Migrants Celebrate Joe Biden Ending ‘Remain in Mexico’ Program: ‘I Am Free’

Border crossers, hoping to be released into the United States, are celebrating President Joe Biden ending the widely successful “Remain in Mexico” program that helped reduce asylum fraud.

First started by former President Donald Trump in 2019, the Remain in Mexico program sought to eliminate asylum fraud and end the practice known as “Catch and Release” whereby border crossers and illegal aliens are briefly apprehended before being released into the U.S. interior while they await their future asylum hearings.

The program required border crossers and illegal aliens to wait in Mexico for their asylum hearings in the U.S. after their arrival at the southern border — ensuring they were not simply released into American communities with the hope that they would show up to their hearings.

After the Supreme Court and a lower court ruled that Biden could end Remain in Mexico, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said he would finally end the program.

Remain in Mexico’s end means thousands of border crossers enrolled in the program will now be released into American communities on a promise to show up for future hearings.

One border crosser told the San Diego Union-Tribune that he was “free” after learning he would be released into the U.S. interior rather than being returned to Mexico.

The Union-Tribune reports:

“In this moment, I am free,” he told the Union-Tribune in Spanish a few minutes after he was officially released from custody. “Before, I was not free.” [Emphasis added]

The man was among the first migrants released from [Remain in Mexico] this past week with the Biden administration’s announcement that the program was ending, following a lengthy legal battle in federal court. However, days later, most of those enrolled in the program are still waiting to be let into the United States. [Emphasis added]

“Knowing that I will be able to be here is huge,” he said. “It’s magnificent.” [Emphasis added]

In San Diego, California, alone, thousands of border crossers are expected to be released into the U.S. interior as a result of Biden ending Remain in Mexico. The program, as federal data shows, was hugely successful.

The latest data shows that of the more than 45,000 Remain in Mexico cases adjudicated since 2019, fewer than 740 migrants have been found to have legitimate asylum claims to remain in the U.S. This indicates that only 1.6 percent of Remain in Mexico migrants end up having valid asylum claims to stay in the U.S.

Meanwhile, more than 71 percent of migrants have been ordered to be deported after failing to show they have legitimate asylum claims. More than 23 percent of migrants terminated their asylum proceedings.

Officials on Biden’s National Security Council have privately warned that the program’s end will drive up illegal immigration at the southern border even more than current levels.

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Email him at jbinder@breitbart.com. Follow him on Twitter here.


Border Dispatch, Part II: ‘The Cartel Controls Everything Here Now’

Border Dispatch, Part II: ‘The Cartel Controls Everything Here Now’

MATAMOROS, Mexico —  It’s easy to find gut-wrenching stories at the border. Ask almost any migrant you meet in northern Mexico and you’ll hear about the violence and hardships they endured to get as far as they have. 

Alba Luz Perdomo, for example, fled Honduras with her husband and 13-year-old daughter after a gang killed her brother and threatened to kill them too. But that was just the beginning of their troubles.

They were forced to leave a farm where they had been working in the southern Mexican state of Tabasco by locals who told them foreigners weren’t welcome. In Monterrey, Perdomo’s daughter was nearly abducted by their landlord. They sought help from a man claiming to be a pastor in Matamoros, but who turned out to be a human trafficker and kept the family in his house for 20 days before they managed to escape. 

Now they’re living in a migrant shelter in Matamoros, just across the river from Brownsville, Texas. But they’re afraid to leave the walled compound of the shelter because the local cartel keeps trying to recruit her husband. Perdomo says she doesn’t want to cross the border illegally, but doesn’t know what to do. “I’m asking God to do something,” she says, “because this is horrible.”

Alba Luz Perdomo recounts her family’s harrowing journey through Mexico to Matamoros.

It’s impossible not to feel sympathy for this woman and her family. Their story is shockingly commonplace among migrants stuck in Mexican border towns like Matamoros and Reynosa, where I recently traveled with a pair of colleagues, Emily Jashinsky and David Agren, to better understand the ongoing border crisis. (Read part one of this series here.)

But too often, sympathetically conveying these stories — many of which are impossible to verify — is the extent of the media’s coverage of the crisis. It makes for a compelling read and, especially when President Donald Trump was in office, a just-so morality tale complete with villains and victims and a heroic struggle for justice. For left-leaning reporters, it confirms all their prior assumptions about the anti-immigrant bigotry of Trump and his supporters, and the bravery and nobility of the migrants (and, by extension, of themselves).

Of course, such biased coverage has the effect of obscuring the causes of the crisis and clouding our understanding of how it’s playing out. But looking beyond the personal stories of hardship and suffering we usually see in the corporate press — and beyond the outrage-driven coverage we often see in conservative media — we can discern the outlines of an entire black market industry around illegal immigration that’s been created and sustained by U.S. border policy, which cartels and smugglers are using to enrich themselves at the expense of migrants and the American people alike.

Consider the story of Ramon and his wife Veronica and their two-year-old daughter. They left Nicaragua, Ramon told us, because of poverty. We spoke to them on a recent weekday afternoon at the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas, where U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement drops off nearly everyone it discharges from federal custody in that area. They had just been released that morning along with about 70 others.

Their story, like many others on the border, is terrifying. When Ramon and Veronica and their daughter reached Reynosa, their bus was stopped at a cartel checkpoint and they were asked for a code. (When migrants pay off the cartel they get a code. That’s how the cartel keeps track of who’s paid and who hasn’t.)

They hadn’t paid and didn’t have a code, so the cartel kidnapped them and took them to a stash house with a bunch of other families. Ramon says the house had no water, no food, no electricity. They were held there 10 days, until family members back in Nicaragua were able to get together $3,000 (a thousand for each of them) and pay the “cartel tax.”

Veronica and Ramon and their daughter at the Respite Center In McAllen, Texas.

After they paid, they were taken over the river by boat, picked up by Border Patrol, and were released a few days later on humanitarian parole. In this case, they were released on parole through a relatively recent bureaucratic innovation designed to streamline the processing of illegal border-crossers and prevent overcrowding in federal detention centers.

They say they were only asked for the address and telephone number of their destination. ICE discharged them with a sheaf of documents that allows them to travel inside the United States — which they’ll need to do, because they were also given a date, 30 days out, to report to an ICE office in central Washington State, where they’re headed.

What they don’t have is a court date or work permits. For whatever reason, their parole documents, which they showed us, did not include a work authorization number. This concerned them greatly, as it did most everyone we spoke with at the Respite Center who didn’t have work authorization.

The irony is that Ramon and Veronica, if their story is true, might actually have a compelling case for political asylum. But they seemed far less concerned with filing an asylum claim than with getting a hold of work permits.

