Several former officials of the Department of Homeland Security believe that a proposed border security reform, currently being negotiated in the Senate, will not work and is being used by the Biden administration to deflect blame from its policies.
The deal, whose text has not yet been released to the public, would reportedly place a limit on the processing of foreign national migrants who enter the country by illegally crossing the international border with Mexico at 5,000 individuals per day, measured as an average over two weeks, according to multiple reports about its contents. Should average migrant intake exceed that threshold, the processing of all migrants would shut down for at least two weeks, with all arriving migrants during that time being immediately removed from the United States, until the next two-week average falls to 3,750.
The deal has been attacked by former officials of the Department of Homeland Security who oversaw border policy, as well as experts, who spoke with the Daily Caller News Foundation. They argue that it will not meaningfully reduce migrant intake by the United States and is being used, politically, by President Joe Biden to blame Republicans for increased migrant flows, which they argue were caused by his policies.
“I think this idea of a negotiation right now is a little bit of comical, in the sense that the Biden administration for the last three years has shown no interest in securing the border,” said former Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf to the DCNF. “And so, why, all of a sudden, are they showing interest now? … If they were truly serious about securing the border, they would have done so using existing authorities for the past three years.”
“They’re just shifting blame once again, right now, to Congress…they said it was the Trump administration’s fault, they said it was Congress’s fault. They’ll blame it on everyone and anyone but their own policy,” Wolf noted. “I don’t buy the argument that the only [out] is to negotiate very, very nuanced immigration laws that only a few people understand and that no one really knows how are going to be operationalized.”
Wolf’s comments were echoed by other former officials, who also think that the provisions leaked provisions are unlikely to be meaningful in their effect. “Biden becoming serious about the border three years into his term would be like the White Star Line becoming serious about maritime safety after leaving Belfast,” wrote Simon Hankinson, a former U.S. consular officer who is a senior research fellow on immigration at the Heritage Foundation, to the DCNF.
“Senators would be codifying, or cementing, the very open border tools Biden has used to achieve his unlimited illegal immigration agenda: unlawful mass parole, work authorization, asylum fraud, unaccompanied alien children, and catch and release,” said Lora Ries, a former chief of staff of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) immigration attorney to the DCNF. “Senators should not fall for Biden’s statement that he’ll use the proposed new authority. He has current authority to fix the border mess he created…Now, in an election year, he’s to be believed? No way.”
Ries pointed out that the deal would purportedly send money to large Democratic-run cities to relieve them of the burdens of migrant intake, which they have received pursuant to a Texas-run initiative, Operation Lone Star, to send migrants via bus to self-described sanctuary cities. “Biden is willing to endorse [the deal] because he is desperate for more funding to pay off the sanctuary cities to improve the optics in big cities, including Chicago, host of this summer’s Democratic National Convention,” Ries noted.
Apart from the 5,000-per-day threshold, the deal would reportedly mandate the detention of all single adult migrants who arrive in the United States, illegally. It would also grant the government new authority to remove migrants who have sought asylum despite having, prima facie, no valid claim, which would be determined within six months as opposed to the current yearslong pendency due to arrears.
“5,000 illegal entrants a day adds 2 million people to the country a year who are not legal immigrants,” wrote Hankinson. Regarding removal authority, he was pessimistic: “How would this work? For three years, the administration has deliberately tried NOT to enforce immigration law in the interior. Did they suddenly have a change of heart? Is this a tweak to the Credible Fear standards?” he said.
“President Obama’s DHS Secretary called 1,000 apprehensions per day a crisis. If [reporting about the deal] is accurate, the Senate is agreeing to a level of illegal immigration that will cripple the immigration system,” wrote Robert Law, an attorney and former chief of policy at USCIS to the DCNF.
House Speaker Mike Johnson has repeatedly suggested that his conference is unlikely to support the deal if its reported contents are included. For different reasons, some congressional Democrats, particularly members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, have demanded that Biden make no concessions to Republicans on removal authority since most of the migrants removed would be of Hispanic or Latino origin.
Among their objections, the experts suggested that a legislative deal would legally limit a future administration seeking to enact stricter limits on migration. “If enacted, [the deal] would require future legislation to repeal the current proposed legislation,” Ries noted.
Overall, experts suggest that the deal should be rejected and that Biden should, instead, use existing authority to reduce illegal migrant crossings.
“The Biden Administration has not operated in good faith when it comes to the border for the last 3 years so Congress should be skeptical,” Law noted. “The same laws that President Trump used are still on the books but the Biden Administration refuses to use them.”
“Almost all the powers needed to control the border and restore sanity to the immigration/asylum process are already available for Biden to use. What he ruined by executive over-reach can surely be remedied the same way,” Hankinson said.
“Congress needs to finally provide the funding I requested in October to secure the border. This includes an additional 1,300 border patrol agents, 375 immigration judges, 1,600 asylum officers, and over 100 cutting-edge inspection machines,” wrote Biden in a statement about the negotiations. “If you’re serious about the border crisis, pass a bipartisan bill and I will sign it.”