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Biden’s Open Border Policies Are Deadly

By Jordan BoydThe Federalist

Want proof that President Joe Biden’s open border policies are deadly? A Texas National Guard soldier tragically drowned in the Rio Grande River this week while trying to rescue illegal border crossers from the water.

“I can tell you that it has been very dangerous in this stretch of the river this week,” Fox News’s Bill Melugin reported. “We’ve seen three migrants drown this week alone.”

That news comes just weeks after a migrant woman died while trying to scale the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

It’s difficult to calculate just how many tragedies have occurred at the U.S.-Mexico border since the Biden administration issued an unofficial gag order to cut off the press from accessing data held by federal officials but open border policies have long proved deadly. In 2021, at least 650 migrants died during their attempts to illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Many of them succumbed to heat exposure and drowning but others were killed by feuding Mexican cartels.

If the United States’ drug crisis, which is fueled by drug trafficking at the Southern border, wasn’t enough, the rise in deaths among illegal border crossers and now Americans proves that Biden’s open border policies are hurting people.

When Biden assumed office, he moved to eradicate many of the Trump administration’s border security policies such as the “Remain in Mexico” policy which required asylum seekers to await court decisions in Mexico, and immediately halted construction on the border wall. Now, Biden is working to dismantle Title 42, a policy designed to expedite the expulsion of illegal border crossers during the Covid-19 pandemic, and which border agencies were barely enforcing anyway.

Aside from the Biden administration’s official work to dismantle parameter protections, the president and his team essentially welcomed illegal immigrants into the U.S. by telling them they could come to the U.S. once an Obama-era catch and release system was reinstated.

The administration’s weak border rhetoric and policy changes opened the door for many previously hesitant aliens to illegally cross the border without the same level of fear of retribution they felt under the previous administration. Multiple illegal immigrants have admitted as much.

That’s why illegal immigration under Biden has skyrocketed and is only expected to get worse.

In March alone, border officials apprehended at least 221,303 migrants trying to illegally cross the border. That puts border officials on track to make more than two million arrests by the end of the 2022 fiscal year and endure even more tragic migrant and American deaths than last year.


Biden’s border delusion

By Byron YorkWashington Examiner

BIDEN’S BORDER DELUSION. Before President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address, there was some speculation about whether he would mention the mess he has created on the U.S.-Mexico border or whether he would simply pretend it did not exist. As it turned out, he did both — he mentioned the border, and he pretended the mess did not exist.

Biden did not give the subject prominent placement — he got to the border nearly 50 minutes into his hourlong speech. He had just made a pitch for the confirmation of his Supreme Court nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson, and segued into the border, seeking to link the court, the border, and the broader issue of comprehensive immigration reform under the concept of “liberty and justice.”

“If we are to advance liberty and justice, we need to secure our border and fix the immigration system,” Biden said. “We can do both.”

It was astonishing to hear Biden declare that “we need to secure our border,” given that he has done so much to ensure that the border is not secure. After Biden’s 2020 campaign promises to end restrictive Trump policies and stop deportations, millions of would-be illegal crossers flocked to the border beginning immediately after the new president took office. U.S. border officials encountered more than two million illegal crossers in calendar year 2021.

2022 has started on an equally bad note. In January, border authorities encountered 153,941 illegal crossers. That was almost double the number from January 2021, which was 78,414. And the 2021 figure was more than double the number from the year before that, January 2020, when authorities encountered 36,585 illegal crossers.

They are coming in huge numbers because they believe the Biden administration will allow them to stay in the United States. And indeed, as Robert Law of the Center for Immigration Studies, which supports more restrictive immigration policies, points out, “removals fell by more than 70 percent in fiscal year 2021 [at the same time] the Biden administration has granted, or extended, amnesty-lite (read: work permits, Social Security numbers, driver’s licenses) to approximately 500,000 illegal aliens through an abusive application of Temporary Protected Status.”