The two are in fact connected. If you successfully file an asylum claim, you also get authorization to work in the United States while the case runs its course, which, because immigration courts are so backlogged, now takes almost five years. This is one reason so many illegal immigrants arrested after crossing the border are claiming asylum. Even if they have no chance in court, they can work in the United States in the meantime and send money to their families back home. For many migrants, that’s the ultimate purpose of crossing the border in the first place.

But there are other ways to get authorization to work besides filing an asylum claim. We spoke to a group of Haitian men at the Respite Center who had all been released under a slightly different iteration of humanitarian parole. Their paperwork differed significantly from Ramon and Veronica’s. Not only did these men have authorization to work, they had court dates for removal proceedings that were months away, some more than a year. A staff member at the Respite Center told me she had seen court dates for removal proceedings (not asylum hearings) as far out as 2026. 

The Border Has Become a Vast Criminal Enterprise

The bureaucratic morass these people are pulled into upon crossing the border is dizzying. Even for an American citizen and a native English speaker, it’s hard to follow. No wonder the reality of U.S. immigration policy gets distilled down to a few essentials on the south side of the Rio Grande.

What most migrants there believe is in fact the truth, more or less: if you can get across the Rio Grande, you will probably be allowed to stay. Under what conditions and for how long is not as important to them as crossing the border and getting released from U.S. custody, preferably with permission to work.

Because of this, smuggling networks and cartels are able to collect massive revenues from migrants, knowing that once inside the United States they will be able to earn far more than they could back home or in Mexico. That’s why, for example, the cartel that kidnapped Ramon and Veronica held them until family members back in Nicaragua came up with a cash payment of three thousand dollars.

Those family members no doubt went into debt with local loan sharks to come up with the money, as migrants’ families are often forced to do. But if Ramon and Veronica can get into the United States and start working, it will ultimately be worth it. For some migrants stuck in northern Mexico, failing to get into the United States isn’t an option; if they don’t get in and start working, their families back home will never be able to repay the loan sharks.

Haitian migrants wait near the international bridge in Matamoros to meet with immigration lawyers.

This is dynamic now all up and down the border. Indeed, it’s hard to overstate the extent to which illegal immigration has become an industrial-scale, international smuggling black market that operates according to these incentives.

In Matamoros, Pastor Abraham Barberi, who runs one of two migrant shelters in the city, told us that back in 2019, when some 3,000 migrants were concentrated in a sprawling encampment near the international bridge, the cartel came in and made every person there pay a tax. “The cartel made a lot of money off that,” Barberi told us. “A lot of money.”

The 54-year-old pastor has been working in Matamoros for more than 20 years, and personally knows many members of the cartel here, which he says “controls everything here now,” including the police and the municipal government. Even the predominantly Haitian migrant community, we were told, has been infiltrated by the cartel as a way of keeping track of newcomers. (As if to underscore the point, a few days after we left town the cartel imposed blockades along main roads in Matamoros and set fire to a bunch of vehicles, supposedly in retaliation for the arrest of a Gulf Cartel boss.)

“They know you’re here,” Barberi tells us at one point, but quickly adds that we’re safe, not to worry. “They won’t bother you because they don’t want trouble with the U.S. government, or any foreign governments.” He says the cartel leaves him and his shelter alone, not just because they know he’s doing good work but because he’s not trying to profit off the migrants in his care.

“If we were doing something illegal with the migrants, or we were charging them to stay here, collecting money, profiting from them, the cartel would be here in a heartbeat,” he says, snapping his fingers for emphasis. “They would want a part of it. But they know we’re not doing that. I have asked the coyotes [smugglers] please, don’t do business here, do it over there. And they respect that.”

At the same time, Barberi adds, when the cartel-affiliated smugglers want customers, they know where to find them. “In a sense, their business is right here. They don’t have to go around looking for them.”

It’s not just cartels in border towns that see migrants as potential “customers,” it’s also Mexican officials in the country’s interior. Miguel, a Salvadoran taxi driver who came to Reynosa with his wife and three kids, relayed a common story we heard from others in the shelters: that on the bus ride north, when they reached Monterrey, uniformed and armed federal agents boarded the bus and asked everyone for their papers. Miguel and his family had none, so the agents demanded payment.

Variations of this story are common. Sometimes it’s not federal agents but state police or cartel gunmen. What emerges, though, is a picture of official corruption at every level of Mexican society that enables hundreds of thousands of migrants to transit through Mexico each month and arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border. It’s a massive and lucrative business.

Every aspect of illegal immigration has been monetized, including information — and often outright misinformation. Barberi told us he found out recently that his name, address, and phone number were being sold for a thousand dollars in Central and South America by people claiming that if migrants could just get to Barberi’s shelter in Matamoros, he would take them across the border. 

Now, Barberi tells arriving migrants right away that no one at his shelter is going to take anyone across the border. Often, he says, they also think there’s a list they can get on to get into the United States. Barberi tells them there is no list, it doesn’t exist. He says he wishes the U.S. government would make a video explaining all this and post it to social media, to deter people from coming. He has repeatedly asked the U.S. consulate to do this, to no avail.

But even if such a video or PR campaign existed, it would be going up against the personal testimony of hundreds of thousands of people who are crossing the border illegally and being released into the United States every month. There is nothing the Biden administration can say, no message it can send, that refutes the tangible results of its policies: people are getting in, and they are staying.

The Respite Center where we met Ramon and Veronica only allows migrants to stay 24 hours. Hundreds of people churn through there every day. Even those like Ramon and Veronica, who said they had no money left to travel to Washington state, will soon move on, somehow. Veronica told us they were “waiting to see what will happen,” that a friend in Washington might loan them the money for airfare, and that throughout their ordeal, “We have always trusted in an all-powerful God.”

John Daniel Davidson is a senior editor at The Federalist. His writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Claremont Review of Books, The New York Post, and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter, @johnddavidson.


7 More House Democrats Can Help Stop The Looming Border Catastrophe

7 More House Democrats Can Help Stop The Looming Border Catastrophe

The Biden administration’s decision to stop using Title 42 to stem the border traffic tide will precipitate an unprecedented deluge from the Rio Grande Valley to the California coast. It poses a grave national and economic security threat to the United States for one primary reason: it is the battlefield equivalent of laying down one’s arms and surrendering—in this case, to dangerous cartels.

While we should fully reinstate Title 42 protocols, any responsible Congress would also respond to this crisis not by asking for mere “plans” or promises, but by immediately bolstering border security well beyond health codes.

Title 42 is a health law that allows the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to establish the basis for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to turn away anyone at the border who might pose a health risk to the United States based on communicable diseases. Covid-19 clearly warranted this, and clearly continues to, given that the same bureaucrats who now claim we don’t need Title 42 have no problem forcing Americans to wear masks on airplanes and inject themselves with a new vaccine to keep their jobs.

