"President Biden and the people he appointed to key positions in his administration have pursued the most radical open-borders policies in the history of any sovereign nation, and these new numbers bear that out.”
~Dan Stein, President of the Federation for American Immigration Reform
Illegal Immigration on the Rise: 2021 in Review
The rate of illegal immigration has metastasized in America within the past two years. At an alarming rate, the nation has become flooded with illegal entry by migrants hailing from Mexico, South America, and Central America, in addition to many flying in from a host of other countries abroad. Following President Trump’s term in office and the cancellation of finishing the construction to the new border wall, it quickly became evident that the rate of unlawful immigration soared to new levels. This is constantly becoming more of a grave threat to tax-paying Americans who are forced to shoulder the burden of added expense to pay greater taxes on the many illegal aliens housed in federal detention facilities. Many of these illegal aliens are held in cramped, understaffed facilities with dwindling resources as they await their day in court for violating immigration laws. Once released into the U.S., many of those scheduled to appear in court never attend their hearing and live out their days in the country under an invisible veil of criminal illegal status. This bleak circumstance was the norm under both Republican and Democrat administrations pre-2016, until the Trump Administration reversed many of these self-inflicting policies, such as “catch and release”—the process of apprehending illegal migrants at the border and releasing them into select communities in the U.S. without holding them in detention—while at the same time introducing provenly successful measures to curb the negative affects imposed on the nation by illegal immigration.
A prime example being the “Stay in Mexico” mandate, originally known as the “Migrant Protection Protocols” (MPP), which required illegal aliens seeking asylum to be sent to Mexico as the proceedings for their immigration court date progressed through the legal system. It was applied to all individuals who entered illegally by way of Mexico. This was created as part of Trump’s immigration policy in January 2019 and administered by the Department of Homeland Security, only allowing those whose claims were found to be meritorious by an immigration judge to be given asylum in the U.S. By contrast, “those determined to be without valid claims will be removed from the U.S. to their country of nationality or citizenship”, according to the text of the policy. This mandate derives from Section 235 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) which provides guidelines on the inspection of illegal aliens and the handling of aliens not entitled to admission into the U.S. The Stay in Mexico policy was abruptly attacked by the Biden Administration, which pushed for a stay to ensure that the policy would not be re-enforced in January 2021. After being challenged by a district court in Texas, the federal stay to deny the re-enforcement of the Stay in Mexico policy was rejected by both the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court and the U.S. Supreme Court, and as a result, the current administration is required by law to re-enforce the policy against asylum seekers.
Despite the preservation of this policy, much of the progress made under the Trump Administration to drastically reduce illegal border crossings has been completely upended. With the Trump border wall having been within three weeks of completion, after 458 miles of the barrier was constructed along the U.S.-Mexican border, the Biden administration sought to sabotage the process by halting construction and existing contracts. This was part of a hastily signed executive order within a batch of policies issued unilaterally by Joe Biden on day one of assuming office in January 2021. As a result of the areas left exposed by the failure to finish the wall, the United States has seen unprecedented surges in illegal crossings from migrants arriving in droves through caravans and trucks.
Just recently, an abandoned truck was discovered in Texas that found 48 deceased migrants smuggled over the border from Mexico, underscoring the grave humanitarian threat posed by Biden’s open-border mindset. Contrary to what DHS officials in the Biden administration have conveyed last year, the United States has experienced the highest rates of apprehension at the southern border in 20 years, with over 1.5 million people crossing or attempting to cross the border in 2021. This, according to an Annual Report by American Immigration Council, which cites that U.S. border patrol agents were forced to expel and deport over 1 million migrants, including a mass expulsion of Haitian migrants that sought entry into the country.
Using Title 42, a measure passed under President Trump, DHS officials worked tirelessly to deport thousands of Haitian migrants alone, with the 20,000th migrant flown out of the country between January 2021 and February 2022. About 2/3 of the migrants deported by plane and sent back to Haiti were done so under the conditions of Title 42, which was formed as a safety measure during the Covid-19 pandemic to prevent any massive spread of the virus by unvetted foreign aliens. The measure proactively sends the migrants to their country of origin as quickly as possible, bypassing any pleas for asylum. As of September 2021, around 8,000 Haitians were sent back to Mexico by ground transportation and 5,000 were awaiting processing by border patrol agents. Since Title 42 was enacted, about 23% of all Haitian migrants encountered at the border were deported under the measure. Fueling much of the urgency for this spike in illegal border crossings from Haiti was the chaotic political upheaval that saw their president deposed from power in July 2021, while shortly after being ravaged by an earthquake and tropical storm.
Invasion at the Border by the Numbers
Based on the data of rising border encounters, single adults made up over half of all individuals apprehended in 2021, while over 13,000 unaccompanied children were expelled under Title 42. The Biden administration reportedly struggled to expel migrants were incapable of being sent directly to Mexico, in part because the Mexican government prevented the U.S. from deporting any migrant who did not come from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, or El Salvador. If a person arrives to the U.S. illegally, then under the requirements of Title 42, DHS can only expel that person if (1) “their home country (or a third country) agrees to accept them”, and (2) “if ICE has sufficient resources to both detain the person and expel them by air within a short period of time after they entered the country.”
