional president steps down. Louis-Dreyfus’s character becomes president. Think Harris is funny now? The joke might be on us.


Immigration: Tragedy & Human Suffering On The U.S. Borders

By George LandrithNewslooks

migrant children

I did something that neither the President or Vice President of the United States are willing to do.  I went to the border in Texas to learn and see with my own eyes what is going on.  And to be blunt, it is far worse than I imagined — for everyone.  The only people profiting from what is currently happening at the border are the human traffickers and drug cartels.  Everyone else — on both sides — is a loser if this situation persists. 

Here’s what I saw with my own eyes and heard with my own ears when I went to Del Rio, Texas — a town of about 35,000 people about 150 miles west of San Antonio along the Rio Grande.  Local law enforcement are overwhelmed and over run.  The local sheriff’s department was never intended to be a border security force.  Their job is to enforce the law within the county, not monitor the border.  They are stretched thin and only have four deputies to spare along almost 120 miles of border. That means one deputy to cover about 30 miles.

But even the US Border Patrol is overwhelmed. They have been put in an impossible position. Border walls are no longer being built. Technology to help border agents has been turned off. So they are left to patrol the border as best they can and even they believe they are only catching between 1/2 and 1/3 of those racing across the border. 
Imagine living in a town of 35,000 people and having four times that many people flooding across the border in the space of only a few months. And that is only a low-ball estimate. Even the Border Patrol agents said that probably double to triple that many are actually crossing the border. But that they cannot count them all because so many evade detection. 

I attended a townhall meeting where locals came to express their concerns. The auditorium was packed and many people were standing along side and back walls. For more than two hours a parade of local citizens — a slight majority of whom appeared to be people of color — came forward to the microphone an in a couple minutes told their experience. Here’s what I learned: 

Dozens and dozens of locals described how illegals had damaged their property, broken-in to their homes, sheds, and cars.  I listened for more than two hours as they described how their families and children are now living in constant danger and fear.

Some of those who spoke were descendants of the original Mexicans who wanted to be free of the despotism of Gen. Santa Anna. Their ancestors defended and died at the Alamo. Others joined Sam Houston’s army that ultimately defeated the Mexican army and won Texas’ independence. Some of the speakers came to America legally in the last decade or so and spoke English with an accent. Not that any of that matters, but the point, is, it was a diverse audience with a diverse background, but they were all united in one thing — the current situation is unbearable and must be fixed. 

They described how difficult it is to make ends meet even in better times — but that when there is a constant stream of trespassers damaging your property, destroying your fences, allowing your livestock to escape, stealing your vehicles, and putting you and your children in fear for their lives and safety, it just isn’t worth it. 

They described vehicles — stolen by human smugglers — driven recklessly and dangerously and colliding with locals — causing serious injuries.  Several speakers referenced a young girl and her father who miraculously survived but suffered life changing injuries  due to a head on collision with a human smuggler driving a stolen car. 

They described having to hide inside their homes as a group of more than a hundred illegals streamed across their property in the dark of night. 

A woman painfully described how her sister — who works as a house keeper at a local hotel which has been used by federal authorities as a place to house illegals before they are sent to other parts of the United States. This woman tearfully told us that her sister was brutally raped on the job.

They all had their own story, but they all expressed a sense of betrayal. And they also had a sense of anger and frustration that when they express their concerns, all too often, they are labeled as haters or intolerant and that they are ignored as if they don’t matter. 

A woman of hispanic descent holding babies and speaking in an accent described how she and her family had come to America legally years ago to have a better life and become an American. She spoke with pride of their home in America and the life that they had built here. But then she asked why she and her family don’t matter, why their rights to freedom and the pursuit of happiness are now irrelevant. 

Even Democrats told us that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and their policies are the primary cause of their problems. In Washington, we are used to partisans covering for their fellow partisans now matter how absurd the defense. But reality has forced this sort of blind partisanship to the side. 

But it isn’t just the locals in Texas who are suffering.  Many of those coming across the border are doing so because they’ve been invited to.  But they, too, have become victims of the human smugglers and drug cartels who make them indentured servants and who threaten with physical harm and death their remaining family who serve as collateral for the cost of being smuggled across the border. These remaining family members live the rest of their lives under constant fear that the cartels and human smugglers will pay them a visit because of a late payment. Simply stated, our current policies are allowing human smugglers and drug cartels to flourish and profit and with those profits, they will not be building hospitals and schools. Instead, they’ll be building armies to expand their human smuggling operations and militarizing the border.

The Biden-Harris administration says it is working on root-causes. But stamping out poverty in central America and around the globe, is not something that will happen this year or even this decade. America has spent literally trillions of dollars in the past generation to stamp out poverty and made little impact. So if they do as well in the rest of the world as they have in the US, 50 years from now, we will still be discussing the root causes of the problem and debating how many more trillions must be spent to fix it. 

But for people on both sides of the border that will be very sad news — a constant flow of crime and fear for generations to come and a perpetual stream of cruel and inhuman treatment from human smugglers and drug cartels. This is what I saw. This is what I heard. It was heart breaking. These are the cruel results of the ill-conceived and poorly thought out policies of the Biden-Harris Administration. False narratives won’t fix the problem. People on both sides of the border need solutions.  And a secure border is where it all starts.


Immigration: Tragedy & Human Suffering On The U.S. Borders

By George LandrithNewslooks

migrant children

I did something that neither the President or Vice President of the United States are willing to do.  I went to the border in Texas to learn and see with my own eyes what is going on.  And to be blunt, it is far worse than I imagined — for everyone.  The only people profiting from what is currently happening at the border are the human traffickers and drug cartels.  Everyone else — on both sides — is a loser if this situation persists. 

Here’s what I saw with my own eyes and heard with my own ears when I went to Del Rio, Texas — a town of about 35,000 people about 150 miles west of San Antonio along the Rio Grande.  Local law enforcement are overwhelmed and over run.  The local sheriff’s department was never intended to be a border security force.  Their job is to enforce the law within the county, not monitor the border.  They are stretched thin and only have four deputies to spare along almost 120 miles of border. That means one deputy to cover about 30 miles.

But even the US Border Patrol is overwhelmed. They have been put in an impossible position. Border walls are no longer being built. Technology to help border agents has been turned off. So they are left to patrol the border as best they can and even they believe they are only catching between 1/2 and 1/3 of those racing across the border. 
Imagine living in a town of 35,000 people and having four times that many people flooding across the border in the space of only a few months. And that is only a low-ball estimate. Even the Border Patrol agents said that probably double to triple that many are actually crossing the border. But that they cannot count them all because so many evade detection. 

I attended a townhall meeting where locals came to express their concerns. The auditorium was packed and many people were standing along side and back walls. For more than two hours a parade of local citizens — a slight majority of whom appeared to be people of color — came forward to the microphone an in a couple minutes told their experience. Here’s what I learned: 

Dozens and dozens of locals described how illegals had damaged their property, broken-in to their homes, sheds, and cars.  I listened for more than two hours as they described how their families and children are now living in constant danger and fear.

Some of those who spoke were descendants of the original Mexicans who wanted to be free of the despotism of Gen. Santa Anna. Their ancestors defended and died at the Alamo. Others joined Sam Houston’s army that ultimately defeated the Mexican army and won Texas’ independence. Some of the speakers came to America legally in the last decade or so and spoke English with an accent. Not that any of that matters, but the point, is, it was a diverse audience with a diverse background, but they were all united in one thing — the current situation is unbearable and must be fixed. 

