US Border Crisis – Grabs National Attention
A fierce exchange on Capitol Hill last week saw Rep. Chip Roy, R-TX, slamming Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for the historic spike in illegal immigration and chaos unfolding on the U.S. southern border, driving home to Americans the full implications of the border crisis.
The hearing also focused the spotlight on a once obscure law known as Title 42, federal legislation aimed at halting the spread of the corona virus that was put into place by former President Trump at the start of the pandemic.
Title 42, invoked in 2020 as a public emergency health order, authorizes U.S. border officials to promptly deport illegal immigrants. Previously, these individuals would have been processed at Border Patrol facilities and evaluated for eligibility for asylum that might allow them to remain in the United States.
Under Title 42, migrants are returned to Mexico and other places of origin within a matter of hours. Almost two million illegal migrants have been expelled since March 2020. Many have been caught trying to cross the border multiple times.
Now this emergency legislation, set to expire on May 23, has become a flashpoint in the immigration debate.
Progressives have been calling on Biden to end Title 42 since shortly after he took office. As early as February 2021, 60 Democrat members of Congress wrote to the administration demanding that it “safely and effectively end all expulsions under title 42 … as soon as practicable and ensure that migrants can access our nation’s asylum system.”
“A growing number of Democrats up for re-election, on the other hand, have joined Republicans in criticizing the administration’s plans to wind down the policy,” reported the Associated Press, “and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is under pressure to put it up for a vote.”
The Biden administration tried twice to terminate the deportation order earlier, declaring through the CDC that the “waning of Covid-19” no longer requires the Title 42 emergency measure. Ironically, the same administration is asking the courts to overturn the ending of mask mandates due to “persisting Covid-19 variants.”
Intense opposition from GOP legislators, joined by several Democrat congressmen, have defeated efforts to rescind Title 42 until now. Legislators opposing its termination succeeded in pushing through several amendments that extended its timeframe.
Texas Democrat Rep. Henry Cuellar says no border community wants Title 42 lifted and accuses the Biden administration of “listening to immigration advocates’ over frontline agents and sending mixed messages,” the Daily Mail reported.
“Lifting the rule, critics say, will lead to a collapse of operational control along the southwest border,” attested the New York Times.
Bipartisan demands from legislators that Title 42 remain in place for the time being “has led to hand-wringing in the White House over whether lifting the order on May 23 could lead to losing control of the House and Senate next year,” the Times article said.
“According to a Morning Consult/Politico poll taken in early April, 55 percent of voters somewhat or strongly oppose the decision to end the policy, including 88 percent of Republicans and 27 percent of Democrats,” wrote Politico.
“That represents the biggest backlash to any Biden administration policy among dozens tracked by Morning Consult since January 2021.”
Outrage Over Terror Suspects at Loose in the Country
Rep. Chip Roy, who has led delegations to the Texas-Mexico border—most recently on April 25—and rallied against the Biden administration’s open border policies, blasted Mayorkas in Congress over the steady flow of people pouring into Texas and the U.S. under his watch.
“There have been over one million-plus individuals put into proceedings or released into the United States on your watch,” Roy said to Mayorkas, as reported by Fox News. “I’ve asked multiple Border Patrol personnel … if we double, triple, quadruple the CBP (Center for Border Control) budget, would that one million number go down and they categorically said no, it would go up. Do you agree? Yes or no.”
Mayorkas hedged. “I’m not sure I understand your question.”
“Will you testify under oath that we have operational control [of the border], yes or no?”
“Yes, we do,” Mayorkas said.
Roy then went on to define what “operational control” means according to federal statute. The term, he said, signifies “the prevention of all unlawful entries into the United States including entries by terrorists, other non-lawful aliens, instruments of terrorism, narcotics and other contraband.”
“Do you stand by your testimony that we have operational control in light of this definition?” Roy pressed Mayorkas.
“I do,” replied the DHS secretary, adding that his predecessor in the Trump administration “would have said the same thing.”
