Razor-wire fencing has been erected along the El Paso section of the Rio Grande, backed by 400 Texas National Guardsmen, stationed in front of a row of Humvees, and lined with signs that read, “Do not cross here.” Liberal politicians such as Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema are suddenly worried about the southern border, and Democrats are urging President Joe Biden, who has avoided the border like it’s an unscripted press conference, to make a visit. CNN is writing stories about it; even NBC dispatched a reporter to the border to tell its viewers that El Paso is “overwhelmed and in chaos” and that some migrants attempting to cross had no interaction with U.S. immigration authorities — “They just walked right in.”
The southern border has been a mess for two years, so why this recent fuss? A policy aimed to stop the spread of COVID that was invoked by the Trump administration early in the pandemic to seriously hinder the flow of illegal immigration at the southern border, called Title 42, after the part of the U.S. code that authorizes such action, was scheduled to be lifted on Wednesday. In the past three years, the policy has successfully expelled migrants over 2.5 million times at the U.S.–Mexican border.
The expiration of this policy has been known for months, and word has spread throughout the world that the border, already ridiculously porous, will be even more easily traversed once the measure is terminated. This has had an all-too-predictable effect on those seeking amnesty, and authorities projected in late November that the surge would more than double, with a possible high of 14,000 per day.
Migrants are gathered in the thousands in Mexico’s Ciudad Juárez, awaiting the official lifting of the edict. El Paso has been the vortex of the crisis. Wrote Anna Giaritelli in the Washington Examiner, “[T]he 678,000 residents of El Paso have seen 84,082 immigrants released into their town between Aug. 22 and Dec. 11.” The mayor of El Paso reckons that there are 20,000 more on the other side of the river just waiting for the go signal; meanwhile, his city scrambles to accommodate the thousands of migrants already there, opening emergency shelters at churches to offer relief to those currently braving temps in the 20s and 30s while sleeping on the ground near the bus station, among other locations. The Association Press reports that 5,000 are staying in 30 shelters in Tijuana, Mexico, waiting for the ruling to expire.
Biden’s immigration “system” has permitted almost 5 million migrant encounters in the past three years, millions of whom have gained entry to the country and a great number of those dispersed throughout the interior.
The Biden administration has wanted to do away with Title 42 for months. In April, it announced plans to end the provision but was blocked by a federal judge in Louisiana. But in November, U.S. District Judge Emmett Sullivan, calling Title 42 “arbitrary and capricious,” said the policy must be lifted by Dec. 21, which was Wednesday. Nineteen Republican-led states, however, attempted to get the courts to intervene and keep the policy in place, but last Friday, Dec. 16, they were rebuffed by the D.C. Court of Appeals, which said they had waited too long to complain.
The 19 states took their case to the Supreme Court on Monday, predicting a “crisis of unprecedented proportions” and claiming they would suffer “irreparable harm” as they bear “the consequences of unlawful immigration” were the policy lifted. Wrote they, “Such a stay is particularly appropriate given the enormous harms that would otherwise be inflicted upon the States and further because there is not the slightest indication that DHS could ever meaningfully remedy those harms after they have occurred.”
Chief Justice John Roberts granted an administrative stay on Monday, requiring the administration to make known its plans by end of day Tuesday. The administration admitted disruption will occur with the lifting of the measure but insisted that the health-related policy had outlived its usefulness. The administration asked the court, if it rules against the 19 states before Friday, to keep Title 42 in effect until Dec. 27, conveniently after Christmas, when the “invasion” news can fly beneath the radar of casual citizens, engrossed in holiday doings.
As of this writing, the court has not issued its ruling.
Whatever happens to Title 42 — and its lifting is considered inevitable — the border remains broken. Following the immediate surge of crossers upon lifting of the provision, the situation will return to the status quo ante, in which those not turned away immediately will be referred to the immigration court system, where the backlog is so severe that a single case can take years to adjudicate. Migrants waiting for their summons will be processed into the interior of the country, where, when finally summoned, they may return to keep their court date but probably will not.
This is the “system” that has been in operation since Biden took office. That “system” has permitted almost 5 million migrant encounters in the past three years, millions of whom have gained entry to the country and a great number of those dispersed throughout the interior. That “system” has allowed Mexican drug cartels free rein on large portions of the border, and it has been the catalyst in the flush of fentanyl and methamphetamine that contributes to the present opioid crisis. That “system” has stressed the Border Patrol to the breaking point, not to mention the border towns and cities whose services have been severely challenged. That “system” has endangered migrants as well, as thousands have undertaken a dangerous journey of thousands of miles, often put at the mercy of cruel cartel handlers, up through Mexico to towns on the border.
And that “system” is intentional. As I wrote earlier in The American Spectator:
Biden on day one ended the building of President Donald Trump’s wall, in a splashy ceremony, metaphorically throwing open the southern border. He has, since taking office, attempted to eliminate deterrents and lessen restrictions to mass immigration. He terminated agreements with Northern Triangle countries — Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador — to handle asylum requests before migrants got to our border with Mexico. He pulled Border Patrol personnel off drug-interdiction duty and transferred them to processing jobs — of illegals and asylum seekers. He’s cut way back on deporting illegals currently in the country and has been continually attempting to neuter … [a] program that … effectively cinched the flow of illegals from the south — “Remain in Mexico.”
And no one in his administration has ever really explained what its border strategy is, including the border czarina, Vice President Kamala Harris.
How blasé the administration is about the border crisis can be seen in the omnibus bill — the $1.7 trillion travesty now before Congress. That monstrosity directs nothing to border security. It allocates money for the border, all right, but the millions it is sending south are for “border management” and are prohibited from being used for border-security purposes. In other words, more money to process illegals; no money to curtail their flow into the country.
Many reasons have been proffered for the administration’s failure on the border — from bolstering Democrat voting rolls, to allowing the situation to get so bad that Republicans are forced into some sort of mass amnesty deal, to making penance for President Barack Obama’s deportation record.
Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal suggests that the reason is incompetence.
The crime wave in major cities, the highest inflation in decades, the voluntary disabling of the American energy sector, and the evacuation of Afghanistan, among other events, suggest that he might be on to something.
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