They described how difficult it is to make ends meet even in better times — but that when there is a constant stream of trespassers damaging your property, destroying your fences, allowing your livestock to escape, stealing your vehicles, and putting you and your children in fear for their lives and safety, it just isn’t worth it. 

They described vehicles — stolen by human smugglers — driven recklessly and dangerously and colliding with locals — causing serious injuries.  Several speakers referenced a young girl and her father who miraculously survived but suffered life changing injuries  due to a head on collision with a human smuggler driving a stolen car. 

They described having to hide inside their homes as a group of more than a hundred illegals streamed across their property in the dark of night. 

A woman painfully described how her sister — who works as a house keeper at a local hotel which has been used by federal authorities as a place to house illegals before they are sent to other parts of the United States. This woman tearfully told us that her sister was brutally raped on the job.

They all had their own story, but they all expressed a sense of betrayal. And they also had a sense of anger and frustration that when they express their concerns, all too often, they are labeled as haters or intolerant and that they are ignored as if they don’t matter. 

A woman of hispanic descent holding babies and speaking in an accent described how she and her family had come to America legally years ago to have a better life and become an American. She spoke with pride of their home in America and the life that they had built here. But then she asked why she and her family don’t matter, why their rights to freedom and the pursuit of happiness are now irrelevant. 

Even Democrats told us that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and their policies are the primary cause of their problems. In Washington, we are used to partisans covering for their fellow partisans now matter how absurd the defense. But reality has forced this sort of blind partisanship to the side. 

But it isn’t just the locals in Texas who are suffering.  Many of those coming across the border are doing so because they’ve been invited to.  But they, too, have become victims of the human smugglers and drug cartels who make them indentured servants and who threaten with physical harm and death their remaining family who serve as collateral for the cost of being smuggled across the border. These remaining family members live the rest of their lives under constant fear that the cartels and human smugglers will pay them a visit because of a late payment. Simply stated, our current policies are allowing human smugglers and drug cartels to flourish and profit and with those profits, they will not be building hospitals and schools. Instead, they’ll be building armies to expand their human smuggling operations and militarizing the border.

The Biden-Harris administration says it is working on root-causes. But stamping out poverty in central America and around the globe, is not something that will happen this year or even this decade. America has spent literally trillions of dollars in the past generation to stamp out poverty and made little impact. So if they do as well in the rest of the world as they have in the US, 50 years from now, we will still be discussing the root causes of the problem and debating how many more trillions must be spent to fix it. 

But for people on both sides of the border that will be very sad news — a constant flow of crime and fear for generations to come and a perpetual stream of cruel and inhuman treatment from human smugglers and drug cartels. This is what I saw. This is what I heard. It was heart breaking. These are the cruel results of the ill-conceived and poorly thought out policies of the Biden-Harris Administration. False narratives won’t fix the problem. People on both sides of the border need solutions.  And a secure border is where it all starts.


The Biden-Harris Migration ‘Fix’ Would Throw Good Billions After Bad

While migrants from Central America stream to the U.S. border, any positive effects of Biden’s 'root-cause' strategy will be slow and incremental at best.

By Vince BielskiThe Federalist

The Biden-Harris Migration ‘Fix’ Would Throw Good Billions After Bad

The journey of Central American migrants to the U.S. border — a perilous trip across thousands of miles of mountains and deserts — starts in places like the dry corridor in western Honduras.

Many of the region’s 1 million small farmers still live in adobe huts with no running water and suffer acts of humans and nature. Corrupt Honduran officials have invested too little in stabilizing or modernizing the region, allowing violent gangs to extort families. Recent droughts and hurricanes have created widespread hunger.

“It’s been one crisis after another,” says Conor Walsh, the Honduras representative for Catholic Relief Services in Tegucigalpa, the capital. “Many people have already migrated and others are evaluating whether they can stay on their farms.”

These longstanding problems throughout Central America are driving the current crisis on the southern U.S. border, where more than 170,000 migrants arrived in March in search of jobs and asylum. As the Biden administration grapples with this mounting surge, it’s also proposing a $4 billion long-term plan to attack the root causes of migration — corruption, violence, and poverty in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

The initiative is as ambitious as it is familiar. Presidents as far back as John F. Kennedy have pursued similar aims only to come up short. Joe Biden himself ran the troubled Central America initiative during the Obama administration. It encountered the same obstacles that have stymied past U.S. efforts — governmental leaders and business elites who resist good governance and anti-corruption reforms to protect their own interests, according to a study by the Wilson Center, a policy research group in Washington.

‘You Have to Create a System of Accountability’

Consider Honduras, a showcase of government criminality. President Juan Orlando Hernandez’s election in 2017 was tainted by fraud. He is now under investigation by U.S. prosecutors who have brought a string of cocaine smuggling cases against prominent Hondurans. Members of the National Congress in Tegucigalpa have a habit of embezzlement, thereby robbing citizens of funding for health care, education, and jobs.

Nonetheless, U.S.-funded programs have struggled to make a difference in a nation in which government is a big part of the problem. Catholic Relief Services, for one, has helped boost the corn and bean yields and income of thousands of subsistence farmers in the Honduran dry corridor, offering a glimmer of hope. But a lack of roads, electricity, and credit for farmers means that only a sliver of them benefit from the technical aid. As a result, an unprecedented 47 percent of families in the dry corridor that stretches across Central America are moderately to severely food-deprived, according to an alarming 2017 United Nations study.United Nations World Food Program.

Now comes Biden’s crack at the region. He’s tweaking the U.S. aid playbook in hopes of a better outcome. The administration says fighting corruption is now the top priority since nothing will change until elected officials stop stealing and the governments become more accountable to citizens. Countries will have to meet stricter conditions, such as adopting governance reforms, before receiving aid, and officials face the threat of financial sanctions and revoked visas. The proposed $4 billion strategy, the biggest ever for the region, gives the administration some added leverage.

Vice President Kamala Harris heads the strategy team, which includes White House aide Juan Gonzalez and Ricardo Zuniga, the special envoy to the region. Zuniga was born in Honduras and both men worked on Western Hemispheric affairs in the Obama White House. In March, they traveled to the region and had “very frank discussions” with leaders about transparency, good governance, and anti-corruption, said one administration official.

The Treasury Department followed up those talks with sanctions in late April against Felipe Alejos Lorenzana, a Guatemalan Congressman, and Gustavo Adolfo Alejos Cambara, a former official. They reportedly facilitated payments to lawmakers and judges to try to interfere with the appointment of magistrates and protect against corruption prosecutions, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

“You have to create a system of accountability that goes after the very corrupt elements within these governments,” added Steven Dudley, co-founder of InSight Crime, which investigates organized crime in Latin America. “The people Biden put in place have the experience and ideas, but the bridge between that and actually doing something is long.”

Failures of the Past

The get-tough diplomacy is already hitting resistance. In early April, Zuniga visited El Salvador to press the case against corruption. But President Nayib Bukele, miffed over criticism from a State Department official about his commitment to the rule of law, refused to meet with the envoy.

The snub would be familiar to a long line of presidents who have stumbled in the region. Since 1960 administrations have strategically deployed about $24 billion in foreign aid to Central America and the Caribbean.