Under Biden, DHS officials struggled mightily to expel certain migrants that fell under Title 42’s requirements, and capacity-wise, were often overwhelmed in the face of the surge in newly arriving aliens. Due in large part to Biden’s open-border policy proposals on the campaign trail prior to the 2020 election and self-sabotage of provenly effective safeguards to dispel illegal immigration, such as the Remain in Mexico and Title 42 policies, Biden’s DHS saw some of the most severe surges in illegal border crossings in 2021. The country saw a large increase in asylum seekers from Brazil, Nicaragua, Cuba, Ecuador, and Venezuela, many of whom were allowed to have asylum in the U.S. due to Biden’s misuse of Title 42 and failure to enact proactive measures to curb the rise in illegal crossings.
With the staggering increase of over 1 million new illegal migrants to the U.S. in 2021 comes a devasting financial impact to U.S. taxpayers, as costs in new taxes spurred by illegal immigration entries rose to $9.4 billion since 2020, according to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). FAIR is a conservative-leaning group that provides empirical analyses to immigration levels in the U.S., granting observers with an informative assessment of how the issue of illegal immigration impacts the nation. In their study, FAIR revealed that an estimated 15.5 million illegal immigrants currently reside in the country, which is an increase from 14.5 million in 2020. Other estimates have consistently held the illegal alien population to be at 11 million. But immigration hawks have expressed skepticism at the legitimacy of this, following reports an unprecedented surge of crossings at the border last year.
The states with the most densely populated illegal immigration numbers are, California (3.3 million), Texas (2.2 million), Florida (1.2 million) and New York (1.1 million). With the $9.4 billion rise in the tax rate spurred by illegal immigration, this puts the net fiscal burden that this issue poses to be at $143.1 billion. Two developments that are enabling this surge in illegal border crossings is the country reverting back to normalcy following an end to pandemic restrictions on the economy and the failed policy decisions of the Biden administration, which as reiterated earlier in my article, have rolled back a host of effective immigration policies under President Trump.
In critiquing the first development on the post-covid economy, FAIR’s report spotlights the reoccurring issue of illegal migrants occupying cheap forms of labor at the expense of new jobs being taken by American workers. The report provides that, "businesses are once again hiring, and many unscrupulous employers are using this as an opportunity to turn to reliably cheap labor to undercut the market and make up for lost profits resulting from economic shutdowns stemming from the pandemic," the report says. "These unethical hiring practices occur even though millions of Americans remain unemployed or underemployed."
And with the second development, Biden’s tarnishing of Trump-era immigration policies, FAIR goes so far as to assert that the administration has essentially eliminated the mission of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), halting construction on the border wall (despite the immense progress made and being within three weeks of completion), and imposing measures that either directly or indirectly encouraged illegal immigration. Examples of Biden’s reckless immigration policies include, deconstructing the “Remain in Mexico” policy, promising amnesty for the many illegal immigrants already in the country (DACA recipients included) as part of a misguided immigration reform proposal, turning a blind eye to a record number of apprehensions for those on the terror watch list and continued designations of Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
Underscoring much of the frustration that many Americans have in the collective failure displayed at the border by executive branch officials, FAIR President Dan Stein states, "President Biden and the people he appointed to key positions in his administration have pursued the most radical open-borders policies in the history of any sovereign nation, and these new numbers bear that out. If not for the COVID pandemic, which forced the administration to keep Title 42 in place last year, the additional influx and costs to American taxpayers would have been far greater."
Conclusion: Forecasting Biden’s Border Policies into 2022
In closing, the numbers on the crossings and apprehensions at the southern border look bleak. This, as the Biden Administration continues to double-down on its refusal to abide by Trump-era laws such as Title 42 and the Remain in Mexico policy. So troublesome and problematic this refusal to enforce border laws against a substantial increase in illegal migrants has become, that the U.S. Supreme Court has been forced to wade in on the Remain at Mexico policy in the past and is expected to again render a ruling in the coming week prior to its summer recess. The current case that the Court is considering questions whether Biden has the legal authority to end the Remain in Mexico policy that has required over 70,000 migrants to wait in Mexico in refugee camps as their court hearing dates are scheduled. Biden had suspended the program in January 2021, only to be forced to reinstate the policy in December 2021, following lawsuits from the states of Texas and Missouri, and a subsequent Court ruling mandating that the law be exercised. The conservative majority on the Court is poised to render a decision that upholds Remain in Mexico.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and other Biden Administration must relinquish their reckless refusal to enforce the law against illegal aliens at the border. Biden’s steps to reimplement the dangerous Obama-era policy of “catch and release” is akin to pouring gas on an already raging fire. Next to this, granting asylum in the U.S. to thousands of unvetted illegal aliens is a poorly misguided alternative to having them remain in Mexico to await their hearing. Title 42 is a fair and proactive measure that rightfully sends many aliens back to their country of origin by plane or by bus. Such policies ensure that the United States does not deteriorate into a safe haven of illegal immigration, which often brings with it illegal (and often fatal) drugs like fentanyl imported from China and disseminated via cartel smuggling, heightened criminal activity among individuals on the terror watch list, and perilous situations for unaccompanied minors.
Finally, ensuring that the work is done for these individuals to receive safe return to their country of origin or to temporarily reside in Mexico, is the ideal approach to addressing illegal border crossings, while also ensuring that the Trump border wall is fully constructed to prevent access to exposed entry points, being an equally important move that needs to be undertaken sooner rather than later. Otherwise, America will continue to suffer under the humanitarian nightmare and soaring taxes compiled by the skyrocketing rate of illegal immigration.
The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.