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Editor’s note: This column first appeared in The Daily Signal.
A “tissue of lies” is defined by The Free Dictionary as “a number of false statements made to deliberately hide the truth.”
Under this definition should be a copy of the Department of Homeland Security’s “Update on Southwest Border Security and Preparedness Ahead of Court-Ordered Lifting of Title 42.”
In it, the Biden-Harris administration absolves itself of any responsibility for the unmitigated disaster on the U.S. southern border, instead blaming global conditions and Congress.
But the truth is President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas own both the current chaos as well as what happens after Dec. 21, when they can no longer use Title 42 to expel foreign illegal immigrants.
Here are the biggest lies of the “Update”:
1. It’s Congress’ fault.
Biden is asking lawmakers for an emergency $3.5 billion for DHS to deal with the border. Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Committee Chair Chris Murphy, D-Conn., disingenuously claims that “There’s still a whole bunch of Republicans that are rooting for chaos on the border … ” and that he just wants to “make sure we have enough money to let the border guards do their job.”
In fact, Border Patrol agents are not doing their job because Mayorkas has them acting as clerks to process and parole thousands of illegal immigrants a week. If anyone wants chaos, it’s the Biden administration, which is using it to extort money and radical concessions from Congress.
The memo says that “absent Congressional action to enact comprehensive immigration reform” (in which they include amnesty) and “create a fair, fast, and functioning asylum system,” there will be overcrowding in facilities and mass release of illegal aliens “from DHS custody into communities without NGO [nongovernmental organization] or other sponsor support.”
That’s a shakedown. The additional billions Biden wants would go to Mayorkas’ migration machine to process and parole millions of alien arrivals, not to keeping them out of the country or stopping the flow of killer drugs.
2. It was broke when we found it.
In the DHS “Update,” the Biden administration claims that it inherited a “broken and dismantled immigration system.” This is a patent falsehood. Under President Donald Trump, illegal immigrant crossings were down significantly. In 2019, Trump’s worst year, there were only a third as many border encounters as there were in fiscal year 2022.
3. “DHS has been executing a comprehensive strategy … to secure our borders and build a safe, orderly, and humane immigration process.”
Wrong. Though you’d hardly know it from most of the national media, the flow of illegal immigrants, drugs, known criminals, and terrorist suspects is at historic levels.
In fiscal year 2021, there were more than 1.7 million illegal alien encounters. In fiscal year 2022 it was 2.4 million, and so far in fiscal year 2023 there have been more than 500,000. This does not include encounters at the legal ports of entry, or more than a million “gotaways” who slipped into the U.S. uninspected.
The rush of humanity at the border has diverted DHS from its duty to interdict illegal aliens and smuggled contraband. Even The New York Times and The Washington Post are reporting on how fentanyl deaths are effecting communities all over the country. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, all that fentanyl is coming through Mexico.
Furthermore, Biden’s immigration process is not “safe,” because at least 557 migrants died crossing the border illegally in 2021, and more than 800 died in fiscal year 2022. It is not “orderly,” as one can see in daily media footage of thousands of foreigners crossing the border illegally on foot. It is not “humane” for American citizens near the border, whose farms and towns are filled with a rotating flow of indigents, nor for the illegal migrants, who subject themselves to robbery, rape, and murder to breach our borders.
4. It’s not our fault.
The DHS “Update” claims “the increase in migration … is consisted with larger global trends.” Sure, “economic and political instability” in places like Venezuela and Nicaragua makes people want to leave, but the reason they actually do so is the welcome mat extended by the Biden administration through letting everyone in and abusing the parole power to let them stay.
In 2022, migration to the U.S. is caused by poor governance, economic mismanagement, and burgeoning populations of the unemployed. However, instead of acknowledging that reality, the Biden DHS treats millions of economic migrants like they were the few thousand fleeing communism in 1952.
Biden’s regime assumes that every person seeking admission to the U.S. is a probable asylum-seeker, despite the fact that 90% do not have a “well-founded fear of persecution,” as the Immigration and Nationality Act puts it.
5. There’s nothing we can do about it.
Wrong. The administration has existing powers under U.S. immigration law as well as proven programs like the Migrant Protection Protocols with Mexico and Asylum Cooperative Agreements with Central American countries that could have kept most potential asylum claimants outside the U.S. while they were given due process.
Instead, DHS moves them as quickly as possible into the hands of friendly activist NGOs and into the country. It took Border Patrol agents off the border to rubber-stamp parole papers. It built a Southwest Border Coordination Center and more than 10 tent camps to increase U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s capacity to house migrants, then it “doubled … capacity to transport noncitizens” with “hundreds of flights and bus routes per week” to get them inside the U.S. and “on to the next stage of their immigration process with due haste,” per the “Update.”
DHS has given more than $225 million to NGOs in Federal Emergency Management Agency grants to house illegal aliens, buy them plane and bus tickets wherever they want to go, and provide other assistance. Those aliens released are almost never removed. DHS is asking for billions more to do the same thing.
6. The “Update” claims that DHS intends “clear consequences” for those who enter illegally, and those “unable to establish a legal basis to remain in the United States” will be “promptly removed.”
This is the biggest lie of them all.
DHS claims that in fiscal year 2022 “over 1.4 million noncitizens were removed under Title 8 or expelled under Title 42, more than any previous year,” but there were more than 2.7 million encounters at the border, a historical record. Even allowing that some were repeat encounters, DHS itself admits that well over a million illegal aliens were released into the U.S. in fiscal year 2022. In fiscal year 2022, a mere 69,019 aliens were deported.
Biden’s migration policy is to allow millions of people to enter the U.S. and claim asylum, despite a low probability that they will qualify, and then refuse to deport those who fail in the process. This gives millions of people de facto permanent U.S. residency, a usurpation of congressional power and an injustice to both legal immigrants waiting in line and American taxpayers at home who pick up the costs. Congress shouldn’t fund it.
British-born Simon Hankinson is a senior research fellow in the Border Security and Immigration Center at The Heritage Foundation. From 1999–2023, he was a foreign service officer serving in India, Fiji, Ghana, Slovakia, Togo, Washington, D.C., Marseille, and Nairobi. Prior to entering the State Department, Hankinson worked as a lawyer in London, and then taught history, English, and drama at a private school in Miami.