During the Cold War years, aid was meant to reduce poverty to build support against leftist movements in El Salvador and its neighbors. It didn’t work. When the decades-long civil wars in the region finally ended in the 1990s, peace did usher in a long stretch of economic growth and declining poverty rates. In the ensuing decade, as drug trafficking and gang violence soared, the George W. Bush administration took its turn in Central America. It sent assistance to combat crime. But the programs lacked coordination and had a limited impact, according to another Wilson Center report.

The Obama administration had bigger ambitions. It expanded on Bush’s security initiative by adding governance and economic programs. The $2.4 billion “strategy for engagement” for El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras began in 2014 and included 370 projects to make local officials more accountable, reduce crime and create jobs. In an op-ed supporting the strategy, Vice President Biden praised the nations’ commitment to reform and even met with President Hernandez at the White House in 2015 — an endorsement that proved too bullish.

After five years, the Government Accounting Office was blunt in its assessment of the projects that were mostly run by the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Those reviewed by GAO achieved only 40 percent to 70 percent of their own technical targets, such as the number of police officers trained. Officials didn’t even bother to evaluate most of the projects or whether they helped improve governance, security, and economic opportunity.

When the biggest wave of migrants in more than a decade hit the U.S. border in 2019, the Trump administration pulled the plug on the Obama root cause strategy. USAID, now run by Samantha Power, a former envoy to the U.N. under President Obama, didn’t provide a spokesperson to comment for this story despite several requests.

Honduras: Corruption Juggernaut

Biden, who now has a second chance to get it right, faces his biggest test in Honduras. Its economy, which was once dominated by exports of coffee and bananas to the United States, has produced a number of ultra-wealthy clans resistant to the idea of cleaning up corruption.

Miguel Facusse, whose nephew served as president of Honduras, became rich from palm oil production and consumer products. But his legacy is tainted by accusations from human rights investigations that his security forces were involved in deadly clashes with small farmers over their claim to land in the region where his plantations operate.

As the economy became more service-oriented, former Vice President Jaime Rosenthal made a family fortune estimated in 2015 at $690 million from banking, telecommunications, and other businesses. But before his death two years ago, Rosenthal was indicted by U.S. prosecutors for participating in a money-laundering scheme with Honduran drug traffickers.

Honduras emerged as a cocaine transshipment point between South America and the United States a few decades ago. The 2009 coup in Honduras that ousted President Manuel Zelaya opened the door to more trafficking. Zelaya, a Liberal Party politician, had raised the minimum wage by 60 percent and defended the land rights of small farmers. Even more worrisome to business leaders like Facusse was that Zelaya had become cozy with leftist despots in the region and pushed to amend the constitution in an apparent attempt to extend his own presidency.

Zelaya’s ouster by the military led to a period of internal tumult, forcing the National Police to focus on restoring order, often violently cracking down on protesters. By 2015, 90 percent of cocaine coming to the United States passed through Central America, with Honduras as the major hub. More recently Hondurans have developed labs to produce cocaine, extending its tentacles in the economy, according to a report by InSight Crime.

Harnessing the Experience of Nonprofit Groups

Today, President Hernandez tops a list of Honduran politicians, military, and police officers who are under investigation or have been convicted of operating what seems like a state-sponsored drug cartel, according to the U.S. prosecutors. They say in 2013 Hernandez, who was then in Congress and campaigning for the presidency, got access to millions of dollars in cocaine from a murderous trafficker. In return, the politician allegedly told the trafficker, who was convicted in a U.S. court in March, that the military and attorney general would protect his operation. The president has repeatedly denied any involvement in trafficking.

The president’s brother, former congressman Tony Hernandez, was involved in every aspect of the cocaine trade. The end game was political power. He funneled millions of dollars in profits into National Party campaigns for three presidential elections, including the two his brother won in 2013 and 2017, prosecutors say. Tony Hernandez was handed a life prison sentence in March.

The Biden administration points to the silver linings in the dark clouds of the region’s recent history. In the last five years, an effort to root out political corruption made remarkable progress before it was quashed. In 2016, large street demonstrations over the looting of at least $300 million from the public health care system — a small amount of which found its way into Hernandez’s first presidential campaign — forced the president to set up an anti-corruption commission in partnership with the Organization of American States. The United States embraced the move with funding and political support.

The commission’s quasi-independence — it was led by Peruvian prosecutor Ana Maria Calderon Boy and others from outside Honduras — keyed its initial success. The commission set up a new unit of vetted prosecutors within the national government. It went on to reveal an embezzlement scam that later allegedly implicated more than 350 politicians, including President Hernandez, according to the Wilson report. Amid the scandal, he essentially disbanded the commission last year — a decision that brought condemnation from a bipartisan group of U.S. House leaders.

The Biden administration now aims to set up a new anti-corruption group as its main weapon. This time even more independence will be crucial if it’s to work. Zuniga, the special envoy, had discussions with nonprofits in Central America that want to form a U.S.-backed civil society commission. It would draw on the expertise of these groups in exposing corruption and operate outside the reach of national governments to shut it down. But local prosecutors would still have to pursue the cases.

“Instead of creating another commission that the governments can kick out, the United States can support nonprofits that have years of experience doing this work,” says Kurt Ver Beek, co-founder of the Association for a More Just Society in Honduras, who joined the talks with Zuniga. “We will make the corruption cases public and, along with the United States, pressure the governments to bring charges.”

Purging the Police

The U.S.-backed effort to reform the National Police also got off to a promising start five years ago. The police served as a tool for cocaine smugglers, who easily exploited lowly paid officers with payoffs for dirty work. “Officers hijacked cars from citizens, dealt drugs for gangs, and lent out their services as hitmen,” according to a 2016 report by Ver Beek’s ASJ, the Christian nonprofit, which received funding from the State Department.

The revelation in 2016 that top police officials organized the assassination of Honduran’s anti-drug czar finally forced President Hernandez and Congress to set up another commission. Two ASJ leaders joined the group, which moved quickly to purge a remarkable 5,000 tainted and inexperienced beat cops and top officials — including six generals — equaling a third of the entire force.

The purge was a watershed moment showing that Hondurans could topple a fortress of criminality. But four years later drug smugglers are beginning to penetrate the police again, forcing good officers to choose whether to take a bribe or a bullet. “Traffickers tell cops, ‘I’ll kill you if you don’t help me, or take a bunch of money,’” says Ver Beek, a Cornell University-trained sociologist. “So they take the money.”

American agencies funded other projects such as community policing to reduce crime in Honduras, which a decade ago had the highest murder rate in the world. In her congressional confirmation hearing, Power, Biden’s new USAID administrator, pointed to the agency’s record of crime-fighting in the country as a bright spot to build on. “In districts where USAID had programming aimed at curbing violence, there was a drop in homicide rates,” she told senators in March. “That is encouraging.”

However, extortion of businesses by criminal gangs — a major driver of migration — may be getting worse. Gang members approach small businesses, such as barbers, food merchants and taxi drivers, and demand a small monthly payment that keeps going up until the owner can no longer pay it and flees. Hondurans refer to extortion as a “war tax,” which victimizes as many as half of all small businesses, Ver Beek estimates.

Struggling to Create Jobs

While officials pilfer public funds and gangs drive businesses to close, it’s no wonder that half of the Honduran population remains almost locked in poverty. The high rate hasn’t improved much over the last decade and is twice the level of neighboring El Salvador. As the Obama administration learned, foreign aid alone can’t do much to help kids escape this poverty trap.