Although Title 42 isn’t the border security panacea some make it out to be, it is nevertheless the last vestige of enforcement at our southern border. Its repeal is the last step by the president, “Border Czar” Kamala Harris, and DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to carry out their clearly stated aim to end enforcement of immigration laws and to toss Trump administration policies that worked.

As a result, their border crisis will worsen, because the Biden administration is causing asylum claims to be the exception that swallows the border security rule. The result?

Thousands more dead Americans from fentanyl, more unknown crossers — including terrorists and violent criminals — more destroyed property for ranchers and Americans across the country, more migrants forced into indentured servitude and sex trafficking, and a greater incentive for more migrants around the world to take the dangerous journey. All of it will enrich and empower cartels to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.

Now that Congress is finally waking up to the dire situation at the border, leave it to some Republicans — those always ready to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory — to offer “solutions” that will fall short of accomplishing the needed goal of a secure border.
At least 11 Democrats in Congress have now signed on to a bipartisan bill requiring Title 42 to be enforced until 60 days after the U.S. surgeon general submits written notification to Congress formally rescinding the Covid-19 public health emergency and national emergency. This plan leaves all the same federal powers to the bureaucrats behind this mess in the first place.

Even worse, the bill states that, no later than 30 days after the written notification is provided, the Biden administration must submit a plan to Congress on “addressing any possible influx of migrants.” Not only does the plan not have to be implemented, anything presented by this administration will inevitably be nothing more than a plan to process more illegal migrants, rather than to secure the border. One need look no further than the brief for DHS’s “contingency plan” for proof.

More processing will mean less security at our border. Reports indicate we could see roughly 18,000 illegal migrants at our southern border per day without Title 42. Hector Garza, president of the Laredo Border Patrol Council, recently said it takes roughly 20 to 30 minutes for CBP agents to process migrants under Title 42, and 1 to 2 hours to process under Title 8.

So, without Title 42, it will take between 18,000 and 36,000 man hours to process one day’s encounters. That means more agents, who can’t even control the current flow of 7,000 per day, will be processing instead of patrolling the border. That means more human trafficking victims, more criminals pouring over the border, and more fentanyl overdoses destined for our neighborhoods. We will be completely outmanned.

This looming catastrophe was completely foreseeable, of course. That’s not because the “end” of the pandemic might one day come, but because such an obvious truth would elude a feckless Biden administration committed to permanent Covid phobia.

Even given the predictability of this crisis, it still took a year to amass 211 Republican signatures on a discharge petition I filed in April 2021 to force a vote on Title 42. The bill introduced by my friend Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-New Mexico, would keep the Trump-era Title 42 protocols in place until there is no longer a federal or state public health emergency declared and travel to Canada and Mexico is normalized. Currently, 18 states still have public health emergencies due to Covid-19, and travel restrictions are “level 3” for Mexico.

We only need seven more signatures to get around House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on this. Instead of pursuing — or hiding behind — new half measures in the name of “bipartisanship,” House Democrats should join with the 211 Republicans ready to force a vote on what works.

Further, Title 42 isn’t just a Covid protocol. Its use is warranted any time, especially given the large number of diseases our Border Patrol agents encounter daily — diseases that are made worse with growing numbers.

In just the span of one week without Title 42, we could see well more than 100,000 illegal migrants encountered at our southern border. This many people in consolidated areas will ultimately lead to rampant diseases spread in tight spaces — diseases such as Dengue, Chikungunya, Zika viruses, and tuberculosis, to name a few.

In fact, before anyone had ever heard of Covid, in May 2019 public health “experts” warned that “crowding diseases” were easily spreading in CBP facilities. This was back when 133,000 migrants were apprehended in one month. We could be seeing four times as many encounters without Title 42 in front of this administration’s policies.

Importantly, Congress should get busy moving past Title 42 as a band-aid enforcement mechanism. The crucial, sovereign authority to control who enters our country shouldn’t be reduced to the idea of Covid-19 or communicable diseases at all. DHS should have statutory authority to turn people from our borders when it is the responsible thing to do to protect the security of the United States for any reason.

Even more, DHS should be statutorily required to turn away all border trespassers who cannot safely be detained in the United States, be placed in “migrant protection protocols,” or remain in a safe third country during the adjudication of their claims. Full operational control of the border — and the ability to turn away or remove the population rushing our border — should be the standard, not the exception.

Chip Roy is the Republican representative for the 21st congressional district in Texas.


How The Biden Administration Is Aiding And Abetting The Biggest Border Fraud In U.S. History

How The Biden Administration Is Aiding And Abetting The Biggest Border Fraud In U.S. History

AUSTIN, Texas — America was already weathering the greatest border crisis in recorded history when President Joe Biden’s administration announced the last day of the Covid-related public health order Title 42 will be May 23. That’s the pandemic containment U.S. Code that, since President Donald Trump invoked it in March 2020, has been used to deny illegal border jumpers access to the American asylum system while bouncing them back to Mexico.

Biden started the crisis on Inauguration Day with his first executive orders and by cutting out major exemptions in Title 42 for illegal migrant families and minors. What was left of it posed the last serious speed bump to an unimpeded open border.

The Biden government has publicly admitted that something bad will happen at the southwest border: an estimated 12,000 to 18,000 migrant apprehensions a day (versus the record-breaking 6,000 average now), or up to 540,000 a month (170,000 a month lately), and maybe six million by the end of 2022 (compared to the nationally historic two million apprehensions at the end of 2021). A Washington Post headline craftily understated that Biden’s Department of Homeland Security was bracing for “unprecedented strains.”

No one seems to be asking why as some 540,000 illegal migrants per month will soon be jumping the borders in all the front-line states. The overlooked real reason they will come is to defraud an American asylum system that Title 42 denied them but will now be returned, more prone than ever to abuse.

The ‘Remain in America’ Fraud

Clues about the true reasons for Title 42’s demise can be found throughout the communiques of pro-illegal immigration organizations. It was never that the public health crisis had passed, only about reopening full access to the American asylum system. Why?

Because as it stands, the asylum system provides a reprieve from mandatory deportation and all but guaranteed release into the United States. An apt term for this is “Remain in America.” It allows almost anyone on U.S. soil who utters “I want asylum” to a federal officer to dodge otherwise mandatory deportation and get in for years.

Groups like the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), relentlessly campaigned to kill Title 42 because they want Remain in America back. In one communique, RAICES correctly assessed that Title 42 was designed to “deter as many people from entering the United States as possible.”

Title 42 most certainly took Remain in America offline. Border Patrol apprehensions plummeted from the 45,000 range in late 2019 to 17,106 in April 2020 and 23,237 by that May. The activist industry has felt infuriated ever since and campaigned to restore Remain in America to its pre-Trump glory.