And then, there is the fact that under Biden, would-be illegal crossers from all around the world — not just Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries — are coming to the U.S.-Mexico border. Look at this from the Feb. 1 Daily Memo: “A new report in Axios has some of the numbers. ‘More than 800 people from India illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Yuma, Arizona in December,’ according to Axios. ‘And for the second month in a row, more than 500 migrants from Turkey crossed into El Paso, Texas.’ In the area around San Diego, 2,000 Russians arrived, as well as 300 Ukrainians. There were 15,000 illegal crossers from Cuba and Haiti. And the big number: In December, according to Axios, ‘Border Patrol agents arrested close to 53,000 migrants from Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.'”

Beyond that, the Biden administration is also secretly relocating illegal border-crossers all around the country. It is doing so secretly because it does not want local residents to know that the U.S. government is moving unvetted, illegal crossers into their towns and communities.

In late January, Fox News obtained video of a passenger plane arriving in the middle of the night at the Westchester County Airport, about 30 miles outside of New York City. A stream of single, adult men began to walk down the plane’s steps. When a local security guard asked what was going on, an official with the immigrants described the arrival as “down-low stuff that we don’t tell people, because what we don’t want to do is attract attention. We don’t want the media. Like, we don’t even know where we’re going when they tell us.” In this case, “they” refers to the Biden administration.

In light of all that, it was downright delusional for Biden to declare that “we need to secure our border.” He simply cannot have meant that statement in the way that most people would understand it, because Biden is at this moment pursuing policies that make the border less secure. This is why it was important to listen very carefully when Biden moved on to his next point:

At our border, we’ve installed new technology like cutting-edge scanners to better detect drug smuggling. We’ve set up joint patrols with Mexico and Guatemala to catch more human traffickers. We’re putting in place dedicated immigration judges in significant, larger numbers so families fleeing persecution and violence can have their cases heard faster and those who don’t [sic] legitimately here can be sent back. We’re securing commitments and supporting partners in South and Central America to host more refugees and secure their own borders. We can do all this while keeping lit the torch of liberty that has led generations of immigrants to this land — my forebears and so many of yours. 

The short version of any analysis of this paragraph is that Biden is not directing his policies toward stopping the flow of millions of people who seek to cross illegally into the United States. He will stop drug smugglers, which, if he actually accomplished it, would be a good thing but would not address the millions of illegal crossers problem. Likewise, focusing on human traffickers would be a good thing, but Biden hasn’t come within a mile of doing it.

The part about more immigration judges was interesting — in the final text of the speech handed out before Biden’s delivery, the sentence ended with “have their cases heard faster.” Biden apparently ad-libbed (and partially mangled) the part about “those who don’t [sic] legitimately here can be sent back.” And then the rest of the paragraph was essentially the old “root causes” approach to illegal border-crossing that does nothing to address today’s problem.

From there, Biden went on to a boilerplate pitch for comprehensive immigration reform, with the admonition, “Let’s get it done once and for all.”

But it was Biden’s reference to securing the border that was, in retrospect, a great moment in political dishonesty. Here he is, president of the United States, sending a message to millions of would-be illegal border-crossers that if they cross into the U.S., they will be allowed to stay. And then he stands before Congress and the entire nation and says, with a straight face, “we need to secure our border.”


The Humanitarian Crisis At The Border Keeps Getting Worse, But Biden Doesn’t Care

By Jordan BoydThe Federalist

Biden's border crisis
YOUTUBE/PHOTO

President Joe Biden and his team at the White House won’t be the first ones to tell you but record numbers of illegal aliens are still pouring across the Southern border with little to no vetting more than one year after the open-borders Democrat assumed office.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection logged approximately 153,941 migrant encounters along the Southern U.S. border last month, according to court documents obtained by Fox News. While that’s nearly 20,000 fewer alien encounters than recorded at the border in December, 178,840, the alarming figures are nearly double the number, 78,414, of encounters recorded in January 2021.

The figures also indicate that border officials, in accordance with Biden’s open-borders policies, released at least 62,573 into the U.S. last month alone. Most of these migrants were likely instructed to show up to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement across the country but many will fail to report.