USAID’s Future Employment program had ambitions in 2016 to train 7,500 at-risk youth in Honduras and place half of them in jobs to lure them away from gangs. The program struggled to find enough recruits in tough neighborhoods and enough employers willing to take a chance and hire them. Then the Trump administration cut off funding for projects across the three countries. By the end of 2019, fewer than 1,000 participants had found some employment, mostly in retail, in the year following training, according to a USAID evaluation.

While they certainly benefited from a job in the short term, their prospects of upward mobility are dim without more support from the Honduran government. For instance, the country has a federal minimum wage law that’s set above the poverty line and could help close the inequality gap. But almost half of employers ignore it and the government does little to enforce it, academic studies show.

“We have not produced the same kind of results that I’ve pointed to when it comes to physical security and crime,” Power said of USAID’s economic programs. “Hopefully we can begin to make a dent.”

Power could start by changing the way her agency runs projects in places like Honduras, nonprofit veterans believe. Aid experts have criticized the agency for hiring U.S. and international contractors to administer most of the program funding. The setup marginalizes local organizations that better understand on-the-ground issues and misses an opportunity to develop local advocates to push for reforms, says Sarah Bermeo, who specializes in foreign aid in Central America at Duke University.

“U.S. contractors are certainly overused compared to their ability to deliver results,” Bermeo says. “There is certainly room to improve outcomes by increasing the involvement of local groups in the design and implementation of AID-financed efforts.”

Meanwhile, migrants from Central America are streaming to the U.S. border. The increase that began a year ago has accelerated under Biden, threatening to top 1 million this year, the highest total in more than a decade. Biden’s root-cause strategy won’t change anything at the border in the short run. Advocates say progress will be incremental at best and measured in decades, not years.

“It’s going to be difficult but not impossible for the administration,” says Ariel Ruiz Soto, an analyst at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington. “The U.S. investment has to occur over decades for there to be a real change.”


Government Stats Don’t Lie: Biden Is Getting It Wrong across the Board

By Jim GeraghtyNational Review

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the April jobs report from the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., May 7, 2021.  (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Today is one hell of a hump day already: New government figures show that the Biden administration is getting it wrong on the border, getting it wrong on the economy and job creation, and getting it wrong on inflation.

No, Mr. President, This Is Not the Usual Seasonal Migration

I told you, back on April 19, that this month’s immigration numbers were going to be high, and represent a blinking red light. On May 4, I reminded Jen Rubin that no, nothing “happened” to the border crisis, the media just stopped discussing it. On Monday, I pointed out that the federal government’s official statistics were undermining Biden’s argument that what Americans were seeing on the border was just a routine seasonal pattern.

“The truth of the matter is, nothing has changed,” President Biden insisted in his press conference on March 25. “It happens every single, solitary year: There is a significant increase in the number of people coming to the border in the winter months of January, February, March. That happens every year.”

I’m sorry, Mr. President, but that is a load of bull. It is not a regular seasonal pattern to break a two-decade-old record two months in a rowIn the month of April, U.S. Customs and Border Protection caught 178,622 individuals attempting to cross the U.S.–Mexico border, one month after they had caught an eye-popping 173,348 individuals.

The Biden administration is going to try to take a victory lap over the fact that the number of unaccompanied minors dropped from 159 in March to 134 in April. (That’s what NBC News chose to spotlight in this headline.)

(Over at the Center for Immigration Studies, Andrew Arthur wondered why it took until May 11 to release the numbers for April. No doubt it takes time to check and collate all of the data, and as of now, there’s no indication of any deliberate delay from CBP. But any time that new information that makes the administration look bad takes a while to get released, some people will fairly wonder if someone in the chain of command was dragging his feet.)

On April 30, when asked about March’s numbers, Biden insisted in an interview with NBC News, “Look, it’s way down now. We’ve now gotten control.” But the April numbers are not way down; they’re up a bit over the previous month’s record. At the time of that interview, did Biden genuinely believe that CBP encounters at the border had dramatically declined? (The other day a commenter on our site had a good observation: Biden’s usual reflexive denial of making a mistake and his habitual fuzziness with the facts make it very tough to tell when he’s lying, when he’s misinformed, and when he’s having any memory issues.)

Biden told NBC News that he “inherited a Godawful mess” from Trump at the border, but in January, CBP had only 78,443 encounters at the southern border. The first big jump came in February when it rose to 101,120, and then it continued rising into March. Hey, what happened in late January?

These are cold, hard numbers which prove that Biden’s assessment of the situation in late March was completely wrong. Whether or not Biden wanted to tell Central America that the border is open, his first moves on immigration — halting construction of border fencing, new guidelines to ICE agents to sharply curb arrests and deportations, an attempted moratorium on deportations, proposing a path to citizenship — all sent a signal to migrants and human traffickers that the door was wide open and everyone was welcome.

Recall this anecdote at the border, reported in the New York Times in mid March:

Jenny Contreras, a 19-year-old Guatemalan mother of a 3-year-old girl, collapsed in a seat as Mr. Valenzuela handed out hand sanitizer.

“I did not make it,” she sobbed into the phone as she spoke with her husband, a butcher in Chicago.

“Biden promised us!” wailed another woman.

Many of the migrants said they had spent their life savings and gone into debt to pay coyotes — human smugglers — who had falsely promised them that the border was open after President Biden’s election. [Emphasis added]

There is only one way that people in the poorest and most isolated communities in Central America will disbelieve the false promises of human smugglers and coyotes and understand that the border is not open. It requires the U.S. president to send a clear signal, loudly, frequently, and publicly, that U.S. immigration laws are still enforced, and that those caught crossing the border illegally will be criminally charged and quickly deported. I suspect that deep down, Biden and many other Democrats think those actions are inherently mean and unjust. This is why half the Democratic presidential field supported a repeal of the criminal statute for entering the country without permission. Additionally, almost all Democrats believe illegal immigrants should be covered by a government-run health-care plan, and they’re iffy at best on the use of E-Verify.

Many Biden supporters will insist that a continuing wave of migrants wasn’t the intended consequence of his early actions on immigration, and many Biden foes will insist this was precisely the intended consequence of his early actions on immigration. But that argument is almost moot; the waves of migrants are coming — and still coming.

Usually, a Record Number of Job Openings Would Be Good News

Yesterday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the number of job openings across the country had reached 8.1 million, the highest that the agency had ever recorded.

On Monday, President Biden said, “Families — families who are just trying to put food on the table, keep a roof over their head — they aren’t the problem. We need to stay focused on the real problems in front of us: beating this pandemic and creating jobs.”

But the BLS numbers show we’re already doing pretty darn well at creating jobs, or at least creating job openings. An economy in which there are a record number of job openings is not one that is sluggish, or struggling, or that desperately needs another round of stimulus spending. What it needs are the currently nonworking job applicants to walk through the door. Right now, in Massachusetts, the maximum weekly unemployment-benefit amount is $855 per week. In a 40-hour work week, that comes out to $21.37 per hour.

Meanwhile, Prices Keep Going Up . . .

The updated unfilled-jobs numbers released Tuesday morning were bad. The updated immigration numbers released Tuesday evening were bad. Guess how the updated inflation numbers released Wednesday morning look?

How about “an absolute disaster”?

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.8 percent in April on a seasonally adjusted basis after rising 0.6 percent in March, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 4.2 percent before seasonal adjustment. This is the largest 12-month increase since a 4.9-percent increase for the period ending September 2008.