“For two years, Title 42 has blocked more than 1.7 million migrants from seeking safety at our border under the guise of public health and needs to end right now,” Tami Goodlette, director of litigation at RAICES, groused in an April 1 statement.

Disingenuously, such activists couch demands for Title 42 dismantlement as a high-minded moral imperative, counting on the fact that average Americans don’t understand its narcotic enticement on the world’s poor.

“People fleeing danger in their home countries have the legal right to seek safety and protection in the United States,” Goodlette went on. “And it must also immediately restore the asylum process without expanding the country’s mass incarceration and deportation machine.” 

Such proponents will never say out loud what they must surely know: Open access to asylum’s Remain in America sets off border stampedes and its May 23 restoration is what brought the migrant hurricane now whirling off the American shore.

A Noble Purpose Corrupted

The asylum law was born of noble purpose, but ineligible economic migrants and their professional American champions have coopted and corrupted it. Amended from earlier laws that contemplated World War II-era refugee flows, the system’s off-ramp from deportation today came from the Refugee Act of 1980. It required that America “respond to the urgent needs of persons subject to persecution in their homelands” to avoid deporting “refugees of special humanitarian concern.”

The people its architects had in mind to save were, say, Vietnamese boat people fleeing communist “reeducation camps,” Jewish “refuseniks” fleeing the Soviet Union repression, or perhaps Uighur Muslims from Communist Party government labor camps. Intending claimants had to demonstrate “a well-founded fear of persecution” by governments or political groups the governments can’t control, based on one or more of five criteria: race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, and, political opinion.

Over time, anyone crossing the border discovered he too could avert deportation with a persecution story fit to one of the five criteria. No verification was needed.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services interviews ask asylum claimants if they have a “credible fear” of returning home. This is little more than a gut check. The bar to “yes” is low, and verification of persecution stories is not required. Government interviewers just had to judge a 10 percent likelihood that the petitioner faced potential persecution under the five categories.

A “no” in the box can lead to deportation but is appealable for years. A “yes” permits migrants to enter America with a year to file a formal asylum petition, then many more years (the court backlog was 4.5 years as of FY2021) to get before an immigration judge for a final judgment, or more appeals for years after that. Or they can just blow it all off and disappear.

So a Honduran yam farmer fleeing a failed crop who claims government persecution is highly likely to win the same long-term reprieve as would a North Korean gulag escapee.

Mass Fraud Coming and Every Insider Knows It

The asylum system is not geared to detecting asylum fraud, and U.S. prosecutors aren’t very interested in prosecuting it, according to General Accountability Office reporting in recent years. But evidence of fraud is indicated by immigration judge denials, Executive Office of Immigration Review statistics (EOIR) show. There’s other evidence of mass fraud.

In recent years, I’ve interviewed probably hundreds of Haitians en route to the American border to claim asylum on grounds that they can’t return to Haiti’s government and criminal gang persecution. But I’ve never met a Haitian actually coming from Haiti. All of them had been living comfortably and securely in Chile and Brazil for four, five, and six years.

They discard their Chilean and Brazilian identification documents all over the riverbanks of the Rio Grande, where I find them. They toss these because they are evidence of asylum ineligibility, proving they were living safely for years in those two prosperous South American nations.

Image by Todd Bensman.

I find such discarded passports from countries all over the world, foretelling that their bearers planned to cover their ineligibility tracks and provide fake or altered names to American interviewers. Fraud.

EOIR statistics show judges aren’t buying most Haitan asylum claims. They granted just 7 percent 2020, accounting for an abandonment or withdrawal rate of 42 percent and a denial rate of 51 percent.

That’s for good reason, according to someone who worked as a judge for many years. Andrew “Art” Arthur, who served on the bench in Pennsylvania, said people who settled into protected lives in third countries have little chance of legally receiving U.S. asylum.

“Asylum is for people who don’t have anywhere else to go,” Arthur said. “These people actually have somewhere to go where their lives are not in danger. They were already settled.”

“A drowning man will reach for the point of a sword; that’s the idea behind the asylum system,” Arthur continued. “But these people aren’t drowning. They’re sitting on a beach.”

Senegalese passports discarded near Yuma, Arizona in April 2022. Photo courtesy of Ben Berquam.

Consider Guatemalans. By the end of February 2022, Guatemalans topped the list of nationalities with backlogged asylum cases at 313,836, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse data. But outcomes indicate no real interest in asylum beyond its Remain in America provisions.

In 2019, out of every 100 asylum claims that got Guatemalans summarily released into the country, 77 percent never bothered to follow through with a formal application, EOIR statistics show. Of the 33 percent who did, judges granted just 5 percent. As for the rest, either judges denied the claims or Guatemalans abandoned them.

A New Superhighway for Asylum Fraud

Asylum fraud is vastly successful under that system but not enough, evidently, for the pro-illegal immigration advocacy industry. It could not be more excited than now for a new and improved system set to open when Title 42 falls.

The Biden administration has finalized a plan that takes immigration judges out of the picture and replaces them with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service adjudicators who can be ordered to rubber-stamp asylum claims right at the border starting as soon as June. Legal challenges are expected.

Under the headline “Biden Administration Prepares Sweeping Change to Asylum Process,” a March 24 New York Times story acknowledged that critics predict the new system “will draw even more hopeful migrants to the border.”

Trump worked hard to neutralize the asylum system’s most alluring elements. But all the planets and stars seem to have lined up for a true Noah’s Flood at the border. When it ends, no one should forget what caused it and why.

Todd Bensman is a Texas-based senior national security fellow for the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington D.C.-based research institute, and a writing fellow for the Middle East Forum. For nearly a decade, Bensman led counterterrorism-related intelligence efforts for the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Intelligence and Counterterrorism Division. Follow him on Twitter @BensmanTodd. Bensman worked for The Dallas Morning News, CBS, and Hearst Newspapers, covering the FBI, federal law enforcement and serving on investigative teams. He reported extensively on national security and border issues after 9/11 and worked from more than 25 countries in Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa. Bensman holds a master’s degree from the Naval Postgraduate School, a master’s degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, and a B.S. degree in journalism from Northern Arizona University.


Faced With A Coming Wave Of Illegal Immigration, Biden’s Plan Is Simply To Open The Border

Faced With A Coming Wave Of Illegal Immigration, Biden’s Plan Is Simply To Open The Border

The southern border is about to explode, and federal authorities are making preparations — not to arrest, detain, and deport record numbers of illegal border-crossers, but to process them quickly and release them into the United States.

How do we know? Two developments in recent days have revealed the White House’s scheme to handle the busiest time of year on the southwest border amid a record-breaking streak of illegal immigration.