“The former secretary would have at least had a basis for saying that we have some sort of control of the border!” Roy retorted. “But the fact is we currently have people flowing across the border, including dangerous narcotics and dangerous terrorists.”
He then referred to a letter he received from DHS confirming that 42 people on the national terrorist watch-list had been released into the U.S. under Mayorkas and that DHS doesn’t know where they are.
Mayorkas insisted this wasn’t true. “Congressman, are you actually interested in the facts and the law?” he challenged.
Roy said, “I am reading you the law and I’m telling you the facts.”
Photographs of Border Crime and Atrocities
Roy then confronted the DHS secretary with photos of the horrors occurring at the U.S.–Mexico border and accused the Department of Homeland Security secretary of “ignoring the actual truth” of the border crisis. He presented the House Judiciary Committee hearing with photos of dead bodies, “mobile morgues” and other tragedies at the border caused by drug dealers, kidnappers and other violent criminals.
“Mr. Secretary, do you know what this is? This is a mobile morgue, a body trailer needed by counties in south Texas overwhelmed by dead migrants,” Roy said to Mayorkas. “That particular trailer is filled with twenty-seven bodies. How about the dead bodies found by migrants?” Roy asked, brandishing additional blown-up photos. Is this ‘compassion’?
“How about the ranchers, who had to walk out of their door and this is what they faced? People with rocks threatening a rancher in south Texas…ranchers forced to bring their dogs out to scare away the people with rocks in order to save themselves.”
The congressman added that there are “houses being attacked, you got livestock dead on the side, because we’ve got ranches wide open (without protection).”
“And how about the lost voices for the tens of thousands of Americans dying from fentanyl (a narcotic that when taken in high doses or mixed with alcohol causes respiratory failure and death)?” Roy pressed on, displaying posters with faces of victims. “Faces, faces of Americans, faces of Americans across this country dying because of fentanyl pouring into our country because of your policies that you know full well.”
Roy accused Mayorkas and the Biden administration of “encouraging cartels to come here, harming Texas and harming this country. You know it and you’re ignoring the actual truth!”
“Chip Roy is stating the obvious and empirical fact that every Texan already knows, especially those that live within a couple hours of the border,” Wade Miller, executive director of Citizens for Renewing America, told The Center Square. “The United States of America does not have operational control of our southern border. That’s a fact, not an opinion.”
Border agents estimate one million people who’ve evaded capture are already in the U.S. illegally with no way of knowing who they are, The Center Square report said.
Representative Ken Buck (R., Colo.) also issued a sharp rebuke of Mayorkas during the hearing, according to Fox News.
“Many of my constituents have asked whether you will be impeached when Republicans gain control next year.” Buck said. “They don’t believe that you’ve committed a high crime, and they don’t believe you’ve committed a misdemeanor. My constituents want you impeached because they believe you’ve committed treason. They believe you’re a traitor. Aren’t you ashamed for what you’ve done to this country?”
“What you have just said is so profoundly offensive on so many different levels,” Mayorkas responded. “I won’t ask you for an apology.” He went on to insist that he was “incredibly proud of my service to this country… more than 20 years in the civilian corps, as a federal prosecutor, and as a member of the Department of Homeland Security.” [Mayorkas served in the same capacity as DHS secretary under the Obama-Biden administration.]
In another heated exchange on Capitol Hill during a hearing conducted by the House Homeland Security Committee, reported on by the New York Times, Rep. Clay Higgins, R-LA, told Mayorkas, “I think America needs you to own this thing, good sir. Speak to the American people and own this thing. We’re losing our country down there. We need you to resign.”
Record-Breaking Number of Illegal Crossings
Republicans have been accused by Democrats of scaring up” a border crisis as a midterm election ploy, yet the facts speak for themselves. “March set a record for the most illegal crossings in a single month in decades: 221,303,” the Times article attested. That number breaks a 22-year record.
In March 2000, 98 percent of illegal immigrants were Mexican nationals. Last month, a record-breaking 39.5 percent were “long distance” migrants, meaning they were not from Mexico or “Northern Triangle” countries (Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador).
