The BorderLine is a weekly Daily Signal feature examining everything from the unprecedented illegal immigration crisis at the border to immigration’s impact on cities and states throughout the land. We will also shed light on other critical border-related issues like human trafficking, drug smuggling, terrorism, and more.
At a recent Senate hearing on threats to the homeland, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas once again avoided answering tough questions from concerned members of Congress. His defense of his inability to protect our borders and prevent millions of aliens, including known terrorists, from illegally entering the country had plenty of excuses but no good solutions.
During the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., showed a chart of rising border “encounters” that depicted the Biden administration’s failure to prevent illegal aliens, including an unknown number of criminals and suspected terrorists, from entering the United States at will.
Johnson tried to get Mayorkas to tell the committee how many people had been let in on his watch—not just aliens released and trusted to show up for deportation hearings, but aliens paroled under various made-up programs, as well as the estimated 1.7 million people who snuck in—the “gotaways.”
Sens. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and Roger Marshall, R-Kan., wanted to know the number of suspected terrorists encountered and for the Department of Homeland Security to disclose their countries of origin, which, in many cases—including countries known to harbor terrorist groups—are just recorded as “other.”
When forced to explain his agency’s performance, Mayorkas’ statements and testimony were marvels of evasion. Rather than commit to specifics that would illustrate the scope of the current chaos, he preferred to talk about a “broken” immigration system and call for a “pathway to citizenship” (that means amnesty) for illegal aliens.
Marshall asked about “first safe country” agreements. These are agreements with other countries to allow illegal aliens who are traveling through them on their way to the U.S. to stop and apply for asylum there and remain in those countries to await a decision rather than come to the U.S. and apply. Additionally, for illegals already in America, the U.S. can send them back to the countries they crossed through to file their asylum claims and wait.
Marshall wanted to know if such agreements would make the U.S. safer and what percentage of asylum applicants they could prevent from showing up at the U.S. border.
Again, Mayorkas dodged, saying the question was “complex” and a “matter of negotiation.”
But it’s not really that complex.
Having a deal of the type Marshall described, known as a Safe Third Country Agreement, would certainly reduce the flow to our border. That’s why we have one with Canada and why we signed one with Guatemala in 2019 and were negotiating them with Honduras and El Salvador before President Joe Biden abandoned them all when he took office.
The Migrant Protection Protocols we had with Mexico, which kept asylum applicants out of the U.S. unless and until they made their legal case to be allowed in, deterred fraudulent asylum claims made purely to gain access and time here in the U.S.
But it was Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who nailed it—demonstrating the unity there is on this issue across the Republican conference. Gesturing to Johnson’s chart, he told Mayorkas, “If that were my record, I’d have resigned in shame or designed legislation to solve the problem. You’ve done neither. Asylum is broken, but you’ve been there three years. Have you proposed legislation to fix the asylum system? What one thing would you do?”
Mayorkas fell back on his favorite excuse: a worldwide “unprecedented level of immigration” made the current chaos unavoidable. But Romney pointed out the truth: “That level [the massive spike in illegal immigration visible on the chart] happens to coincide with Biden and you coming into office. The key factor is your administration!”
Romney gave up, knowing he would not get answers. But America deserves them.
Let’s review Mayorkas’ promises and what he has delivered.
In April 2022, Mayorkas released a six-pillar plan “focused on ensuring that the [migration] process is safe, orderly, and humane.” On May 10, he said that the administration’s “overall approach is to build lawful pathways for people to come to the United States and to impose tougher consequences on those who choose not to use those pathways.”
Well, he built “pathways,” but they are not lawful. And the consequences? They never materialized.
The plan called for “Enhanced Central Processing Centers” to quickly pass illegal aliens from the border to nongovernmental organizations then to give those NGOs billions of poorly-tracked dollars to move the aliens inside the country and provide them with welfare services. It also promised “consequences for unlawful entry, including removal, detention, and prosecution,” and a “[c]ore … commitment to continue to strictly enforce our immigration laws.”
A year and a half from launching, how’s his plan going?
On letting illegal aliens in, Mayorkas delivered—never before in U.S. history have so many aliens been let into the country on so flimsy a basis in such a short time. In fiscal year 2023, DHS “encountered” over 3.2 million illegal aliens nationwide. That was up from 2.7 million in 2022, and 1.9 million in 2021. Of these, likely half were let into the country on some pretext.
These staggering numbers are the easily foreseeable consequence of Biden administration decisions to allow most illegal immigrants—and all families with minor children—to enter the country and remain here. Social media spread the word, migrants got the message, hostile foreign rulers like Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega and Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro greased the wheels, and human smuggling cartels did the rest.
They’re not just coming from Central and South America. The Wall Street Journal has reported “a surge in apprehensions of people from Asia and Africa as human smuggling networks widen their reach across the globe.”
In fiscal year 2021, only about 19,000 people from Asia and Africa were caught illegally crossing the southern border. In fiscal year 2022, that rose to 70,000. And in the just-ended fiscal year 2023, it was 214,000.
What about the Mayorkas plan’s commitment to enforce immigration laws? Deportations are at historic lows, and so far, nearly all the illegal aliens let in or who got in under Biden are still here.
Another pillar of Mayorkas’ plan was to cut deals with Latin American countries and send aid to them to address the “root causes” of migration like government corruption, poverty, and violence. Despite no evidence that this has reduced illegal migration at all, the State Department just announced another $485 million. That’s throwing good money after bad.
Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is either the hallmark of insanity, as the saying goes, or an unhealthy addiction to left-wing ideology. In Mr. Mayorkas’ case, it seems to be the latter. His “root causes” plus “lawful pathways” plus “meaningful deterrent” formula is a bust. Mayorkas has said, “We are a nation of immigrants. We are also a nation of laws.” But when it comes to immigration, he has betrayed those laws.
For that dereliction of duty—one which he refuses to acknowledge or ameliorate—Mayorkas merits impeachment. Then, it’s far past time to return to what we know worked: Eliminate the incentive of allowing economic migrants to enter the U.S. and work while their asylum claims are pending, expedite those claims, and deport those with no right to remain.
Read Other BorderLine Columns:
Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com, and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the URL or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.