Last Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it will rescind Title 42 effective May 23. Title 42 is the public health order invoked by President Trump during the Covid-19 lockdowns and partially continued under President Biden. It’s one of the only reasons illegal immigration, which hit record levels last year, wasn’t much worse than it could have been. It was, in effect, the last remaining tool federal border officials had to control illegal immigration, and next month it will be gone.

By making it relatively easy for border officials to expel illegal border-crossers without processing them for deportation, Title 42 helped avert a full-blown humanitarian catastrophe at the border. For the past two years, Border Patrol agents and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers were empowered simply to send certain classes of illegal immigrants (mostly single adults and some family units) back over the border to Mexico.

Ending Title 42 means a return to the pre-Covid process, which allows almost anyone who crosses the border, even those who cross illegally, to file a claim for asylum. Because Biden effectively shut down a Trump-era program called the Migrant Protection Protocols (also called Remain in Mexico) that forced migrants to wait in Mexico while their asylum cases were adjudicated, most migrants who claim asylum will be released into the United States pending the outcome of their cases, which on average take about three years.

In other words, ending Title 42 under these circumstances means every migrant who gets over the border and claims asylum will get to remain in the United States, legally and with work authorization, for years. As a matter of policy, it is effectively indistinguishable from open borders.

The Biden administration understandably doesn’t want the American people to know this, to understand the details and what it means for the country. Uncontrolled illegal immigration is after all extremely unpopular, even among Democrat voters.

That’s why the administration is trying to portray what amounts to a de facto open borders policy as border enforcement and security. CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus this week issued a statement designed to do just that, but if you read between the lines you’ll see that CBP’s plan for the end of Title 42 amounts to an abdication of border security and acquiescence to open borders. Says Magnus:

Throughout our agency’s history we have capably managed immigration at the border utilizing the authorities under Title 8 of the US Code (traditional immigration management authorities). These authorities allow non-citizens appropriate access to make asylum claims and include a range of enforcement options to hold individuals accountable for entering the U.S. illegally.  This means most individuals who cross the border without legal authorization will be promptly placed in removal proceedings.

As a result of the CDC’s termination of its Title 42 public health order, we will likely face an increase in encounters above the current high levels.  There are a significant number of individuals who were unable to access the asylum system for the past two years, and who may decide that now is the time to come.

There’s a lot to unpack here, but note the last sentence about migrants being “unable to access the asylum system.” The implication is that if illegal immigration surges, it’s because of pent-up demand for asylum, not because Biden’s policies encouraged illegal immigration.

But that argument makes no sense given the record numbers of arrests at the southwest border since Biden came into office. Those include more than 2 million last year, an all-time record since CBP began tracking border apprehensions decades ago. Whatever pent-up demand there was has been met, and what we’re seeing now is increased demand driven almost entirely by Biden’s policies.

If illegal crossings surge in the coming months, as everyone expects them to, it’s because of what Magnus says at the end of that first quoted paragraph above: “most individuals who cross the border without legal authorization will be promptly placed in removal proceedings.”

Most Americans might think a term like “removal proceedings” means timely deportation of an illegal immigrant, but it doesn’t. Given the backlog in our immigration courts, removal proceedings amount to a legal backdoor into the United States.

The University of Syracuse keeps an ongoing tally of federal immigration data through a research center called the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, or TRAC. According to TRAC, out of 11,664 completed immigration court proceedings so far this year, the average time to completion is 1,105 days, or more than three years. (That’s more than double the amount of time on average it took to adjudicate cases during the Trump presidency.)

Immigration Court Processing Time by Outcome
by Removals, Voluntary Departures, Terminations, Relief, Administrative Closures

In practice, that means a migrant who crosses the border illegally, gets arrested by Border Patrol, claims asylum, and is then released into the United States with a court date will have about three years to live and work in the United States before an immigration judge ever issues an order for removal.

Given Magnus’s emphasis on “removal proceedings,” then, it appears the entire federal immigration enforcement apparatus in the coming months will be focused on processing and releasing into the United States as many migrants as possible as fast as possible.

Indeed, in a long list of bullet points outlining everything CBP is doing to prepare, we see things like, “Shifting Border Patrol agents and CBP officers from other locations to assist at the border… Increasing the number of ICE personnel working alongside CBP personnel to assist in processing migrants… Activating other DHS personnel who have volunteered to temporarily work on the border… Maximizing the use of air and ground transportation to move migrants from sectors that are over capacity.”

In other words, it’s all hands on deck for the federal immigration bureaucracy, but the urgent task is to process and transport and release migrants, not arrest, detain, and deport them.

We also see, further down Magnus’s list, a plan to increase the “efficiency” of the asylum system “by restarting normal asylum-seeker processing at ports of entry and working with other DHS partners to decrease the length of these processes (this is being done, in part, by adopting a new rule to expedite processing by asylum officers).”

Last month, the Biden administration announced a sweeping new rule that will allow asylum officers at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to adjudicate asylum claims instead of immigration judges at the Justice Department. The idea behind the new rule is to ease pressure on overburdened immigration courts, but as Andrew Arthur and Robert Law of the Center for Immigration Studies noted recently, it’s really “a plan to rubberstamp asylum grants and hide the disaster at the Southwest border by turning ‘illegal aliens’ into ‘asylum seekers’ with the stroke of a pen.”

As Arthur and Law explain:

Under law prior to this most recent announcement, only IJs [immigration judges] could grant asylum to aliens apprehended at the border who were then placed into ‘expedited removal’ proceedings, and then only at the end of formal removal proceedings.

In those proceedings, the alien respondent was allowed to present evidence (including testimony) concerning his or her asylum claim. During that presentation of evidence, an ICE attorney representing the interests of the American people was allowed to cross-examine and impeach the alien respondent, offer contradictory evidence, and appeal an erroneous asylum grant.

Under the administration’s new rule… those procedural safeguards are thrown out the window. The AO [asylum officer] elicits the alien’s claim during a ‘non-adversarial’ interview during which the alien is allowed to have an attorney (but you, the American people, aren’t). If the AO grants asylum, even contrary to law, logic, and the weight of the evidence, that’s it. There is no ICE lawyer to appeal that decision.

Yet CBP’s plans for the coming surge at the border, however misguided they are, might be irrelevant long before Title 42 ends on May 23. The sheer number of illegal immigrants coming across the border might well overwhelm CBP officers and facilities, even with extra help from ICE and DHS.

Already, the number of arrests at the border has forced mass releases of adult migrants. Bill Melugin of Fox News has been documenting these so-called “parole releases” in south Texas for weeks now, reporting that hundreds of migrants are being released in border towns like Brownsville every day. 

They are being released, in most cases, with a notice to report to a local ICE office whenever they get to where they’re going. In some cases, they are being given phones to communicate with ICE. This means they don’t even have court dates, and have not even filed asylum claims.