The index for used cars and trucks rose 10.0 percent in April. This was the largest 1-month increase since the series began in 1953, and it accounted for over a third of the seasonally adjusted all items increase. The food index increased in April, rising 0.4 percent as the indexes for food at home and food away from home both increased. The energy index decreased slightly, as a decline in the index for gasoline in April more than offset increases in the indexes for electricity and natural gas.

The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.9 percent in April, its largest monthly increase since April 1982. Nearly all major component indexes increased in April. Along with the index for used cars and trucks, the indexes for shelter, airline fares, recreation, motor vehicle insurance, and household furnishings and operations were among the indexes with a large impact on the overall increase.

The all-items index rose 4.2 percent for the 12 months ending April, a larger increase than the 2.6- percent increase for the period ending March.

In other news: Jennifer Granholm, during a press conference yesterday about the hack of the Colonial Pipeline, said, “We have doubled down on ensuring that there’s an ability to truck oil in — gas in. But it’s — the pipe is the best way to go. And so that’s why, hopefully, this company, Colonial, will, in fact, be able to restore operations by the end of the week as they have said.”

Oh, pipe is the best way to go, huh? Safer, more secure, more efficient, less risk of accidents? Then maybe this administration shouldn’t be canceling pipeline projects!


No End To Biden’s Border Crisis In Sight As Crossings, Apprehensions Skyrocket

By Jordan DavidsonThe Federalist

No End To Biden’s Border Crisis In Sight As Crossings, Apprehensions Skyrocket
Photo CBP Flickr/Photo

U.S. Customs and Border Protection apprehended or turned away more than 178,600 people at the U.S.-Mexico border last month, marking what continues to be a growing border crisis.

The last time monthly border apprehensions exceeded this total was in April 2001, the all-time record year for illegal immigration with more than 1.6 million arrests. Unlike now, Border Patrol custody numbers back then were trending downward from March 2001, with more than 220,000 arrests.

Of those illegal aliens taken into custody in April this year, more than 111,000 were single adults not seeking asylum and who were subject to expulsion under Title 42. More single adults have been apprehended so far this year than the total number of families that were apprehended in all of 2019 during the last border crisis.

The Biden administration repeatedly denies there’s a border crisis and often blames the influx on former President Donald Trump and normal seasonal surges, but in April last year, border officials caught just over 17,000 illegal aliens at the southern border, the same number of unaccompanied minors who crossed last month.

“Until this administration applies a consequence for coming here illegally, these numbers are going to remain at crisis levels,” former acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf said in a statement. “Make no mistake: this is not just a humanitarian crisis on our border — it is a security crisis that is giving drug cartels and human smugglers a historic opportunity to expand their operations in the Western Hemisphere.”

While the average amount of time migrant children spent in custody fell from 115 hours in March to 28 hours in April, drug seizures keep climbing. Overall, Customs and Border Protection saw a 6 percent increase from March to April. Of those drugs being smuggled across the border by cartels, seizures of heroin increased 97 percent and seizures of fentanyl increased 34 percent, already passing the total numbers from the 2020 fiscal year. As noted by The Federalist’s John Daniel Davidson, the effects of these drugs extend far beyond the border crisis.

Experts estimate the volume of drugs confiscated at the border generally represents maybe 10 or 15 percent of total production. That amount of fentanyl — thousands of pounds — coming over the border has deadly consequences once it reaches U.S. cities and towns. Last year, a record number of Americans (some 90,000, possibly more) died of drug overdose. The increase in overdose deaths from 2019 to 2020, researchers say, was driven by synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Fatal fentanyl overdoses spiked during the pandemic last spring, claiming more than 6,000 lives in May 2020 alone, and as the year went on they never dropped back down to pre-pandemic levels.


Biden Trips on the Border

The one issue where the White House plays defense

By Matthew ContinettiThe Washington Free Beacon

Getty Images

The pickings are slim for Republicans in Joe Biden’s Washington. For the past few months, the president has maintained a job approval rating in the mid- to low-50s. He has a net positive rating in the double digits. He gets good marks for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, for his distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines, and for his (misguided) decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan. The American Rescue Plan is extremely popular, and the American Jobs Plan polls well. The rules of the House and budget reconciliation in the Senate mean that Republicans are powerless to stop major economic legislation from becoming law. Meanwhile, the conservative grassroots are more interested in election integrity and identity politics than in policy. GOP officials are frustrated. “It’s always harder to fight against a nice person because usually people will sort of give him the benefit of the doubt,” Senator John Cornyn (R., Texas) told The Hill recently.

There’s one issue, however, where the public has doubts. It’s the border. The surge in illegal immigration throughout his first 100 days in office has left Biden vulnerable to Republican criticisms and worried about the political implications. The crisis has exposed as false the idea that this administration is staffed with an “A-Team” of “hyper-competent” technocrats able to manage anything that comes their way. Leaks to the news media reveal an administration playing an internal blame game. The typically unflappable Jen Psaki has been caught up in spats with the White House press corps. The upshot is that Biden’s missteps have given the GOP an opportunity to unite around border security and tight labor markets.

The public doesn’t like the results of Biden’s asylum policies. Just 24 percent of adults in a late March AP-NORC pollapproved of Biden’s handling of the border surge. Last week’s Quinnipiac poll showed 29 percent approval. A Morning Consult survey conducted at the end of last month found that a majority of registered voters blamed Biden, not “seasonal migration,” for the spike in illegal entries. Participants in the Engagious/Schlesinger swing-voter focus group doubted that Biden’s emphasis on diplomacy and humanitarian aid would reduce the pressure on the border. “Swing voter support for Biden’s border policies is like sand falling through an hourglass,” Engagious president Rich Thau saidto Axios.

And Biden’s response isn’t helping. He put Vice President Kamala Harris in charge of efforts to solve the problem, but Harris recognized the political peril involved and quickly made it clear that she would be engaged in diplomacy rather than emergency response. Harris will meet virtually with the president of Guatemala on April 26, two days after her in-person visit to New Hampshire. The southern border has yet to appear on her schedule.

With Harris burnishing her foreign policy credentials, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra has been left to coordinate the administration’s efforts. One reason Republicans unanimously opposed Becerra’s confirmation was that he’s a lawmaker and activist in a job best suited for bureaucrats and wonks. They had a point. The press routinely depicts Biden as unhappy with Becerra and “frustrated” at his inability to house, care for, and resettle unaccompanied minors safely and swiftly. What did Biden expect? The moment demands a figure with the logistical brilliance of Dwight Eisenhower and the moral core of Albert Schweitzer. That description doesn’t exactly fit Becerra, who is best known for suing nuns.

Nor is the anti-Becerra leak campaign the only piece of evidence that the White House fears an immigration backlash. Last week, in the space of several hours, Biden flip-flopped on refugee admissions. First came the announcement that, contrary to his campaign pledge, Biden would not raise the cap on refugees. Democrats and progressives slammed the move as inhumane and illiberal. Then the White House, always keeping an eye on its left flank, said it would increase the number of refugees after all. Press secretary Jen Psaki blamed the confusion on “messaging.” She was right—the White House had two different messages in one afternoon. A week later Psaki was still trying to explain the discrepancy.

It turns out that Biden didn’t want to draw further attention to immigration by admitting more refugees during the border crisis. His political instincts may have been sound—but he wasn’t willing to test those instincts against criticism from his own side. The White House can’t even admit that what’s happening on the border is a crisis. When Biden toldreporters, “The problem was that the refugee part was working on the crisis that ended up on the border with young people, and we couldn’t do two things at once,” Psaki and other administration officials said he was referring to the “crisis” in Central America that is supposedly forcing migrants to seek a better future in the United States. Please.

