The Biden Administration’s Claim that They Have Reduced Illegal Immigration is False
The Biden administration has been disseminating a very carefully crafted message designed to convince the American public that they have regained control of our borders. In the aftermath of the repeal of Title 42 in May, that message – repeated and amplified by compliant media outlets – asserts that there has been a 70 percent reduction in Border Patrol encounters of migrants crossing the border illegally between ports of entry (POEs).
The inference they want the American public to come away with is that illegal immigration has been reduced by 70 percent since the administration ended Title 42 and implemented what they claim are tough new policies that prevent people from entering illegally. If that sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. The number of inadmissible foreign nationals arriving in the United States continues at a record pace. But rather than crossing between POEs and being encountered by the Border Patrol, the Biden administration is redirecting them to land border POEs, or allowing them to fly directly to airports in the interior of the country, where they are encountered by another division with the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency, the Office of Field Operations.
The administrations “success” in stemming the number of Border Patrol encounters of migrants crossing illegally is premised on what they are touting as “new legal pathways” they have created for migrants to enter the country. The problem is that the Executive Branch does not have the authority to create new legal pathways for people to enter the country. Under our Constitution, only the Legislative Branch has that power to do so, and Congress has not acted. But why let a little thing like the Constitution stand in their way?
In the past several months, policies formulated by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas have redirected many illegal migrants who might otherwise have illegally crossed between ports of entry to land and air POEs. Beginning late last year, the administration announced it would grant humanitarian parole to up to 360,000 migrants annually from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Earlier this year they added Colombia to that list. The law governing parole is is extremely limited: It must be done on a case-by-case basis and must serve some compelling humanitarian or national interest, and that people granted parole must leave once those requirements no longer pertain. Of course, none of these criteria is being applied.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has also been encouraging migrants who wish to abuse our political asylum process to do so by using a phone app, known as CBPOne. As many as 40,000 migrants a month can now use the app to schedule an appointment at a POE to enter an asylum claim – the vast majority are then allowed to enter while they wait for years for their claims to be adjudicated.
The migrants who enter under parole or using the CBPOne app are encountered by the Office of Field Operations (OFO), rather than by the Border Patrol. So, while the administration wants us to look at the declining number of Border Patrol encounters, they are hoping no one will notice the exploding number of OFO encounters. What DHS’s own data show is that by the end of April – just seven months into the current fiscal year, the number of OFO encounters had already reached 570,587, which was more than recorded in all of FY 2022, which was itself a record-setting year for such encounters.
In other words, the administration’s boast that Border Patrol encounters have been reduced does not mean that the numbers of illegal aliens entering the country has been reduced. It just means they have moved many of the encounters off of the Border Patrol’s books and shifted them to OFO, while removing the bad optics of large numbers of migrants crossing the border between POEs. As the president gears up for his reelection bid next year, we should expect further abuses of presidential authority to convince the American public that illegal immigration is under control, when it is anything but.