A “situation.” That’s what Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has called the historic crisis at the southern border in his lengthy public assessment of the Biden-created debacle at the border. And yes, it is a crisis.
He doesn’t want to admit that, of course, and so his long, defensive statement is full of obfuscation, falsehoods, and misplaced blame. It uses small children as political props, implying that they comprise the bulk of under-18 illegal aliens arriving without family. This is not true, as three-fourths of those arriving are between 15 and 17 years old -- teenagers on the brink of adulthood.
The crisis at the border is a direct result of the Biden administration’s radical immigration agenda. It has been created for the purposes of increasing immigration to the United States through illegal means. This is part of the left’s agenda to take over elections and get as many illegal aliens as possible voting or on the path to voting. It’s a purely political play at the expense of American sovereignty, security, and well-being.
This agenda of increasing illegal immigration ranges from the loud-and-clear message to those south of the border that the Biden Administration is welcoming them, to the concrete promises of amnesty and the comprehensive undoing of the Trump administration’s successful border security and immigration policies. High on this list is the failure of the Biden administration to apply what is known as Title 42 public health restrictions to unaccompanied minors -- which means that COVID pandemic notwithstanding, if you are under 18 and arrive at the border without family, you’re allowed in.
Mayorkas begins his statement by providing the Biden administration’s assessment of the crisis. He does so by proceeding through different categories of illegal aliens: single adults, families, and unaccompanied minors.
Mayorkas claims that “we are expelling most single adults and families.” This is in dispute. According to the Washington Post’s Nick Miroff, “It’s no longer true that ‘most’ families are being expelled under Title 42. Stats from a one-day snapshot I saw last week showed about 25 percent of families were processed under Title 42.” It also hides that this a sheer numbers game. While many in these categories may be removed, the sheer volume means that the absolute number of those not removed is drastically rising. At the end of the day, it is about how many enter into the United States, not percentages.
Mayorkas stated that “The expulsion of single adults does not pose an operational challenge for the Border Patrol because of the speed and minimal processing burden of their expulsion.” Well, he should ask the men and women of the Border Patrol whether apprehending 4,500 to 6,000 single adults a day presents an operational problem. It clearly is.
Mayorkas then arrived at the heart of the matter: “unaccompanied children.” This is where the political framing goes into overdrive:
A child who is under the age of 18 and not accompanied by [a] parent or legal guardian is considered under the law to be an unaccompanied child. We are encountering six- and seven-year-old children, for example, arriving at our border without an adult. They are vulnerable children and we have ended the prior administration’s practice of expelling them.
Three-quarters of individuals under 18 years old arriving without a family member are late teenagers ages 15 to 17. But this is not what the media will tell you or the impression that the Biden administration gives the public. Mayorkas characterizes the illegal migration pattern as being driven by young children. It is not.
Mayorkas then states that DHS is “not expelling unaccompanied children.” This is not strictly true: Mexican unaccompanied children are still being removed as allowed by the law. If, according to Mayorkas, it is acceptable to expel an unaccompanied minor from Mexico, why is expelling UACs from Honduras or Guatemala any different? Or is this an “inhumane for thee, but not for me” situation?
Mayorkas also attempted to parrot the White House and political media’s talking point that the Biden administration inherited this crisis from President Trump by saying, “Since April 2020, the number of encounters at the southwest border has been steadily increasing.” This is misleading. As Mayorkas himself notes, “We are on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years.”
Since the November 2020 election, the numbers have soared from 72,000 to over 100,000 in February. Keep in mind that the cold winter months are usually when numbers go down, not up. Another categorical difference is that the Trump administrations dealt with surges of illegal immigration by taking action to stop it, not by taking actions to encourage it and make it easier to get into – and stay in – the United States.
According to Mayorkas, this crisis is solely driven by what are known as “push factors” -- in other words, conditions south of the border. “Poverty, high levels of violence, and corruption in Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries have propelled migration to our southwest border for years.”
Well, if that has been the case for decades, then why the explosion since the 2020 election? “Two damaging hurricanes that hit Honduras and swept through the region made the living conditions there even worse, causing more children and families to flee.” Okay, well if that explains Honduras (it doesn’t), what about the other countries where there weren’t hurricanes?
Mayorkas also claims that “the prior administration completely dismantled the asylum system.” What he probably means is that the Trump administration’s efforts to reduce the asylum backlog and shore up the process for meritorious, and not fraudulent (about 90%), claims stand in the way to using asylum as an open-borders, catch-and-release gimmick that overrides immigration law.
The fact of the matter is, this crisis is driven by political and policy “pull factors” from the United States. The biggest of all is the message that the Biden campaign, transition team, and now the administration has sent regarding shutting down enforcement and mass amnesty. Don’t take our word for it: the migrants themselves will tell you that themselves (see here, here, and here, for example). That coupled with actions by the administration to shutdown ICE, discontinue border wall construction, and a comprehensive effort to dismantle all Trump successes, has created a perfect storm of perception and opportunity.
Mayorkas then offers a backwards understanding of child trafficking when he claims that under the Trump administration “the system was gutted, facilities were closed, and they cruelly expelled young children into the hands of traffickers.” Again, not true. Ending the viability of child-trafficking routes is what is needed to put the traffickers, who work with dangerous cartels, out of business. The current administration’s policy of action as the “reception center” for trafficked children only makes the disgusting child-trafficking business more viable.
Mayorkas then begins to veer away from his introduction, where he says he wants “to share the facts,” and into political banter, trying to remove any difference between legal and illegal immigration. He claims that “the prior administration tore down the lawful pathways that had been developed for children to come to the United States in a safe, efficient, and orderly way.” Not true, not at all. A safe, efficient, and orderly way to come to the United States is to do so legally. There is nothing safe about children being smuggled to the border, not with the high-rates of abuse and the dangerous journey itself. Legal routes of immigration to the United States remain open to those around the world, and we take in more legal immigrants every year than any other country.
Mayorkas then attempts to paint a picture of the Department taking action. Noticeably absent from his list of “actions we have taken” are the actions the administration has taken to undo all the successful Trump policies. Luckily, our colleagues at the Heritage Foundation have compiled these actions here.
The actions Mayorkas does list are a series of shallow symptom-management measures that do nothing to address the root cause of the problem: facility construction, working with Mexico to receive expelled families, migrant quarantine measures, and sending FEMA to the border. In reality, the Biden administration has dramatically limited cooperation with our southern neighbors. In turn, they have encouraged massive waves of people to travel through Central America and Mexico in the midst of the pandemic. Even the President of Mexico has criticized the new U.S.’s president’s immigration policies, saying he’s viewed as the “migrant president.”
Even international observers can see superficial words will not solve the crisis. They will only create the appearance of a better-managed open border where those detained are moved out of detention and into the interior of the country more quickly.
Mayorkas then announces the unbelievable: restarting the Obama-era Central American Minors program to fly alien children into the U.S. who are largely ineligible for legal immigration in the United States. Yes, as if there wasn’t enough of a problem with large amounts of illegal immigration flowing across our border with Mexico, the Biden administration will now fly minors in directly from their home country, courtesy of the American taxpayer. The Heritage Foundation has written about this program previously and pointed out that it was opposed by even career staff in the government and that it violated immigration law. It is another illegal immigration channel, nothing more, nothing less.