- - Monday, February 15, 2021

Jeh Johnson, who headed the Department of Homeland Security under President Obama, has said that 1,000 apprehensions in a single day along the southwest border would be considered a “bad day.” Not only is he correct, but I recall his frustration vividly while serving as chief of the Border Patrol in 2016 as the illegal migration flow was reaching alarming numbers. By those standards, Mr. Johnson wouldn’t be having many good days at the moment.

In what can only be described as a massive self-inflicted wound, the Biden administration has swiftly, and without hesitation, taken a wrecking ball to America’s border security and enforcement capabilities — ending construction of the border wall; stopping lawful deportations; terminating agreements with our neighbors to the south that helped stanch asylum fraud into the U.S.; ending the Migrant Protection Protocols program, which was responsible for the end of catch and release; dismantling interior enforcement authorities, which will result in thousands of gang members and criminals being released into cities across the country; and promising free health care, expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and an amnesty to millions of illegal aliens currently in the U.S.  

He’s only been in office for a few weeks.

Currently, Border Patrol apprehensions of illegal aliens along the southern border have skyrocketed to roughly 3,500 per day, although the real number of illegal crossers, when taking into account those who turn back into Mexico to avoid apprehension and those who elude detection, is likely closer to 4,500 per day.

In January, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) apprehended almost 80,000 migrants trying to illegally enter the U.S., far surpassing what we encountered in January of 2020. At this rate we’ll exceed the 100,000 apprehensions mark per month by March, essentially turning back the clock to the humanitarian crisis of 2019.  

With a stroke of a pen, President Biden has thrust the country into another illegal migration crisis. 

Instead of helping the nation — that is not only desperately trying to recover from a deadly pandemic, but is also seeing an economic maelstrom strike its businesses and workers — his priorities have withdrawn and removed almost every tool and policy which provided the U.S. with the ability to effectively address illegal migration. 

And what is the Biden administration’s strategy to deal with the new crisis they created? To replace the tools and policies he swiftly removed? He has created task forces to review the migration issue.

After signaling the borders would open, President Biden is sending a really strong message to the migrants that “now is not the time to come.” 

The Biden administration’s actions are not only absurd but devoid of any meaningful understanding of what drives illegal migration and how the cartels and human smuggling organizations exploit the loopholes, our policies, and the migrants themselves. If your strategy consists of releasing those who illegally cross our border, protecting them from lawful deportation, and rewarding their continuing illegal behavior with free health care and amnesty –- why wouldn’t they continue to come? It’s not really complicated; if you encourage, incentivize and facilitate unlawful behavior, that’s exactly what you’ll get.

The Biden administration has rejected the repeated pleas from countless law enforcement experts, as well as the data and science behind border security, to address this crisis in a thoughtful and meaningful way. And now, our borders are less secure, our country less safe, and the mission of the men and women on the front lines of our nation’s borders is made more dangerous.

The only remaining authority holding back the current crisis level numbers from becoming catastrophic, is the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s order, known as Title 42 (T42), which gives CBP the authority to remove illegal aliens from the border expeditiously. Rather than being brought into CBP facilities, they are released back into Mexico.

But we’re already seeing cracks forming in this authority. For now, it’s holding, but when T42 falls — and it’s only a matter of when it does — the 4,500 a day will overwhelm our immigration system. Local border communities, as well as communities in the interior of the U.S., will be flooded with illegal aliens as catch and release will be the only alternative.

The Biden administration is playing a dangerous game by removing every effective tool and policy and putting their hope that T42 will remain in place long enough for them to figure out how to undo the crisis they’ve facilitated. They’re simply kicking the catastrophic crisis can down the road, but it’s already too late.

• Mark Morgan is the former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and a senior fellow at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

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