In other words, the system is overwhelmed right now, with Title 42 still in place. Between now and the end of May, things are going to get much worse.

John Daniel Davidson is a senior editor at The Federalist. His writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Claremont Review of Books, The New York Post, and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter, @johnddavidson.


The Biden Admin Released A Suspected Terrorist Into The United States After He Illegally Crossed The Border

The Biden Admin Released A Suspected Terrorist Into The United States After He Illegally Crossed The Border

AUSTIN, Texas –On Feb. 16, Republican Congress members asked House Democrats for permission to hold a hearing about a decision to release a suspected Islamist terrorist who in November swam the Rio Grande into Texas.

Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., ranking member of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, penned the request to subcommittee Chair Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, in part on grounds that “There is no known case in which a foreign national who pinged on a terror watch list was simply released on his own recognizance. The facts in the case strongly suggest that the Biden Administration failed to follow appropriate protocols with respect to suspected terrorists.”

Eight GOP lawmakers on the subcommittee signed the letter. But it appears House Democrats are not as interested. An aide in the congressman’s office said they’ve heard nothing: “They’re ignoring us.” Two of my own emailed requests to Lee’s spokesperson went unanswered.

The silent treatment should come as no surprise in this era of sharp partisanship. The GOP co-signatories probably understood this when they sent the letter. But they had to send it anyway because the case at the root of this partisan kerfuffle is too serious for stupid swordsmanship. This one deserves a real hearing, perhaps an inspector general investigation, and media inquiry as the objectively non-partisan homeland security matter this is.

The case of Lebanon-born Venezuelan Issam Bazzi’s release into the American interior is just the latest such incident that raises serious questions. Chief among them is whether the historic mass-migration crisis at the U.S. southern border has seriously degraded national security.

How This Terrorist Suspect Was Set Free

Bazzi was among a swell of Venezuelans who began crossing the Rio Grande in escalating numbers last November on word that the United States was handing out free passes into the interior. Some 25,000 turned themselves in at the border in December and another 22,000 did in January. According to leaked Department of Homeland Security documents in my possession, Bazzi flew with his wife and daughter to Monterrey, Mexico, in early November, then swam the river into Brownsville, Texas.

His name and fingerprints flagged him as on the FBI’s terrorism watch list, so a mistaken identity is unlikely. In the lexicon of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Bazzi is described in the documents as a “Category 5 group member,” which can mean not considered armed and dangerous. But one of the government documents noted Bazzi’s file “contains substantive high side derogatory information.”

As I explain in my book, “America’s Covert Border War,” danger level is irrelevant for what is supposed to happen with any border-crossing terrorist group member on the FBI’s watch list. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website notes that “generally, any individual who is a member of a ‘terrorist organization’ … is ‘inadmissible and is ineligible for most immigration benefits.”

FBI agents operating in line with established post-9/11 protocols interrogate watch-listed migrants and others from countries of national security interest who cross the southern border and end up in Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers. That happened when Bazzi was flagged as a suspected terrorist in Brownsville, Texas, after his crossing. But then the process went off the rails.

After interviewing Bazzi, the FBI cited “highly derogatory information” in deciding he was a flight risk and recommended ICE keep the 50-year-old Venezuelan in custody. Typically, migrants suspected of terrorism are deported to their home countries, even if they have no “highly derogatory” intelligence information on their records and don’t pose a flight risk, as the FBI said of Bazzi.

Granted, the United States could not have deported Bazzi to Venezuela because of American diplomatic estrangement with the Nicolas Madura regime. But DHS would have known that the Biden administration was working on an agreement with Colombia to air-deport Venezuelan border-jumpers there. Starting January 31, the United States began deporting Venezuelans to Colombia under that agreement.

But Bazzi was not in custody for that to happen. Something so far off the grid as to defy belief happened instead. ICE headquarters in Washington D.C. ordered Bazzi released into the United States on his own recognizance to pursue an asylum claim in Michigan, where he had family, according to the DHS documents.

This order came in defiance of the FBI’s recommendation. The reason? Bazzi was claimed to be at heightened risk from Covid-19 in the detention center due to a “Chronic Care Condition – Overweight,” the leaked DHS documents said.

Someone in federal homeland security leaked sensitive internal documents about this to Pulitizer Prize-winning former New York Times reporter Charlie LeDuff, who ran a story in a Detroit-area online publication that no other reporter has even tried to follow. LeDuff told me he made contact with Bazzi and relatives who, in brief telephone communications, denied he was a terrorist and said they had no idea why he was on a terrorism watch list.

Even Deeper Causes for Concern

According to the documents, U.S. authorities had denied Bazzi a tourist visa in 2019 to visit relatives in the Detroit area. His FBI terrorism watch list status was cited for declining him. Those systems worked in keeping him out of the country.

All thinking Americans on either side of the political aisle should find unity in asking why Bazzi’s illegal crossing of the southern border and merely asking for asylum got him inside the country. The obvious initial indicator, short of more answers, is that a border defense failed in an important national security function, most probably because a mass migration crisis of historic proportions. An overloading 2 million apprehensions during 2021, the most since the nation began counting in 1960, has broken management systems down there.

Instead of the outcome for Bazzi’s tourist visa application, Bazzi’s illegal border crossing has him living free on his own recognizance pending the outcome of an asylum case that, also because of the border, will allow him total freedom for years because of a vastly expanded immigration court backlog.

Mexico Also Released a Yemeni Terror Suspect

One reason to suspect the mass migration crisis has heightened a once fairly managed national security threat is that the Bazzi case is now the second one I have found where border counterterrorism protocols apparently broke under the weight. Mexico is staggering under the mass migration on its side too.

According to other government documents leaked to me, Mexican immigration in April 2021 caught a Yemeni just as he was about to cross into Del Rio, Texas. At that early stage of the mass migration crisis, collaborative protocols with the Americans, as I also report in “America’s Covert Border War,” seemed to be working. Notified, the Americans would have run the name and fingerprints through databases and gotten the FBI watch list hit; Yemeni national Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed was a “Category 5” member of a terrorist organization.

The Mexicans tried to deport Ahmed to Yemen. It didn’t work out. An American law enforcement intelligence source told me the Mexican intelligence officers prematurely left him at a European transit airport and returned to Mexico. Ahmed abandoned his connecting flight and returned to Mexico, too. The Mexicans caught him again in July 2021, preparing to cross into Del Rio.

By then, Mexico was struggling to manage historic numbers of migrants. They kept him for five months. But instead of deporting him this time, Mexico let Ahmed go free, an act the Americans would never have previously agreed to.

Screen shot from government document obtained by the author.

Ahmed was supposed to check in weekly with immigration once a week but, of course, disappeared. The release so alarmed the Americans that they sent out a “Be On The Lookout” bulletin to law enforcement on the Texas side to capture him. It’s unclear if anyone ever did.

