Before announcing her candidacy for U.S. President, Sen. Kamala Harris told MSNBC's Chris Hayes that she didn't believe in abolishing ICE, but she would prohibit ICE from deporting anyone who had not also committed a "serious or violent crime." Today, in 2021, the Biden administration has put the Vice President's 2018 position into practice.
According to The Washington Post, ICE is "an agency on probation," and deportations in April fell to the lowest level on record. Privately, ICE officials told The Post that their work had been "essentially abolished," even as illegal border crossings remain at a 20-year high.
Think anyone noticed?
The New York Times reports that the Central American border surge now includes migrants from all over the globe.
"Friends and family members already in the country, along with smugglers eager to cash in, have assured them that they will not be turned away," reports Miriam Jordan, "and this is proving to be true."
Axios reports that more than 33,000 people crossed illegally into the United States in April from nations other than Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Anna Giaritelli reports "European migrants are flying into Mexico" and heading straight for the U.S. border.
Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat who represents a border district in Texas, tells Giaritelli that agents are too overwhelmed to even issue orders to appear in court before releasing the migrants into the United States.
"It's an admission and release document," Cuellar says, "not a notice to appear."
Over 60,000 were released from Border Patrol stations in February, March, and April - up from the 18 who were released during Trump's last month in office.
Those numbers do not include unaccompanied minors, with whom the Department of Health and Human Services is so overwhelmed that they have "diverted more than $2 billion meant for other health initiatives toward covering the cost of caring for [them]," according to Politico. The diverted money includes $850 million that was meant to rebuild the Strategic National Stockpile after the pandemic.
High-speed chases and horse races
Arelis R. Hernandez details the chaotic rhythm of daily life in LaSalle County, Texas, where "hazardous high-speed chases have become routine," as smugglers take advantage of the overwhelmed and distracted Border Patrol. Even before the current crisis, Donald Trump became the first Republican presidential candidate to win the 87-percent Hispanic county in three decades.
"Root Causes" of a "Non-Crisis"?
When Biden put Vice President Harris in charge of the border, Harris' team quickly clarified that "The Vice President is not doing the border," but would be addressing the "root causes of migration," none of which include the policies that led to the current crisis.
Byron York says the Biden administration views the challenge at the border as one of accommodation, not prevention: "The message has gotten out to the world," York writes, "and the world is coming."
Can't this thing go any faster...?
Joseph Chamie contemplates the possibilities of America's de-facto open-border policies:
The number of people who indicated a desire to migrate to the U.S. in a worldwide survey in 2018 is about 158 million adults. If all those people with their immediate families were able to achieve their migration desires in the near future, America's population would increase to more than a half billion people.
Chamie says it is past time for the U.S. to adopt "substantially lower future levels of immigration," but he warns that as long as America has a de facto open border policy, "the nation will be seriously challenged and disunited on the vital issue of U.S. immigration."
JEREMY BECK is the Director of the Sustainability Initiative for NumbersUSA
Updated: Wed, Jul 14th 2021 @ 3:12pm EDT