Since last February, there have been more than 100,000 illegal alien apprehensions at the Southern U.S. border every month. Already this fiscal year, the U.S. has recorded more than half a million Southwest border encounters. As peak migration season picks up in spring and summer months, border apprehensions are expected to climb and even exceed 2 million for the 2022 fiscal year. This would top the 2021 fiscal year’s already record-breaking 1.7 million apprehensions.

The White House is predictably silent on the Biden administration’s failures that led to the current border crisis despite the role the president has played in exacerbating it. The administration also appears to have no public plan to curb skyrocketing migration and humanitarian crises at the border as the year goes on.

The White House’s silence on Biden’s raging border crisis is going to hurt Democrats in the upcoming midterms. As the Washington Examiner’s Byron York noted in his “Daily Memo,”  the White House’s willful ignorance of the problems that come with open borders is hurting Democrat popularity among Hispanics.

Polling suggests that most Americans disapprove of the president’s handling of the border crisis, including a majority of Hispanics, especially those in border states such as Texas. At least 56 percent of registered voters nationwide said they believe that Republicans would “do a better job on border security” than Democrats, who control the House, Senate, and White House right now.


Memo Indicates Biden Admin Does Not See Border Surge Ending Soon

By Joseph SimonsonThe Washington Free Beacon

Getty Images

The Biden administration is expanding the size of migrant processing facilities on the southern border, a sign it does not see the immigration crisis ending any time soon.

An internal document sent to senior Customs and Border Protection officials, obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, describes plans by the agency to construct three permanent processing facilities for up to 1,000 migrants at a time in Del Rio, Laredo, and El Paso, Texas. An existing temporary U.S. Border Patrol processing site in Yuma, Ariz., will double in size and also be made permanent.

CBP’s expansion of permanent processing facilities comes as the Biden administration has given no indication of how it plans to decrease the number of attempted crossings at the southern border. In January, immigration officials arrested more than 75,000 migrants at the southern border, an increase of 6 percent over the previous month, despite migration generally dropping during winter months due to colder temperatures.

CBP did not respond to a request for comment.

“Border Patrol working as processing dummies is the new normal,” one senior Department of Homeland Security official told the Free Beacon. “Enforcement and protecting the border is secondary now.”

The decision was made, according to the document, after analyzing surge patterns from migrants. The permanent facilities will replace temporary facilities in the same sectors. The sectors in the memo have faced some of the highest numbers of migrants in the entire country. Del Rio, for example, saw more than 259,000 migrants apprehended in the 2021 fiscal year. 

CBP’s memo says the plan to replace temporary facilities was made out of cost concerns. The new sites, the memo says, will also help “sustainably meet operational needs.” The memo does not elaborate on how these new facilities will cut costs.https://c405c5a6fca1dd65a7f92d69bb1e0d81.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

President Joe Biden has largely avoided commenting on the border crisis, although members of his administration, such as Press Secretary Jen Psaki and Vice President Kamala Harris, have said they are focused on “root causes” rather than border security. DHS secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has admitted to Border Patrol agents that there are few signs of a slowdown in attempted crossings. In leaked remarks last month, Mayorkas said, “The job has not gotten any easier over the last few months and it was very, very difficult throughout 2021.”

“I know apprehending families and kids is not what you signed up to do. And now we got a composition that is changing even more with Cubans, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, and the like, it just gets more difficult,” Mayorkas said. 

Republican lawmakers and current and former DHS officials have criticized the Biden administration for redirecting Border Patrol agents, whose chief responsibility is securing the border, to processing facilities. Last June, Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) said that agents distracted by lengthy processing responsibilities present opportunities for cartels to “move large quantities of illicit narcotics, like fentanyl, into the United States.”

The 2021 fiscal year saw more migrant apprehensions than any other year on record, with law enforcement reporting more than 1.6 million arrests and more than two million migrant encounters.


After Yearlong Halt in Construction, Biden Admin To Close Gaps Left in Border Wall

Homeland Security announcement comes amid record surge in illegal immigration

By Cole CarnickThe Washington Free Beacon

A U.S. Border Patrol agent drives an all-terrain vehicle past an open automatic gate in a new section of the steel bollard-style border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. / Getty Images

Nearly a year after President Joe Biden suspended development of the southern border wall, his administration announced Monday it will close gaps left open by the halt in construction.

