Trump-era programmes are set to expire soon
Even President Biden no longer claims that the border surge is just a seasonal phenomenon that “happens every single solitary year“. May broke the monthly record for the largest number of illegal-alien “encounters” on the southern border, at nearly a quarter-million. While there will certainly be fluctuations, there’s no reason to think the mass violation of America’s border will end so long as the Biden/Harris administration is in power.
Despite much teeth-gnashing, the recent Supreme Court ruling that the administration is permitted to end the so-called Remain in Mexico programme (which required illegal border-jumpers claiming asylum to to await their court dates back in Mexico) probably will not make things much worse. A lower court had ordered that it be kept in place, but the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) complied only in the most trivial way; of 1.2 million illegal aliens “encountered” (to use the current euphemism) at the border with Mexico, only about 5,000 were enrolled in Remain in Mexico. While the Supreme Court ruling may send a message of encouragement to some migrants hoping to get past the Border Patrol, it’s not likely to increase the flow of border-jumpers.
What will make things much, much worse is the likely end of a different border-control programme called Title 42. This is a public health measure triggered by the pandemic that allows the Border Patrol to expel border-jumpers without allowing them to make an asylum claim. It is one of the only Trump-era border measures that the new administration kept in place, though it is applying it to a smaller and smaller share of those apprehended at the border. Under Trump, nearly 90% were expelled under this order; in May, fewer than half were.
Not satisfied with applying Title 42 to a progressively smaller share of border-infiltrators, the Biden administration attempted to terminate the programme altogether in May, but was stopped on procedural grounds by a different federal judge. Nonetheless, as a Covid-related restriction, it will almost certainly end at some point in the not-too-distant future.
And that will be really bad. Even DHS is terrified of the possible fallout. It has estimated that today’s record level of border violations could more than double to as many as 18,000 a day once Title 42 is ended. To give some context, Obama’s DHS secretary, Jeh Johnson, has said that 1,000 border intrusions in a single day “overwhelms the system“, and we’re already at seven or eight times that.
The reason for all this is simple: the White House does not believe in deterring illegal border crossers, seeking only to process them as expeditiously as possible into the interior of the United States. DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas made this explicit in a recent TV interview, where he was asked whether it is “the objective of the Biden administration to reduce, sharply reduce the total number of illegal immigrants coming across the southern border?” Mayorkas responded: “It is the objective of the Biden administration to make sure that we have safe, orderly, and legal pathways for individuals to be able to access our legal system.”
In other words, no, the administration is not interested in enforcing America’s southern border.
If something can’t continue forever, it won’t. But the “root cause” of the problem is sitting in the Oval Office, and so it will be some time yet before the unprecedented dissolution of the border is reversed.