Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has claimed “a big victory for Texas and the nation” in the state’s case against the Biden administration’s 100-day deportation moratorium.
It wasn’t much of a win.
Fact is, the clock just ran out on the 100-day freeze, which a federal judge had blocked at Texas’ request. And the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) statement that it “does not intend to extend or reinstate a policy requiring a pause on the execution of final orders of removal for any noncitizens” is risible in light of ongoing releases of illegal aliens.
On America’s southern border, “catch-and-release” is the order of the day, every day. And not just for unaccompanied children or family units who are eligible for certain protections from deportation. With a flurry of executive orders and proclamations, President Joe Biden has stretched and contorted longstanding immigration laws to allow wholesale admission of illegal aliens.
Biden’s ad-hoc edicts are frustrating Border Patrol officers in a historically high-stress, high-turnover occupation. As more agents weigh early retirement other jaded officers have started carrying coins bearing the message: “U.S. Welcome Patrol.”
Border agents in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, the epicenter of the migrant surge, were authorized in March to begin releasing adult migrants from custody, without even an appointment for an immigration court hearing. It’s been called an honor system, but where’s the honor in it?
Catch and release has turned into catch and bus or catch and fly as the government shuttles illegal aliens into the U.S. interior. Haitian, Venezuelan and Cuban passengers are winding up in Florida and New Jersey. Central American migrants are sent to Tennessee, Massachusetts, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, and large cities in Texas such as Dallas and Houston.
Though the administration touts rising apprehension numbers, it isn’t reporting “got-aways” who are never detained. In Arizona, the Cochise County sheriff estimated more than 60,000 illegal aliens got past the Border Patrol’s “Thin Green Line” as agents are diverted to handle immigration processing, childcare and various administrative chores. Even if apprehended, there is no assurance that border crashers will be sent back.
Illegal aliens corralled by South Texas law enforcement agencies (typically after high-speed chases), and turned over to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, are not summarily removed. In the absence of Homeland Security Investigations – many rural counties do not have an HSI agent on the ground -- there is no case number, and no requirement to hold an alien. Anything goes, and does.
Texas state troopers say illegal aliens are turning themselves in for the sure-thing legalizations they know they’ll receive from Border Patrol. As one border reporter puts it: “Catch and release is happening all day and all night.”
Instead of enforcing immigration laws, this administration’s primary objective is to manage the influx of hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals barging into this country. With detention and removal routinely vilified in media sob stories, the surreptitious dispersal of migrants into the heartland is calculated to limit bad optics while satisfying the president’s political base.
Ominously, Biden’s open-door policies at the border extend into America’s jails. “Detainers” issued to local lockups by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have plummeted from 10,000 a month to 2,500, allowing criminal aliens back onto the streets. Not only is this administration failing to deport illegal border crossers; it’s not even bothering to take the necessary legal steps to keep violent thugs behind bars.
In a toxic display of arrogance and incompetence, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas recently minimized the importance of detainers. Asked whether ICE was requesting holds on all criminal aliens held by law enforcement and flagged for removal, he blithely responded: “I am sure they’re not, nor should they be.”
Brandon Judd of the National Border Patrol Council told Newsmax’s Sean Spicer that catch and release has made the U.S. a "magnet" for human, sex and drug trafficking. The importation and entrenchment of such criminal enterprises undermines the “credible fear” declarations that some migrants claim about their homelands in order to dodge deportation proceedings.
Despite DHS’ glib and slippery assurance that it does “not intend” to try another pause in deportations, the reality is that removals have dropped precipitously under Biden. Illegal aliens know their odds of staying in this country are better than ever. That’s why they keep coming in droves.
Bob Dane is executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in Washington, D.C.
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