“Don't, ever, for any reason, do anything, to anyone, for any reason, ever, no matter what, no matter where, or who or who you are with, or, or where you are going, or, or where you've been. Ever. For any reason. Whatsoever.”
If you are not an avid fan of the NBC sitcom “The Office,” you are forgiven for thinking this could be a quote from the Biden Administration regarding enforcement of our immigration laws. In that show, Michael Scott was describing his avant-garde approach to middle management. While it made for years of entertainment for viewers, few would want to live and work under such a regime. Unfortunately, through executive orders and policy memos we are seeing the real world consequences of laissez-faire management.
This ongoing border crisis, which President Biden declared as merely seasonal last spring, has persisted longer and been far worse than we have seen in decades. Given that it has lasted longer and seen far larger numbers than any of his predecessors, it cannot be fairly described as the latest iteration of a long-term problem. This is unique in time and scope such that simply pointing to a “broken immigration system” is not sufficient to explain the circumstances on the ground. After all, if the tired talking point that the broken system is the cause is true, why are we seeing decades long records being broken for months and months on end? A new explanation is required to fit the unprecedented circumstances if we are ever going to extricate ourselves from this new normal.
From the beginning, the Biden Administration has sought, largely successfully, to dismantle all immigration enforcement mechanisms root and stem. There have been some efforts by courts to enforce the law as seen when the 100-day deportation freeze was blocked, but the courts cannot keep up with the flurry of memos and orders that have carved up any ability of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to respond to the ever expanding crisis on the ground.
Of recent vintage, the Administration has ended metering at ports of entry. Metering allowed Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to restrict asylum claims at ports of entry when undermanned staff could not effectively manage authorized entrants along with a flood of economic migrants approaching without any prior authorization. At a time of limited resources and persistent overwhelming flows of people, ending metering guarantees madness. This comes at the same time that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been effectively barred from arresting the vast majority of the population of illegal immigrants within the interior. Even for the few counted as enforcement priorities, Biden has barred enforcement in many public areas, while also effectively banning enforcement at worksites that exploit illegal labor for profit.
The nonenforcement wing of the Biden Administration has even moved to bring the do-nothing strategy to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This component of DHS handles benefit applications like most temporary nonimmigrant visa applications. The Biden Administration is moving to waive fees charged related to applications (including recently for Afghan parolees in the United States). Waiving fees not only encourages free bites at the fraud apple, but cripples USCIS financially when they have already been tiptoeing to financial insolvency. You see, USCIS is a fee-funded agency. The work USCIS does in adjudicating applications for benefits is paid for by the aliens themselves. But even as the Biden Administration’s policies are escalating the number of applicants exponentially, they are also in the process of waiving fees and ending integrity measures, thus placing massive financial and workload burdens on the USCIS staff and increasing the likelihood of fraud.
While the border numbers persist with hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers who we have no capacity to detain as the law requires or infrastructure to care for during the pendency of their claims, the Biden Administration has also flown tens of thousands of Afghans to the United States with little to no vetting. In addition, they are increasing our refugee cap in conjunction with hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers from the border and tens of thousands of parolees from their debacle of a withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Keep in mind this is just a brief summary of the vast array of actions contributing to the current crisis. Previously, I have discussed other actions like the pending asylum rule that would enact expedited approval of asylum claims with minimal legal review. The Administration has also rescinded several rules and policies of the Trump Administration which were designed to slow the flow of illegal migration and deter fraudulent asylum claims that clog up the system to the detriment of bona fide asylum seekers. If you step back and look at the totality of the Biden Administration’s actions, it is impossible to view them as par for the course or status quo ante. Instead, taken altogether, it is the most radical destruction of immigration enforcement since the 1986 amnesty bill. Most striking is that it has occurred with little to no input from Congress or the people. Most of these policy changes have required no votes and not even notice and comment through the Administrative Procedures Act. The Biden Administration, with minimal vetting or comment, has succeeded in erasing enforcement.
While past Administrations have supported amnesty and reducing enforcement, none have acted so openly, decisively, swiftly, and comprehensively toward total abdication of enforcement responsibility. This is what is different and can be understood as the prime mover for the recent unprecedented ongoing crisis at the border. DHS is being overwhelmed while steadfastly drafting new and improved policies to exacerbate its own demise at a rapid rate. Backlogs grow along with border apprehension numbers. This cannot be described as a problem requiring immigration reform. To point to the immigration laws as the culprit you would first have to try and faithfully enforce them. No, instead we must be open and honest about what is actually happening: Immigration enforcement is broken and the Biden Administration is gleefully seeking to do more damage. That is what is new and unique. And that is why we are staring down a full calendar year of “seasonal” illegal migration.
To be fair to the Biden Administration, perhaps they believed that their change in policies would work. Perhaps they believed that the Trump Administration’s attempts to stringently enforce immigration law were doing more harm than good. After all, it is true that both the Obama and Trump Administrations faced border surges. However, as we approach the end of Biden’s first year in office, the facts are unmistakable. If Biden is the adult in the room that follows the facts as opposed to feelings, the last year has been a reality-based indictment of his policies on immigration. Even if you provide full benefit of the doubt to the Commander-in-Chief, the results are clear. If President Biden persists in the current posture of dismantling enforcement, then we have no other choice than to assume the crisis, chaos, and misery at the border is the goal. There were critics of the Trump Administration that said “cruelty was the point” of his policies. Then in that same vein, chaos and crisis are fast becoming the only point of the Biden Administration.
JARED CULVER is a Legal Analyst for NumbersUSA
Updated: Thu, Dec 16th 2021 @ 2:20pm EST