Just when you think the situation at the Southern border can’t get any worse, it does. Last week, Texas National Guardsman SPC Bishop E. Evans drowned attempting to save two migrants from drowning. It was later revealed the migrants “were involved in illicit transnational narcotics trafficking.” This tragic incident highlights a number of questions that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) needs to answer.
So, what is DHS going to do about the border crisis? With Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas testifying on the Hill, the DHS produced a 20-page memo outlining his six-point plan to manage the southern border, called the DHS Plan for Southwest Border Security and Preparedness. The memo provides no new ideas that are not already in place. Further, it appears to have been hastily cobbled together in response to concerns the federal government had no plan to replace Title 42, the act that empowers the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to remove illegal immigrants who cross the border and could be infected with COVID-19. This is not an adequate substitute for Title 42, however. When Title 42 ends, it is estimated that the number of illegal aliens entering this country daily could hit 18,000, more than double the current 8,000. The DHS Plan relies on Title 8 and other existing authorities, which, unlike Title 42, will allow those entering illegally a chance to file asylum claims, making it harder to remove them.
Why is the government rescinding Title 42? Under Title 42, 1.7 million illegals, the majority of asylum seekers apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border, have been expelled immediately back to Mexico or their country of origin, without the chance to file asylum claims. The administration has announced that Title 42 will end on May 23, as the CDC ruled that the pandemic emergency is over because COVID-19 cases have decreased and vaccines are widely available. But is this true? After all, the federal government is still appealing the decision to repeal the mask mandate on public transit, saying it is necessary to fight the pandemic. To see if the pandemic has really abated, my organization has submitted Freedom of Information Act requests to determine the number of illegal migrants who test positive and negative for COVID-19.
Is DHS outsourcing human trafficking? Most disturbingly, the plan also shovels more money at non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including Southwest Key Programs and BCFS, to ferry illegal immigrants throughout the country. This operation has been compared to a human trafficking program. This is ironic, since many of the same people who complained of how dehumanizing “kids in cages” were during the previous administration seem to have no problem with this program, which is far more dehumanizing and dangerous. For example, there were at least 33 incidents of alleged sexual abuse in a one-month period in 2021.
Where is the money going? According to media reports, most of the money goes to at least half a dozen NGOs. These groups ostensibly offer help with housing, educational, medical, and other services but DHS has provided little information on the details of where these funds are being spent, another area my organization is exploring with our FOIA requests.
Where are the illegal immigrants being sent? In 2021, at least 71,617 illegal immigrants were dropped off in nearly 20 cities including locales as far from the Mexican border as Atlanta, Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia. However, these cities are probably not the final destinations, which are unknown.
Are local officials being notified when migrants are being sent to their areas? This program is incredibly controversial, as the local communities they are sent to are in the dark about the whole operation. Outside of the federal government, which isn’t telling, no one knows where these migrants end up. Local sheriffs, citing potential criminal and terrorism concerns, have demanded that they be given notice when illegal immigrants are sent to their counties, but so far this has not happened. My organization has made Freedom of Information Act requests here, too, to find out how many migrants are being shipped around the country, where they are going, what organizations are involved, and how much federal money is being spent.
Why are there so many unanswered questions about DHS’s plans for the border? The chaos on the southern border shows the federal government is either incredibly incompetent or is deliberately fomenting the chaos. Congressman Jim Jordan, in his opening statement at a Judiciary Committee hearing, came out in favor of deliberately fomenting chaos.
"The chaos on our southern border is not an accident. It's deliberate, it's on purpose, it's by design. President Biden on Day One said there'll be a moratorium on deportations, he ended Remain in Mexico, he terminated agreements with Northern Triangle countries and he stopped building the wall. Those policies, done intentionally, have led to all kinds of bad outcomes… Americans want legal immigration. President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas want illegal immigration. They want illegal migrants to come, stay and never go home. Now, the secretary won't say that. In fact, he says everything's just fine. He said it yesterday in two congressional hearings. He said it last September. Quote, 'The border is secure,' he told us.'"
Eliminating Title 42 will only make things worse. So will the DHS plan and its increase in funding to ferry illegal immigrants throughout the nation. Which, if Congressman Jordan is right, is all part of the administration’s plan.
Adam Turner is the Director of the Center to Advance Security in America.
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