Biden spoke the truth: There is a crisis on the border. What he can’t accept, however, is that his policies are responsible for it—and are making his political difficulties worse. And so he’s handed Republicans a powerful issue in an otherwise bleak environment. Now they have to use it.


ICE Gave $87 Million To A Former Biden Official’s Nonprofit To Oversee Border Crisis Housing

By Jordan DavidsonThe Federalist

ICE Gave $87 Million To A Former Biden Official’s Nonprofit To Oversee Border Crisis Housing
Photo USCBP Flickr/Photo

President Joe Biden’s administration overlooked certain contenders in a contract bidding process to pay an organization run by a former Biden-Harris transition leader more than $87 million to place illegal migrant families 1,200 hotel beds in Arizona and Texas, according to the Washington Examiner.

While contracts from the federal government are usually bid on by various organizations, multiple sources, and data reported by the Examiner indicated that Family Endeavors, run by former Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer and the senior official who evaluated Biden’s picks for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Andrew Lorenzen-Strait, outright won the contract without any competitors.

“Information obtained through the Federal Procurement Data System indicates that ICE never opened the contract to outside companies and organizations but went with an internal candidate who had significant insider connections,” the Examiner reported.

Family Endeavors had contracted with the federal government on smaller projects before, such as working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Federal Acquisition Service. Most of these contracts, the Examiner noted, however, were less than $1.5 million apiece, making the new $87 million contract “more than double the money it took in last year.”

Despite the Family Endeavors’ lack of experience as an ICE contractor, the immigration agency wrote off the breach of federal contract law benefitting the nonprofit as an “unusual and compelling urgency” that provided “short term” solutions to the influx of migrants in HHS’s care.

Lorenzen-Strait reportedly entered the contract just two months after he left the Biden campaign to join Family Endeavors as its senior director for migrant services and federal affairs. Before that, he worked under the now-director of ICE Tae Johnson to manage border detention facilities. According to the Examiner, Johnson “would have the final say on the $87 million contract.”


A Man-Made Disaster at the Border

Biden’s actions speak louder than his mixed messages to migrants

By Matthew ContinettiThe Washington Free Beacon

Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) and other Republicans at the border (KFOX)

On March 14, the day that Kevin McCarthy and 12 House Republicans went to Texas to visit the southern border, the El Paso Central Processing Center for migrants reached capacity. The Republicans heard heartbreaking stories of unaccompanied children, some less than six years old, crossing the border while holding hands. Border agents informed the congressmen that fentanyl traffickers are exploiting the surge in illegal immigration. One agent told John Katko, ranking member on the Homeland Security Committee, that a few of the apprehended migrants appear on the terrorist watch list. Border and immigration personnel are stretched thin. “They’ve never seen anything like this,” McCarthy told me.

Indeed, Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas projects that the United States faces its largest surge in illegal immigration in two decades. He’s ordered FEMAto assist in taking care of the hundreds of unaccompanied minors who show up daily asking for asylum. Mayorkas and President Joe Biden insist that the previous administration is responsible for a crisis that emerged weeks after Donald Trump left the White House. They couldn’t be more wrong.

What’s happening on the southern border is the most preventable emergency in years. And Joe Biden created it. No matter how often he tells asylum seekers that now is not the time to enter the United States, migrants won’t listen. That’s because the policies he put into place incentivize the dangerous trek. At the same time, Biden has handed the Republicans an issue that will remain long after the $1,400 checks in the American Rescue Plan have been forgotten. And it hasn’t been 60 days since he took office.

Biden’s contradictory messaging won’t relieve the pressure on the border. Sure, he told George Stephanopoulos that his message to migrants is, “Don’t leave your town or city or community.” Mayorkas echoed this sentiment in an interview with CBS. But then he added, “If they do, we will not expel that young child.” That includes tens of thousands of teenagers who may be looking for jobs rather than fleeing persecution.

So the White House says stay put, but if you don’t and border patrol apprehends you, you’ll be housed, clothed, fed, and released if you are under 18. And by the way, we’re laying the groundwork for providing legal status and a path to citizenship for the millions of illegal immigrants already here. That’s not a stop light to border crossers. It’s a yellow light: Proceed with caution.

What did Biden expect? True, he’s maintained a Trump-era rule that allows for the swift removal of adults because of the coronavirus. But he exempted minors from the regulation, creating a massive loophole. And he’s torn up just about everything else that Trump did.

Rich Lowry has documented the rapid undoing of Trump’s successes. The most significant changes were ending the Migrant Protection Protocols—the so-called Remain in Mexico plan that kept asylum-seekers in Mexico while their claims were reviewed—and canceling the “safe-third-country” agreements that required migrants to apply for asylum in the first nation they entered on their way to the United States.

Then there’s the attitudinal difference between the two presidents. Whatever else can be said about Trump, his position on illegal immigration was no mystery. Biden, of course, wants to repudiate every aspect of the Trump presidency, especially its approach to immigration. His demeanor and actions send a dramatic signal that America will be more welcoming.

Even if he says otherwise. Kevin McCarthy, for example, recounted his time at an incomplete section of the border wall. Construction workers had only 17 miles left to finish—but were told to put down their tools as of midnight on January 20. Meanwhile the fence around the U.S. Capitol, complete with razor-wire, still stands. Biden’s position on the two walls delivers a message to both migrants and citizens. But it’s not a consistent message. Nor is it a republican one.

The border calamity is the starkest contrast of the transition from Trump to Biden. It’s also a weak spot for an otherwise popular president. A recent Ipsos poll has immigration tied with health care as the third most important issue in the country. The Engagious/Schlesinger focus group of Trump-Biden swing voters expressed reservations about the current approach to the border. And last week’s CBS News poll showed that Biden is vulnerable: Just 52 percent approved of his handling of immigration, versus 67 percent support on the coronavirus, 69 percent on the vaccine, and 60 percent on the economy.

McCarthy downplays the partisan angle. But there’s no denying Republicans sense a political opportunity. House Republicans went on the offensive when Mayorkas testified before Congress Wednesday. Next week, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn will head to the border. Biden was helped by the absence of immigration from last year’s campaign. It allowed him to focus on the pandemic, the economy, and Trump’s personality. But now, on this subject at least, his luck has run out. And he has only himself to blame.


Immigration: Getting It Right

By Richard A. EpsteinHoover Institution

Earlier this year, the Biden administration issued a “Fact Sheet” on his proposed US Citizenship Act, a comprehensive plan to expand pathways to citizenship and otherwise modernize and liberalize this nation’s immigration system. It is very difficult to draw categorical conclusions about the many facets of immigration law. The passion on both sides of this issue suggests that finding a sensible middle position may be impossible. Even so, a measured and compromising approach is the best way forward on immigration reform, with its complex highways and byways.

One way to think about immigration reform is to compare the case for free and open immigration with the parallel case for free trade. Fierce opposition to free trade in part propelled Donald Trump to his 2016 presidential victory. Free trade did not take a central role in the 2020 election, in large part because candidate Biden offered a similar sentiment to bolster trade union support. This was not merely campaign talk. President Biden recently issued a protective “Buy American” statement, the objective of which is “to support manufacturers, businesses, and workers to ensure that our future is made in all of America by all of America’s workers.” A Biden executive order from January seeks to “use terms and conditions of federal financial assistance awards and federal procurements to maximize the use of goods, products, and materials produced in, and services offered in, the United States.”