Migrants far and wide are receiving a clear message: It’s easy to enter the United States illegally. And that message will bolstered by the termination of Title 42 in May. Without this law, officials expect a migrant ‘tsunami.’ The Department of Homeland Security says it is preparing for up to 18,000 daily encounters.
“What we’re getting coming through here are the prior deports and criminals that have zero chance of ever getting any kind of asylum or paperwork to stay,” a Border Control officer told National Review. “The officer, who asked not to be named, mentioned violent robberies and assaults on women and children amid ‘an unprecedented flow of migrants,’ the article continued.
The White House insists that Congress will have to intervene if it wants to delay the rollback past May 23.
“The CDC has the authority to determine when the conditions exist to lift Title 42 — that was given to them by Congress. If Congress were to want to extend that, they need to take action. It’s not an executive authority from the White House,” Press secretary Jen Psaki said during her April 20 press conference.
A number of court challenges, however, could determine the interim fate of the public health order prior to a congressional vote.
States Sue to Stop Administration From Ending Title 42
21 Republican-led states filed a lawsuit earlier in April to stop the Biden administration from ending Title 42. Attorneys for the plaintiffs asked U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays, a President Donald Trump appointee, to issue a temporary restraining order “against any implementation” of the policy’s termination before May 23.
Summerhays, who sits on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, issued a 14-day temporary restraining order blocking border authorities from phasing out Title 42 while he continued to weigh the states’ arguments.
During a status conference last week, Summerhays said the 21 states, led by Arizona, Louisiana and Missouri, had established a “likelihood of success” in arguing that the order to terminate Title 42 on May 23 did not follow procedural requirements, CBS News reported.
The latest state to join the legal opposition to terminating Title 42 is Texas, which filed a lawsuit on Friday. It, too, charged the Biden administration with failing to follow required procedures to end the policy. It argued that Texas should not have to pay the price in being unfairly forced to support social services for illegal migrants, including health care.
The judge in that case has yet to issue a ruling.
Congressmen to Mayorkas: ‘Your Actions Have Knowingly Endangered Americans’
Secretary Mayorkas told CBS earlier this week that the agency has been preparing for months for a post-Title 42 scenario in which the southern border might be overrun, and that it can handle the anticipated surge.
DHS has already deployed additional resources to the border to deal with it, including hundreds of personnel, transportation, medical resources, and new processing facilities, Mayorkas said. He issued a 20-page memo ahead of the Capitol hearings formalizing those plans.
But critics note that the DHS secretary had previously dismantled almost every aspect of immigration enforcement put into place by the Trump administration, and that his memo does nothing to remedy the gutting of vital enforcement measures.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky called the memo’s provisions “laughable” as he spoke on the Senate floor about the administration not being prepared to handle the expected increase in migrant crossings.
He cited the warning of Center for Border Control (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement that “they could run out of funds as early as early July, if migration skyrockets like projections show will happen once Title 42 is lifted,” Daily Mail reported.
A group of 133 Republicans in Congress have authored a letter to Mayorkas, questioning his ‘suitability for office’ as they blasted the administration for “dismantling security” at the southern border – including ending Title 42.
“Your actions have willingly endangered American citizens, undermined the rule of law and our nation’s sovereignty,” charged the letter, led by Border Security Caucus co-chair Brian Babin of Texas and Republican Study Committee Chair Jim Bank of Indiana.
Some examples of the administration’s “defanging” of immigration law include halting construction of the southwest border wall, and attempting to rescind the Migrant Protection Protocols (MMP), often referred to as “Remain in Mexico.” MMP allowed border agencies to send migrants seeking asylum back to Mexico to await trial or other immigration proceedings.
Other examples of encroachments on law enforcement include the multiple roadblocks imposed by DHS, preventing border officials and ICE agents from carrying out their duties.