Serious Action Needed, Stat

Next to the need for all Americans to demand Ahmed’s capture or evidence of it, there’s another important takeaway from this incident. It is that, like the mishandling of Bazzi, this one also presented a sharp departure from normal protocols.

President Biden barely mentioned the southern border in his March 1 State of the Union speech. Biggs needled him on Twitter at one point during the border part of the speech, expressing frustration: “You released a suspected terrorist from ICE custody so he wouldn’t catch COVID,” Biggs tweeted.

The frustration amid the silence on these cases is understandable. Democrats must hold their noses and unify with Biggs and his GOP cohort in pressing for answers.

Among the many questions they will need to ask is this: How many other border-crossing migrants on the FBI’s terror watch list have breached U.S. defensive measures apparently faltering under the border crisis?

Todd Bensman is a Texas-based senior national security fellow for the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington D.C.-based research institute, and a writing fellow for the Middle East Forum. For nearly a decade, Bensman led counterterrorism-related intelligence efforts for the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Intelligence and Counterterrorism Division. Follow him on Twitter @BensmanTodd. Bensman worked for The Dallas Morning News, CBS, and Hearst Newspapers, covering the FBI, federal law enforcement and serving on investigative teams. He reported extensively on national security and border issues after 9/11 and worked from more than 25 countries in Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa. Bensman holds a master’s degree from the Naval Postgraduate School, a master’s degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, and a B.S. degree in journalism from Northern Arizona University.


How The U.S. Federal Government Fuels Child Smuggling And Trafficking

How The U.S. Federal Government Fuels Child Smuggling And Trafficking

I was part of a large political team in the Trump administration that tried to stop cartel-driven human smuggling and trafficking into the United States. We learned federal agencies and bureaucrats were more interested in preserving a broken system than preventing the abuse of children, and they were using your tax dollars to do so. The Biden administration continues to fight for that broken system, which also continues to put Americans at risk of great harm.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is statutorily responsible for handling the housing and resettlement of dependent foreign nationals who enter the United States, including so-called unaccompanied alien children, or UACs. A UAC is a child whom employees of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) encounter at a U.S. port of entry or along the border not in the custody of a verifiable parent or guardian.

Once DHS identifies a child as a UAC, that child is transferred to an appropriate private facility funded by HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). In theory, each child is then cared for by that ORR-funded facility until he or she can either be placed with an appropriate sponsor who is already in the United States (ideally, an actual family member with appropriate resources) or returned to his or her home country.

This is how the process is supposed to work, according to current federal law. What we found really happening was quite disturbing.

Mexican cartels have known for years that our southern border and immigration system could be manipulated for substantial profit. These cartels have developed an admittedly impressive business model that can get children and even adults from anywhere in the world into the United States by presenting them as children at our overwhelmed southern border.

For the right price, the cartels will transport customers or their human parcels to our southern border and present them to the Border Patrol as children. Some of these are actual innocent minors—and many of them are horrifically abused on their journey before they reach our border—but many are not innocent, and some are not even children.

Some are technically minors but also very violent members of Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13, or other violent gangs or criminal organizations that wreak havoc in our hemisphere. Others are adults but might appear young enough to pass as teenagers. Sometimes the cartels try to pass these individuals off as part of fictional family units.

You might think that DHS would conduct due diligence in every instance to determine the ages and identities of these individuals, but sadly, it does not. In our engagement on this subject during the Trump administration, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel refused to conduct any systematic inquiry of people who presented themselves as minors at the border, even when they had good reason to believe they were being given false information.

This does not mean CBP personnel never followed up in situations of concern, and some individuals who were adults pretending to be children were identified. But some CBP personnel balked at an across-the-board approach. To paraphrase a couple of the men and women who talked to us behind the scenes about this problem, the volume of border encounters was just too high, and management had prioritized speed over accuracy.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel also refused to receive such foreign individuals for temporary detention pending biometric and biographic data collection, so we could identify adults or bad actors. In theory, ICE could have been a huge asset here by receiving temporary custody of individuals whose identities or ages were uncertain and using their law enforcement and forensic resources to get some answers. But ICE career officials fought this, frequently citing resource limits, or even claiming it “wasn’t their job.”

In short, some at CBP and ICE were only too happy to rush potentially inappropriate people, including adults and criminals, out of their hands and to ORR-funded facilities that were intended to house non-criminal minors.

MS-13 and other gang members who cleared the DHS gauntlet and were able to infiltrate ORR’s child-filled facilities thanks to DHS’s negligence were essentially empowered to recruit for their gangs at taxpayer expense. They were housed and fed until their claimed 18th birthday (again, based solely on the alien’s original assertion of age at the point of detention).

At that point, they were released into the United States on their own recognizance instead of being remanded to ICE for removal from the United States. In essence, these criminal organizations were shifting housing, transportation, and recruitment costs to the American taxpayer because they could rely on the U.S. government to turn a blind eye and care for their operatives with no questions asked.

Beginning in the Obama administration, serious incident reports of actual or suspected gang activity—and other potential criminal or inappropriate activity at these facilities, including sexual assaults of these children by facility staff—were brushed under the rug by HHS instead of being referred to the Department of Justice for investigation and prosecution.

In 2020, we were able to determine that a large percentage of individuals who had been indicted by the Department of Justice in previous years for MS-13 homicides had been UACs under the supervision of ORR. Some had serious incident reports on file indicating gang affiliations. If DHS and HHS personnel had done their jobs, their murders might not have happened.

Both HHS and DHS were only too happy to have these incident reports ignored because their revelation would have exposed agency failure to get a handle on the problems in these facilities. While our DHS and HHS political leadership began to make a dent in restoring a meaningful referral process, it was a gargantuan task. It is unclear if the Biden administration is still making those referrals.

In addition to the safety and security issues within these facilities, ORR did—and still does—a horrendous job vetting potential UAC sponsors and fought every effort by the Trump administration to improve the sponsor vetting process. Sponsor applicants, many of whom were also illegally present in the United States, were required to complete a “Family Reunification Application,” which sought only pro forma information from applicants and not information about true fitness or capacity to care for a child.

There were also zero consequences for an applicant if he or she provided inaccurate or untruthful information. Failure to provide information did not necessarily prevent placement.

Also, despite having the total universe of federal resources at their fingertips, ORR employees used BackgroundChecks.com, a private-sector employment tool and not a law enforcement database, to see if potential sponsors had criminal records or other background issues. The bottom line was, it was easier to sponsor a UAC than it was to adopt a dog from an animal shelter.

When our team uncovered the true depth of the problem and told HHS that we needed to improve the sponsor vetting process to ensure the safety of unaccompanied alleged minors, we were fought with every ounce of the bureaucracy’s energy. We were told by career officials, for example, that any effort to find out more about potential sponsors would cost too much.