But the effort to turn the United States inward on matters of economic activity will force superior foreign products to be substituted with inferior domestic ones, making domestic production less efficient. These inefficiencies will have far-reaching consequences: raising prices and lowering wages across the board, weakening American exports, and inducing other nations to take retaliatory measures, which will further contract world trade. Hopefully, the world economy can avoid a repeat of the implosion of international trade that followed the passage of the 1930 Smoot-Hawley tariff. But the political risk still remains.

Face the Challenges

The issue of free immigration is vastly more complex than the problem of free trade. As a general matter, no one thinks that the United States and other nations lack the power to exclude foreign individuals from entering and residing in their countries. But, as with free trade, there is a fierce debate over how that power to exclude should be exercised, leading to a series of difficult and hotly contended questions. Do we reunite families, when some members are abroad and others are in the United States? Do we allow entry into the United States for political refugees who have suffered under oppressive regimes? Do we reserve spots for individuals who bring special skills and talents to the United States? Do we make special allowances for “dreamers” who came illegally into the United States at a young age and have nowhere else to call home?

In all these cases, it is possible to offer a sympathetic justification for expanding the number of immigrants allowed to enter the United States. Indeed, American policy on immigration since the 1960s has become increasingly liberalized on exactly such grounds. Thus the percentage of foreign-born individuals in the United States has nearly tripled from about 4.8 percent in 1970 to 13.7 percent in 2018. The basic policy that lets individuals into the country is complemented by a back-end system of deportation of individuals who have entered under false pretenses, have given material support to terrorist actions in their own country, or who have committed serious crimes after their arrival to the United States.

Beyond the serious administrative difficulties of the current immigration system, it may be harder to support free immigration than free trade. Free trade is largely an economic story, with massive efficiency gains that can be spread broadly to offset much of the displacement it generates. Immigration, on the other hand, brings new persons into the United States, the presence of whom change the face of the nation. Claims of excessive criminal conduct by immigrant populations, especially those intemperately made by Trump during his successful run for the presidency in 2016, are surely mistaken. Nonetheless, immigration poses heavy challenges in the areas of education, health care, and housing. The political composition of cities and states can change with a rise in immigrant power.

Often, these issues are dealt with by sensible policies that help immigrants integrate into the economic system, learn English, and participate more fully in society. Indeed, as the immigration debate rises to a fever pitch, Ilya Somin of the Scalia Law School at George Mason University has written a powerful book, Free to Move. Somin, against the grain, urges the United States to adopt an open-border policy on immigration, noting the enormous gains for immigrants who reach our shores and the major contributions immigrant populations have made toward overall welfare in the United States.

Somin’s arguments help to strengthen the case for maintaining current levels of immigration and point towards some further liberalization of the system, starting with dreamers, who have already integrated themselves into American society. Nonetheless, I am uneasy about the more extreme position, which may be called open or free immigration. Even the mass immigration into the United States from 1890 to 1914 was not entirely free and required the resolution of hard policy problems.

For instance, immigrants had to be free of contagious diseases––and if these could not be eliminated during quarantine, shipping companies were obliged to return immigrants to their country of origin. That system, moreover, worked as well as it did in part because the private costs of immigration were sufficiently high. High costs operated as a sorting mechanism that tended to bring fitter and more self-reliant individuals to our shores. At the same time, the absorption of immigrants into society was made easier by the far smaller state and federal welfare operations of the time. This reduced the public costs of admitting new residents, and left the task of supporting and integrating newly arrived individuals to successful private organizations like the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), founded in 1881.

Open immigration under current conditions would bring great uncertainty. Could the United States absorb several million Central American immigrants coming across the border through Mexico, especially if their arrival generated political unrest or brought risks of disease? Could an organized effort by third-party entrepreneurs to ferry thousands of impoverished individuals from Africa or Asia to our shores place burdens on this nation that it could not withstand? Would the same rules for deportation apply to such populations that are imposed today?

It is hard to deal with such issues by experimentation once an open immigration program is implemented, and easy to predict the massive backlash that would occur if post hoc restrictions were implemented legislatively. It seems better, then, to adopt safer policies that have a better chance of leading to a measured expansion of immigration populations while offering humanitarian aid to regions in or near crisis.

Truthful Distinctions Matter

Candidly confronting illegal immigration is a necessary component of these delicate midcourse corrections. Some sanctions have to be imposed on illegal aliens if a system of legal immigration is to be maintained. In this regard it is instructive to note the recent trend to undermine the distinction between legal and illegal immigration for the sake of generating a more tolerant attitude towards illegal aliens. Take, for instance, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996,passed during the Clinton administration, which deployed the term undocumented immigrants in place of illegal aliens. That verbal substitution creates the linguistic possibility that people could be both undocumented and legal, even though a legal illegal alien is an oxymoron.

More recently, both the Biden administration and liberal Supreme Court justices have preferred the term noncitizen, which covers a range of persons, including those who have never had or desired contact with the United States. The term leads to such linguistic oddities as permanent noncitizen. It is now commonly asserted that the term illegal alien is “disparaging,” “derogatory,” or “dehumanizing,” and that a change from “alien” to “noncitizen” offers a way “to recognize the humanity of non-Americans,” as urged by a long-time immigration law expert, Professor Kevin R. Johnson. 

Unfortunately, these exaggerated claims undermine the very policies that could help expand legal immigration. Immigration policy requires many difficult judgments on the proper relationship between citizens and legal and illegal aliens. Truthful statements about illegal conduct should not be regarded as wholesale condemnation of any individual.  Deliberate obfuscation will not move immigration reform forward for either the proponents or the opponents of expanded immigration. d


New DHS Report Paints Picture of Biden’s Immigration Challenges

Lax immigration enforcement under Biden could bring about a new border crisis

By Charles Fain LehmanThe Washington Free Beacon

New data from the Department of Homeland Security capture the changing face of illegal immigration, revealing dramatic shifts that will shape President-elect Joe Biden’s hopes for comprehensive immigration reform.

The report from the Office of Immigration Statistics captures a transition as the share of lone adults, particularly from Mexico, declined, replaced by children and adults traveling with them from the “northern triangle” countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. That change in turn has led to a dramatic decline in the number of individuals reported, as members of the latter group rely on more accommodative legal protections to remain in the country far longer than the former.

The report also shows that individuals who were not detained after apprehension are much more likely to still be in the country. That’s a sign, acting deputy homeland security director Ken Cuccinelli wrote, that “catch and release” policies do not work.

That such policies, including an expansion of the use of “alternatives to detention,” are top of the Biden immigration agenda augurs poorly for the incoming president. The challenges that changing migration patterns posed to the Obama and Trump administrations are unlikely to go away under Biden, teeing up yet another border crisis and ensuing political meltdown.

The report combines data from myriad sources to track the “lifecycle” of would-be entrants apprehended over the past five years at the southwestern border, providing information on the immigration status of some 3.5 million apprehensions. Its coverage bookends two major migrant crises: a surge of unaccompanied minors in 2014, and a much larger surge of both families and unaccompanied kids in late 2018 and early 2019.

These two crises are part of the changing face of migration. Whereas in the period of 2000 to 2004, 97 percent of all those apprehended were Mexicans—many of them lone adults seeking work—by 2019 that share had dropped to just 24 percent. By contrast, arrivals from the “northern triangle” countries rose from 44 percent of apprehensions in 2014 to 64 percent in 2019, amid the second crisis. Many of these individuals were children, often quite young, and adults traveling with them, claiming to be their family members.

