Del Rio, which I visited recently, is the epicenter of the Biden administration’s manufactured border mess. The news coverage of the failure does not do it justice. And it is clear that in this small Texas town, the groundwork is being laid for potential large-scale terror threats again.
Security-weary Americans have accepted the burdens placed on them with relative grace in the almost 20 years since 9/11, but there has been an unspoken commitment on the part of the federal government to a zero-tolerance approach for security failures. The Biden administration seems open to breaking that commitment in the name of a radical immigration agenda that includes letting hundreds of thousands of unidentified individuals across our border and into the country to points unknown at taxpayer expense. It is frustrating, insulting, and dangerous.
There were many eye-opening aspects of our trip, a discussion of which could fill pages. For example, the Biden administration has essentially withdrawn the Border Patrol from all border-related functions in Del Rio. Instead of fulfilling their mandatory national security mission, Border Patrol agents are reportedly caring for the illegal crossers in their facilities.
The Biden administration also is not following immigration law and is dispersing aliens around the country without requiring those claiming asylum to appear before immigration judges. According to one local relief worker we encountered who was helping aliens after they crossed the border, it is likely that Americans are subsidizing the bus and plane tickets that are facilitating this illegal diaspora. And the Mexican cartels are making $25 million per week in Del Rio alone from their smuggling and trafficking operations, according to USBP Del Rio Sector chief patrol agent Austin L. Skero II.
Residents and officials painted a disturbing picture of a porous border, with all indications that the world knows it is porous. They told of people entering illegally from all corners of the globe, not just the Americas. They told us they were seeing many people claiming to be Venezuelan, although we know the corrupt Chavez-Maduro regime has sold its passports to bad actors before, so who knows who they are. We heard tales of people crossing with iPads, lots of cash, and fluent English skills. These are not huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Many are well-funded opportunists, and our government knows nothing about them. Indeed, it seems as if they do not want to know anything about them.
It is also a fact that bad actors have tried to enter the U.S. illegally in recent months. Biden’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) even acknowledged that it captured two Yemeni nationals on a terror watchlist, before it deleted its own press release. Iranians, whose status is unknown, have also been captured in the Arizona desert. It is implausible that we have caught all bad actors who have crossed illegally into the United States over the last few months.
Sources also told us that they had seen and were told that foreign nationals were being allowed to enter the secure areas of airports and then boarded planes without passports. As a reminder, passports are not some obscure American paperwork requirement but the global standard for international travel security. We were initially skeptical, but we witnessed this security lapse firsthand on our day of departure.
At the Del Rio International Airport, we observed a family from Uganda attempting to board our flight to Dallas. The man and woman, who spoke fluent English, were unable to supply passports or any valid identification to the ticketing agent and wound up showing a pile of paperwork. Somehow, they were issued boarding passes. They were subsequently allowed to clear the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint with just their paperwork. One of my colleagues who questioned what we saw was verbally chastised by the TSA agent for daring to ask such questions.
Bluntly stated this lapse of security cuts against the very foundation for the existence of DHS and TSA — which, despite these and other shortcomings, is about to become even more insulated from accountability and responsibility by the Biden administration’s push for expanded collective bargaining for TSA employees. After all, both entities were reforged from pieces of other federal agencies in the wake of 9/11, which exposed catastrophic security vulnerabilities and forced a necessary homeland security realignment. Stopping major terror events is arguably DHS and TSA’s primary mission.
President Biden seems all too willing to sacrifice the well-being of Americans in the name of politics, but we cannot allow it. If these security vulnerabilities are not addressed — and if Mr. Biden’s DHS is not held to account immediately — we run the risk of seeing more and larger-scale terrorism events. It is arguably not a matter of if, but when.
• John A. Zadrozny is the Director of the Center for Homeland Security and Immigration at America First Policy Institute. He was former Acting Chief of Staff at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) during the Trump administration.