Before taking any enforcement action at all, writes the Center for Immigration Studies, “ICE must consider migrants’ age; how long they’ve been here; if some kind of emotional problem or mental condition contributed to their criminality; if they were the victim of or witness to a crime themselves which might mitigate the severity of their illegal behavior; and the effect removal will have on them or their families.
These extensive brakes on immigration law enforcement exempt a vast majority of illegals from being detained and/or deported.
The gutting of enforcement measures also includes ending the levying of fines and penalties on undocumented migrants who ignore court orders to return to their native home; and cancelling thousands of pending immigration cases—which in effect gives the illegal immigrants in question freedom to blend into American society with impunity.
The lawmakers cited several of the above examples of the dismantling of law enforcement measures in their letter.
The agency’s inaction on [the Migrant Protocols] “demonstrates your willingness to embrace an open-borders agenda that undermines America’s safety,” the congressmen protested to Mayorkas. “You have been specifically instructed by the court to implement the protocol in good faith or take new agency action that complied with the law,” it continues. “You have done neither.”
Signers of the letter include the top three ranking Republicans; House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA), who is leading a delegation to the southern border the coming week, as well as Republican Whip Steve Scalise (Louisiana), and House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (NY).
Department Of Homeland Security Creates New ‘Disinformation’ Board
Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas announced the creation of its Disinformation Governance Board (DGB) last week, saying its goal is the countering of “disinformation coming from Russia, China and Iran,” and rebutting misleading information aimed at migrants hoping to travel to the U.S.-Mexico border.
He cited, as an example, phony information that is reaching Haitian communities that tells them the border is open (which it largely is, and will be even more so after Title 42 is abolished.)
Republicans have since launched criticisms of the new board, citing concerns that it will target conservatives and police free speech amid growing censorship and silencing of dissenting opinions in the country.
As an example of the chilling of free speech, critics noted that DHS joined the FBI in releasing “terrorism bulletins” warning that allegations of election fraud in the 2020 election and the capitol “riots” on Jan. 6, 2021 could embolden “domestic terrorists.”
Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, compared the Disinformation Board to the “Ministry of Truth” from George Orwell’s novel “1984,” that depicts a rigidly totalitarian society. In Orwell’s novel, the Ministry of Truth is tasked with determining which facts and beliefs are to be banned as lies.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., echoed Gabbard’s comments on Twitter, calling the board an “Orwellian scheme,” and vowing to introduce legislation to have the new ‘Disinformation’ board defunded.
Mayorkas rejected the Orwellian comparison, insisting on NBC’s Meet the Press that the board will work on ways to address disinformation “in a way that does not infringe on free speech, or on civil liberties.”
He clarified that the board is an internal working group “that will gather best practices to address the disinformation threat from foreign state adversaries and cartels.” He added that the board does not have “operational authority” and it will not monitor American citizens.
Republicans and conservatives were outspoken about the sinister implications of a Disinformation Governance Board. “You cannot have a ‘Ministry of Truth’ in this country. We’re not going to let Biden get away with this one. So we will be fighting back,” Florida Governor Ron Desantis said at a news conference.
“When you’re not doing well, you have two options: You can try to do better. Or you can try to silence your critics. The Biden Administration is doing the latter,” Desantis said.
“By creating the DGB, the U.S. government is creating a crisis monitor with the dial permanently set to “existential threat,” a Wall Street Journal opinion piece noted. “No one inside the board will have the incentive—or the courage—to dial it down.”
“The dangers of the DGB will be amplified if it becomes the tool of partisan political actors. And it already has,” the op-ed pointed out. “The agency’s executive director, Nina Jankowicz, has written that America’s “information landscape” includes “declining trust in the media,” implying that distrust and criticism of mainstream media is a product of disinformation at work.
She has said that “unless we mitigate our own political polarization, we will continue to be an easy target for any malign actor—Russian or Iranian, foreign or domestic—to manipulate.”
“Yes, you read that right,” the WSJ article told readers with irony. “We must all fall in line because of the many grave threats out there—domestic as well as foreign. Incorrect political opinions become a national-security threat.
“The DGB already looks frighteningly similar to the KGB.”