Those demographic differences strongly determine what happens to an individual after he or she is apprehended. Single adults are quickly deported, with 78 percent of those apprehended over the preceding five years repatriated by Q2 2020. But family arrivals and children are not—just 32 percent of the latter, and only 11 percent of the former, had their cases resolved as of Q2 2020.

Such migration is likely to rise under Biden, who has promised to substantially reduce immigration enforcement and intends to pursue an amnesty, both of which could incentivize further arrivals. Data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection show that apprehensions at the border rose year-on-year in the immediate lead-up to and aftermath of Biden’s election, which may indicate a rising tide of migrants eager to take advantage of a more lax immigration regime.

Those arrivals will enjoy the same preexisting immigration challenges that the Center for Immigration Studies’ Andrew Arthur identified as driving the low number of deportations for families and children. “Loopholes” in federal immigration law incentivize the bringing of children from noncontiguous countries and delay almost indefinitely their immigration court process.

In particular, abuse of the asylum system, and of provisions which require the release from detention of minors and their guardians, results in large populations who arrive, are released, and never show up for subsequent immigration processing. According to the report, just 1 percent of those detained had unexecuted removal orders, while 55 percent of those released were still listed as unresolved.

The reason for this dynamic is not that those who arrive at the southwestern border have reasonable claims to be asylees: Just 14 percent of initial applicants are eventually granted asylum. Similarly, among those cases resolved, roughly 13.6 percent were granted some relief, while the rest were summarily deported.

In other words, the report indicates a large and persistent challenge to the U.S. immigration system, with an ever-growing pool of illegal entrants and an ever-expanding backlog of immigration court cases jamming up the process of legal immigration and the limited resources of DHS.

That dynamic is likely to continue, and even expand, under the Biden DHS. Biden’s promised undoing of many of President Donald Trump’s tougher enforcement tools, including the “Remain in Mexico” policy and the limitation of “reasonable fear” asylum claims, could exacerbate the inflow of people driven by the “loopholes” Arthur and Cuccinelli identify. So too could the deployment of “alternatives to detention,” which Cuccinelli specifically singled out as problematic.

The Biden team, likely spooked by the surging apprehension numbers, has signaled that it will slow-roll the undoing of Trump’s immigration agenda. But it has not promised any of the “targeted legislative fixes” endorsed by Cuccinelli in his letter, leaving in place the adverse incentives. That could lead to another humanitarian crisis at the southwestern border—a ticking time bomb Biden’s team has evinced little interest in defusing.


The Most Important News Story Right Now Isn’t Impeachment, It’s The Crisis In Mexico

Cartels in Mexico aren’t just fighting over drugs, they’re fighting over industries, and it might well trigger a new and much bigger migrant crisis on the U.S. border.

By John Daniel DavidsonThe Federalist

Two important and interrelated news stories largely passed under the radar Wednesday as the House impeachment hearings continued to dominate the headlines. Both stories concern the deteriorating state of affairs in Mexico and have huge implications for immigration, the southwest border, and U.S. national security. It’s a shame more Americans aren’t paying attention.

The first was a report from BuzzFeed that as of Wednesday the Trump administration began carrying out a controversial plan to deport asylum-seekers from El Salvador and Honduras—not to their home countries, but to Guatemala, which the administration has designated a “safe third country,” meaning that migrants from those countries must first apply for asylum in Guatemala before seeking asylum in the United States.

The move is part of the administration’s broader strategy to reduce the number of Central Americans seeking asylum at the southwest border, which last year saw a dramatic increase in illegal immigrationlargely driven by families and minors from the so-called Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.

The second story was a Los Angeles Times dispatch from the Mexican state of Michoacán, where rival cartels are waging war not over drug trafficking routes but over control of the multibillion-dollar avocado industry. More than a dozen criminal groups are fighting over the avocado trade in and around Uruapan, the capitol of Michoacán, “preying on wealthy orchard owners, the laborers who pick the fruit and the drivers who truck it north to the United States,” writes reporter Kate Linthicum. Organized crime in Mexico, she explains, is diversifying—it isn’t just about drugs anymore:

In parts of Guerrero state, cartels control access to gold mines and even the price of goods in supermarkets. In one city, Altamirano, the local Coca-Cola bottler closed its distribution center last year after more than a dozen groups tried to extort money from it. The Pepsi bottler left a few months later.

In Mexico City, bar owners in upscale neighborhoods must pay taxes to a local gang, while on the nation’s highways, cargo robberies have risen more than 75% since 2016.

Compared with drug trafficking, a complex venture that requires managing contacts across the hemisphere, these new criminal enterprises are more like local businesses. The bar to entry is far lower.

The report also notes that homicides are at an all-time high in Mexico, and that cartels have taken control of migrant smuggling in the state of Tamaulipas, which borders the Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, the busiest stretch of the border for illegal immigration.

All this comes on the heels of the massacre of an American family in Mexico, including three women and six children, earlier this month by cartel gunmen, as well as the defeat of a detachment of the Mexican National Guard by cartel forces in the city of Culiacan last month. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has no strategy to reduce cartel violence and no intention of fighting the cartels.

The Chaos South of Our Border Won’t Stay There

So what do these two news stories from Wednesday have to do with one another, and why would they have major implications for the United States? Simply put, what has happened in Central America is now happening in Mexico. The difference is, when asylum-seekers from Mexico start turning up on our border we won’t be able to deport them to a third country or easily turn them away. If you thought the border crisis was bad last year, wait until hundreds of thousands of families in Michoacán and Tamaulipas decide to flee the cartels and seek asylum in the United States.

To really appreciate the gravity of the situation in Mexico you have to understand some of the dynamics behind the border crisis, which has been driven by Central Americans fleeing societies that are in a state of collapse. Widespread extortion, kidnapping, and violence from gangs throughout the Northern Triangle, combined with grinding poverty and scarce economic opportunities, has prompted hundreds of thousands of Central American families to head north.

One of the reasons this mass exodus turned into a crisis is that unlike earlier waves of illegal immigration, these migrants weren’t single adults from Mexico who could be quickly deported under U.S. law. They were migrant families and minors seeking asylum from noncontiguous countries, which meant they had to go through an entirely different legal process that takes much longer.

The Trump administration, like the Obama administration before it, faced a choice: either release large numbers of people who had crossed the border illegally or detain them in inadequate facilities that were never designed to hold children and families. The administration responded with a host of new policies, some of which have been struck down by the courts, designed to deter Central American asylum-seekers and reduce illegal border-crossings.

Designating Guatemala as a safe third country is one of those policies, despite the reality that Guatemala is by no means a “safe” country (like El Salvador and Honduras, it’s one of the most violent countries in the world). The Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as “remain in Mexico,” is another such policy, which forces asylum-seekers to await the outcome of their case in Mexico, often in dangerous border cities where they are vulnerable to exploitation by cartels and corrupt officials.

The upshot is that as Mexico descends into warlordism marked by widespread criminality and gang warfare, we should expect ordinary Mexicans to respond the way ordinary Central Americans have. Eventually, they’ll leave. Many of them, perhaps hundreds of thousands, will at some point head north and claim asylum. When they do, the border crisis that we’ve been dealing with for the past year will seem insignificant—a prelude to a much larger and intractable crisis, for which there will be no easy fix.


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