Joe Biden recently presided over a historic achievement, but unfortunately not an achievement worth celebrating.
According to the Washington Post, more illegal immigrants were arrested along the U.S.-Mexico border in fiscal year 2021 than ever before recorded. More than 1.7 million migrants were encountered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The numbers are astounding but not surprising. When the top officials in the federal government, including those responsible for border security, seek to dismantle enforcement at the border and implement policies like “catch and release,” of course more people will seek to enter the country illegally.
Upon taking office, the Biden Administration quickly sought to end policies that worked to restrict illegal entry into the United States. It immediately stopped construction of the border wall, even if doing so led to absurd outcomes like the portions of wall with open gates that I witnessed at the border earlier this year. It undid agreements with Central American countries, which sent illegal immigrants seeking asylum to those countries instead of ours. It stopped the “Remain in Mexico” policy, which required asylum seekers to wait in that country while the asylum claims moved forward.
As a result, we witness surging numbers of illegal immigrants, straining the capacity of our Border Patrol to intercept and detain them.
In August alone, 208,887 illegal immigrants were apprehended. That number was 317% higher than in the same month last year. That month was the second straight with more than 200,000 apprehensions.
Further, there are not necessarily consequences for breaking our laws thanks to the Biden Administration’s “catch and release” policies. Illegal immigrants are most often released after apprehension and told to appear for a hearing in the future, sometimes years later. Predictably, many do not show up.
Because our Border Patrol agents are dealing with the tens of thousands who submit to arrest voluntarily in order to be caught and released, the really bad actors involved in human trafficking, drug smuggling or crossing the border again after being deported for committing crimes find it easier to infiltrate the country.
In an insult to law-abiding American citizens, the Biden Administration does not even require COVID-19 testing for illegal immigrants before they are released into our country. This stands in sharp contrast to the vaccine mandates it intends to impose on Americans and the requirements that legal travelers show proof of vaccination. This double standard is an injustice to the people the Biden Administration is obligated to serve, as well as a threat to the health of the migrants themselves and the communities into which they are released.
Not only people are crossing the border illegally. So is contraband such as fentanyl, the dangerous synthetic opioid contributing to our country’s drug abuse crisis, of which more than 6,000 pounds were seized at the border since February. Methamphetamine and other illegal drugs crossing the border continue to be a problem as well.
More is likely to come. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has warned that October might bring 350,000 to 400,000 border apprehensions. One of the reasons why that extraordinary number might be reached is that the Biden Administration continues to mull ending Title 42 restrictions. The restrictions allow for quicker deportation of illegal immigrants due to the public health emergency caused by the coronavirus. Ending the use of Title 42 while other coronavirus restrictions continue would be yet another example of this administration treating illegal immigrants better than American citizens.
On his own, President Biden is unlikely to change his position at the border, but other factors may force his hand. Courts recently blocked the administration’s termination of the “Remain in Mexico” policy, requiring it to be reinstated.
This same policy could be codified into federal law by H.R. 1259, the REMAIN in Mexico Act. I cosponsored this legislation, introduced by Congressman Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., and signed a discharge petition calling for it to be brought to the floor of the House of Representatives.
Americans deserve an immigration system that provides security at our borders and admits migrants according to our laws in an orderly way. Almost every action taken by the Biden Administration since it assumed office has undermined this ideal. Predictably, the results are crisis and confusion, demanding that the president and the Department of Homeland Security reverse course.