The border is shifting from a manufactured crisis to a national embarrassment
Protecting national sovereignty and upholding the rule of law along our borders should not be a controversial issue, especially as we continue facing economic and public health crises. Yet, the Biden administration continues to lead the assault on our law and values. In doing so, the current border security situation is shifting from a manufactured crisis to a national embarrassment.
Week after week, the Biden administration proposes or pursues policies that are only making the crisis at the border more dire. Recent reporting indicates that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has released more than 50,000 illegal immigrants into the U.S. without issuing a formal notice to appear. They are so overwhelmed with the number of aliens crossing the border that they simply do not have the time to issue a court date. Instead, illegal aliens are asked to voluntarily show up at a local DHS/Immigration and Customs Enforcement office. Thus far, only 13 percent have shown up, which is no surprise. This administration is destroying the rule of law along our southwest border.
We are also hearing from administration officials that they are seriously considering removing Title 42 authority, which would increase the number of illegal immigrants in DHS custody and would likely cause another surge to the border. But their latest move is even more radical — congressional Democrats, with support from a Biden White House, are looking to insert amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants into a budget bill with little consent from the American people. This is a flagrant act of federal overreach and absolutely the wrong course to take.
Securing the border must be priority No. 1, and effective policies must be deployed. This is exactly the approach we took in 2019-2020 when I was leading DHS, and it worked. Other parts of a border strategy are rendered ineffective unless the rule of law is enforced. There is little reason to talk about root causes, in-country programs like the Central American Minors Program, and other initiatives if the border is effectively open. Additionally, widespread amnesty for the millions of illegal immigrants currently in the U.S. makes little sense if we want to have a secure border. Rewarding bad behavior simply encourages more of it. This is basic logic. Just the mere talk of such an ill-conceived policy is causing an uptick in illegal border apprehension numbers. U.S. Border Patrol in the Rio Grande Valley is reporting “skyrocketing” illegal apprehensions, with more than 20,000 occurring last week alone.
The Biden border strategy (or lack thereof) is vastly unpopular with the American people because they understand basic logic, fairness, and the rule of law. It is also unpopular with the thousands of law enforcement officers at DHS who are being directed to ignore the law. Thus far, the Biden White House has threatened to transfer or asked for the resignations from two senior officials at Customs and Border Protection — including the U.S. Border Patrol Chief — because they dared to speak out against or question the illogical decisions being implemented. These are not political appointees. These are career law enforcement officers who could no longer ignore the reality of the Biden administration’s dangerous decisions.
But the illogical actions continue. This administration continues to implement travel restrictions for non-essential travel along the border. If you want to cross the border legally at a port of entry, you are denied. If you choose to break the law and enter the country illegally, however, the Biden administration’s current policy will allow you to stay in the country. This administration has it exactly backward — our borders remain closed by travel restrictions that stifle our economy and prevent families from legally reuniting. On the other hand, the administration is encouraging human trafficking and allowing illegal immigrants from all corners of the world to enter the U.S. without repercussions.
The Biden administration is realizing, albeit too late, that they have taken the wrong approach. Just recently, they have announced several measures, dubbed “Blueprint for a Fair, Orderly, and Humane Immigration System,” designed to look like they are getting tough on immigration enforcement. A few of these measures, such as expedited removal and dedicated court dockets, are actions implemented by previous administrations. Whether these actions work or not depends on how they are implemented and executed over time, though the Biden administration has been uniquely opaque in its methods and operations. While I am hopeful for their success for the sake of the American people, this administration’s track record leaves significant doubt.
Chad Wolf served as acting Homeland Security secretary from 2019-2021. He is chairman of the Center for Homeland Security and Immigration at the America First Policy Institute.