Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has repeatedly told Congress that the “border is secure,” and the White House continues to insist that this is true. However, facts on the ground demonstrate otherwise.
It is difficult for many Americans to accept President Biden’s refusal to take straightforward and simple steps to stop illegal immigration, and the reality of the unprecedented and ongoing border crisis is painfully evident. Almost 2.4 million illegal migrants were apprehended at the U.S. border with Mexico in fiscal year 2022. This is a historic high that doubled the previous record number of apprehensions from 2021.
Apologists for the Biden administration have argued that the unprecedented number of “encounters,” as they call them, at the border indicate a get-tough approach to illegal immigration coupled with a compassion for asylum seekers.
The “system is broken,” they tell Americans, because of actions taken by the previous administration. But policies put in place by President Trump proved extremely effective at deterring illegal immigration. President Biden rolled back most of these policies as soon as he took office while putting in place others that have encouraged the massive waves of illegal immigration we are witnessing right now.
If the Biden administration were returning illegal crossers back across the border or to their home countries, or detaining them while they wait for immigration hearings as is required under current law, there would be much less outrage at the situation. Instead, the administration has released over a million illegal immigrants into the United States knowing full well that they are overwhelmingly economic migrants, not legitimate asylum seekers.
Then there is the issue of so-called “got-aways,” illegal aliens who take advantage of Border Patrol agents overwhelmed with the processing of millions of other illegal entrants. In fiscal year 2022 alone, the Border Patrol was able to reliably estimate that 600,000 people had evaded apprehension and successfully made it into the United States illegally. We have no idea who these people are, or where they are now, or what they are doing.
The new Republican majority in the House of Representatives is promising to address the border crisis with oversight and legislative reforms. A serious step toward that end is the Border Safety and Security Act (H.R. 29) recently introduced by Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas.
The bill creates a non-pandemic-related authority for DHS to turn away illegal aliens at the border. DHS would have the option to either detain asylum seekers pending their hearings, return them to the country from which they entered to await their hearings — as was done under the Remain in Mexico program — or return them to their home countries.
House leadership should move quickly to get Roy’s bill passed. The longer they wait, the worse the border crisis will become as the Biden administration grows more emboldened in its flouting of the letter and intent of existing immigration laws by claiming its discretion to admit illegal immigrants — or to disguise them as legal by abusing parole authority — is unlimited.
A handful of House Republicans are standing in the way of getting Roy’s bill passed, arguing that it would totally prevent foreign nationals from making asylum claims.
This is completely false. It would only require DHS to comply with existing law and detain asylum seekers until they have a hearing with an immigration judge.
Right now, the Biden administration is using the asylum system as cover to release hundreds of thousands of individuals into the United States who make frivolous or fraudulent asylum claims, in many cases granting them work authorization.
If Roy’s bill clears the House, it will put pressure on the Democrat-controlled Senate to take it up. Last year, nine Senators in the Democrat caucus voted to extend the use of Title 42, the measure put in place by the Trump administration that enabled Customs and Border Protection to quickly expel illegal border crossers.
As Secretary Mayorkas becomes increasingly defiant of Congress and with an eye toward the 2024 election, with voters already heavily favoring Republicans on immigration, will vulnerable Democrats reject a commonsense approach to stemming the border crisis?
Much damage has already been done and Roy’s bill will stem the bleeding at the border, but there remain other remedies that must be applied. Congress should prohibit migrants who have passed through a safe third country from claiming asylum in the United States.
No doubt many who are arriving at our southern border are seeking a better life, and many are hoping to escape poverty or other deplorable conditions back home — but these are not legal conditions for asylum.
Congress must respect and reiterate the original intent of the asylum system to prevent future abuses by the executive branch.
There is no good reason for members of Congress who say they want to stop the flow of illegal immigration into the United States to oppose Roy’s border bill. They should enthusiastically promote and support it.
The Biden administration will not secure the border on its own initiative, no matter the cost to the American people. Congress must act now.