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.
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.
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.”
Biden’s actions speak louder than his mixed messages to migrants
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.
After weeks of planning, the nation’s spy chief sent home nearly three-quarters of the workers at the government’s intelligence agencies when faced with the partial shutdown. The move, James Clapper later admitted himself, put the United States at greater risk of terrorist attacks. He then reversed course and brought thousands of employees back to work.
A review by McClatchy finds that lawmakers, former intelligence officials and national security experts say they were shocked that the administration furloughed the bulk of federal workers at 16 intelligence agencies, many of them tasked with the most important job in the government: safeguarding lives.
“It’s difficult for me to understand,” said Leon Panetta, who served as the director of the CIA and the secretary of defense under President Barack Obama. “People that are involved in our intelligence are critical. You can’t possibly put 70 percent on furlough and not harm national security.” Continue reading
“What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.”
[On Christmas Day 1776, George Washington had Paine’s first essay read to his dispirited soldiers to boost moral. Shortly afterward the energized soldiers — emboldened by Paine’s words — launched a surprise attack on unsuspecting Hessians and won the decisive battle of Trenton.]
by Thomas Paine
December 23, 1776
THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; Continue reading