The Department of Homeland Security said it will focus on gaps in the border in its Tucson, El Paso, and Yuma sectors—regions that have seen record levels of illegal immigration this year. DHS said it will also add “missing gates” and connect “power to gates that are already hung but are currently inoperable.” Border Patrol agents use the so-called emergency rescue gates to save migrants stranded in irrigation canals.

Biden in January suspended construction of the southern border wall, started under former president Donald Trump, leaving hundreds of miles of border construction incomplete. In the months since, U.S. authorities apprehended more than 1.7 million migrants at the border, according to Customs and Border Protection, the highest single-year count on record.

Among other efforts to address problems stemming from the halt in border construction, DHS said it will tackle soil erosion and flooding near unfinished projects.

The initiatives are expected to begin next year, CBP officials told CBS News. In the agency’s statement, DHS called on Congress to cancel funds it allocated for border wall construction during the Trump administration.

“The administration continues to call on Congress to cancel remaining border wall funding and instead fund smarter border security measures that are proven to be more effective at improving safety and security at the border,” the agency said.


The Biden Administration’s COVID Double Standard

Tourists must now provide proof of vaccination. Illegal immigrants get a free pass.

By The EditorsThe 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)

For Europeans hoping to vacation in the United States anytime soon, a piece of advice: Entering through Laredo, Texas, might be easier than making it through JFK. 

Reuters reports that the Biden administration will require tourists to provide proof of vaccination to enter the country because it’s the only way to safely boost the tourism industry. That’s a far more stringent standard than the White House is applying to those seeking to enter the country illegally via Mexico. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said this week that the administration’s border policy is “rooted in preventing the introduction of contagious diseases into the interior of the United States.”

That statement flies in the face of reality. The Texas border town of McAllen declared a local disaster this week after 1,500 of the 7,000 migrants released into the city by the Biden administration tested positive for COVID-19. 

In July alone, 210,000 migrants crossed into the country from Mexico. That 21-year record comes as Dr. Anthony Fauci pushes for Americans to re-adopt extreme COVID precautions and warns that “things are going to get worse.” 

Things are already getting worse on the border. 

According to the assistant secretary for border and immigration policy, David Shahoulian, the rate of positive tests among migrants crossing the border has “increased significantly in recent weeks.” Those migrants are getting Border Patrol officers sick, Shahoulian said, leading “to increasing numbers of Customs and Border Protection personnel being isolated and hospitalized” even as vaccination rates increase for officers, suggesting some suffer from breakthrough infections. They are surely getting American civilians sick as well.

The Biden administration’s encouraging decision to delay the repeal of Title 42—which gives Border Patrol agents authority to immediately turn away most migrants—was an acknowledgment of how dire things have gotten, but it doesn’t go far enough. Ditching the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy retards the effectiveness of any future plans by the White House to inoculate migrants at the border, given the fact that the Centers for Disease Control says the vaccine takes roughly two weeks to work. Overcrowded holding facilities will continue to serve as a vector for disease.

The Department of Homeland Security disclosed that 30 percent of all aliens in detention refuse a coronavirus vaccine. CBP holding facilities sit at around 700 percent capacity. Those kinds of numbers would bring CDC director Rochelle Walensky to tears if they were citizens packed into a Florida bar.

For all of President Joe Biden’s talk about how real “patriots” take the appropriate measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, he seems uninterested in doing his part. Biden asks American businesses to wait for a badly needed tourism boost while his border policy exacerbates the need for public-health restrictions.

The Biden White House has tried to pin growing COVID numbers on Republican governors who have ended restrictions in their states. He says governors need to “get out of the way” of the government’s COVID response. It turns out the southern border is the only place the Biden administration is relaxed about the threat posed by rising COVID numbers. 

Our thoughts on Biden’s selective concern were perhaps best encapsulated by Florida governor Ron DeSantis. “Why don’t you get this border secure,” DeSantis told the president. “Until you do that, I don’t want to hear a blip about COVID from you.”


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.


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.


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


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