This turned out to be inaccurate, but also would be an irresponsible answer even in a fiscally responsible era. In our age of multi-trillion-dollar budgets and a $29 trillion national debt, it is downright insulting.

In 2020, the Trump administration instructed ICE’s Homeland Security and Investigations Division to conduct an audit of some of ORR’s UAC sponsor placements in fiscal year 2019 to try and get a sense of the fitness of existing sponsors. Horrifyingly, hundreds of UACs out of an overall sample of a few thousand could not be located or were no longer with the sponsors with whom they were originally placed. They were just gone. This was a sample of a much larger UAC population across the United States, which means the actual number of missing UACs was likely much, much higher.

Were these missing individuals really MS-13 members who went on to join fellow gang members? Were they sold into hard labor or sex slavery to pay off a debt to the cartels? Were they put on a plane and “recycled” as part of another cartel fake family unit? We ran out of time before we were able to find out, but the answer to these questions is likely all of the above.

In the first few weeks of the Biden administration, Trump administration efforts to prevent abuses of our immigration system, to improve the UAC sponsor vetting process, and shut down illicit revenue streams were pulled down, and the cartels breathed a sigh of relief.

Since then, the Biden administration has made it increasingly clear, through both action and inaction, that it does not take child smuggling and trafficking seriously, and is even willing to accept these as a cost of their open borders agenda. If anything, their total failure at the border is going to lead to thousands more bad actors entering with impunity and thousands more children disappearing.

If Americans really care about the health, safety, and welfare of the innocent children who are being smuggled and trafficked into the United States, our first step has to be to stop our federal government from being part of the problem and make it part of the solution.

John A. Zadrozny served as a Deputy Assistant to the President and Acting Chief of Staff at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services during the Trump Administration.


Biden Plans To Further Break The Border With Fraudulent Asylum Seekers

Biden Plans To Further Break The Border With Fraudulent Asylum Seekers

The window for public comments regarding the Biden administration’s proposed asylum rule closes this week, and it looks like at least some Americans understand the mischief.

“So wrong and deceitful!” wrote Dianna Key of the rule on the public forum for administrative rule making. Her comments were echoed last week by an immigration judge, who called it a “misleading and dishonest proposal.”

What numerous such commentators understand is that the rule would allow massive numbers of legally inadmissible migrants to enter the United States on the basis of meritless, and in some cases, fraudulent, asylum claims. To appreciate why, let’s start with a brief primer on “expedited removal,” which allows aliens apprehended at the U.S. southern border without valid entry documents to be immediately removed.

To protect asylees, Congress also requires that any alien who expresses a fear of persecution is interviewed by an asylum officer. If the alien has a “credible fear,” then, by law, “the alien shall be detained for further consideration of the application for asylum.” If no credible fear is found, the alien is ordered removed — although negative fear determinations are reviewable by an immigration judge.

Congress created expedited removal in 1996 in large part because inadmissible aliens were gaming the system — i.e., entering the United States on bogus asylum claims, then skipping the immigration hearing, not heeding an order of removal, or just taking advantage of the multilayered appeal and review opportunities available under prior law. (The legislative history is summarized in this congressional report.)

When People Are Sent Home, Fewer Come

When allowed to function, expedited removal works — as the Obama administration showed in 2014. Amid a surge of family units illegally crossing the border, the Department of Homeland Security stopped releasing the families and, consistent with expedited removal’s mandatory detention provision, began detaining them in residential centers pending adjudication of their asylum claims.

As word got out that the government wasn’t handing out “permisos” to enter the United States, the numbers of family units illegally crossing the border significantly decreased. But then came Dolly Gee, a leftist U.S. district court judge who oversees litigation concerning the Flores Settlement, a 1997 agreement that effectively prohibits the government from detaining unaccompanied minors apprehended at the border.

In Flores v. Holder, litigation initiated by activist groups to stop team Obama from detaining families, Gee applied the Flores Settlement to accompanied minors, forcing DHS to release the family units. Judge Gee’s preposterous ruling, affirmed by her fellow activists in robes on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, blew a hole in expedited removal. President Biden’s new asylum rule just blows up the whole thing.

Biden Would Not Properly Vet Asylum Seekers

As noted, asylum claims that meet the “credible fear” threshold undergo “further consideration.” This has always been done in immigration court, where government attorneys can contest suspect asylum claims with cross-examination and impeachment evidence.

That’s key, because the credible fear interview is a low threshold. As the Supreme Court recently noted in DHS v. Thuraissigiam, “[t]he applicant need not show that he or she is in fact eligible for asylum.” Most applicants with a positive credible fear determination are not ultimately awarded asylum, the court noted, as many abscond, withdraw their applications, or are denied asylum when their cases are vetted in immigration court.

But the left-wing activists in charge of Biden’s immigration policy don’t want asylum cases vetted. Under the asylum rule, the same U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) asylum officers who conduct credible fear interviews would be allowed to grant asylum.

They, not Department of Justice immigration judges, would do the “further consideration” in “non-adversarial hearings,” with no government attorney challenging the many meritless and fraudulent cases, although asylum applicants would be allowed to have counsel. Speaking of left-wing activists, before being installed as head of USCIS, Ur Jaddou was employed by an anti-enforcement outfit on the left called “America’s Voice.”

Indeed, USCIS co-wrote the proposed rule. In justifying it, the administration emphasizes that the law does not explicitly state that the “further consideration” must be conducted by immigration judges. But a rule that makes it more difficult to detect meritless and fraudulent asylum claims goes against the whole point of expedited removal.

Administration’s Real Goal

The administration reveals its real intention by proposing in the rule that anyone subject to expedited removal could be paroled (released) into the United States whenever “detention is unavailable or impracticable” (emphasis added), even before the credible fear interview. Never mind that under law, parole may be granted only on a “case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.”

In claiming a general parole authority that doesn’t exist, the administration is doing what it has done since Inauguration Day with its immigration policy — namely, dispensing with the law under the guise of prioritizing resources, in this case, to “prioritize use of its limited detention bed space.”

The administration stresses that the number of asylum cases has increased dramatically since 1996, creating backlogs in immigration court. Why not, the reasoning goes, clear the backlogs by allowing the credible fear interviewers to also grant asylum?

Well, for starters, the rule transforms expedited removal into expedited admission. Once it becomes final, it will incentivize even more inadmissible migrants to stream towards the border, enriching the cartels that control the smuggling routes.

Meanwhile, Americans who object to the rule will be attacked as “xenophobes,” and if the inevitable legal challenges ultimately reach the Supreme Court, Democrats will threaten to pack it. All of this, of course, will promote “unity.”



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