The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Tuesday it will lift the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” program, formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP).
The program required non-Mexican migrants seeking asylum to wait in Mexico while their claims were processed.
The DHS changes followed a Monday ruling from Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk with the Texas Northern District Court, which lifted his previous injunction from last August requiring DHS to reimplement the MPP in good faith. Kacsmaryk’s recent ruling aligned with the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) reversal in June of his August ruling.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has stated that the MPP stands in the way of the immigration system’s improvement.
“The MPP has endemic flaws, imposed unjustifiable human costs, pulled resources and personnel away from other priority efforts, and did not address the root causes of irregular migration,” stated Mayorkas.
Mayorkas cited the Biden administration mantra on immigration — “safe, orderly, and humane” — to contrast MPP with their reform goals.
The “safe, orderly, and human” slogan is cited frequently in left-wing circles. Immigration reform activists, like the Hope Border Institute, used it to praise the Biden administration’s initial rollback of MPP last March.
Catholic bishops along the southern border also cited the slogan while advocating for illegal immigration.
CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus — formerly Tucson’s controversial police chief who told officials not to enforce immigration laws and instead uphold sanctuary city policies — also used the slogan to describe their ideal reimagined approach to border security.
Over 5,700 migrants were enrolled in the MPP from December through June. That’s about 60 percent of initial MPP enrollments, totaling over 9,600, with the remaining 40 percent (over 3,400) disenrolled.
MPP enrollments make up less than one percent (.6 percent) of all illegal immigrant encounters along the southwest border since December: over 1.4 million. As of press time, the southwest border encounter totals for July have yet to be released.
There have been over 3.2 million southwest border encounters since President Joe Biden took office.
On Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced it would close preexisting border wall gaps, but only after ensuring environmental stewardship. This is continuation of a departmental practice dating back well over a decade, one DHS hasn’t expedited or circumvented despite the ongoing border crisis. If DHS maintains similar pace from recent environmental stewardship reviews, it may be well over a year before these gaps are addressed.
The four gaps addressed will be along the incomplete border section in Border Patrol’s Yuma Sector.
The environmental stewardship in question has been a DHS goal since 2008, when Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) introduced an Environmental Stewardship Plan (ESP) and a Biological Resources Plan (BRP) to analyze the potential environmental impacts of border security construction, or tactical infrastructure (TI). Present protocol requires the development of an ESP before commencing the project. One of the latest ESPs was issued in November 2020 for construction announced in May 2019.
Included within an ESP are recommended construction practices to mitigate potential environmental impacts, or Best Management Practices (BMP) and Conservation Measures (CM).
Past DHS reports on environmental stewardship ultimately concluded that the positives of a border wall preventing foot traffic from illegal crossings, thereby preserving natural habitats and species, outlasted the negatives of construction.
Aspects of an ESP include factoring the biological and geographical conditions of the area, such as the vegetation and wildlife that would be impacted by construction efforts. Environmental stewardship also factors in cultural resources such as archaeological discoveries. (If artifacts are discovered, all work halts until an archaeologist clears officials to resume work).
The November 2020 ESP concerned 15 miles of fence replacement along the California border considered air quality; noise; land use, recreation, and aesthetics; geological resources and soils; groundwater; surface waters and other bodies of water; floodplains; vegetation; wildlife and aquatic resources; protected species and critical habitat; cultural resources; socioeconomics; and hazardous materials and waste.
Some of the ESP’s recommended BMP and CM included: wetting the soil to suppress dust, capping speed limits at 25 mph on unpaved roads, muffling equipment like generators, migratory bird surveillance and relocation, and cleaning of construction equipment (to prevent spread of non-native species).
Following completion of the border construction, DHS issues an Environmental Stewardship Summary Report (ESSR).
Another impediment for immediate border wall gap sealing comes from DHS obligations to engage with stakeholders.
Funding for the border wall gap closures will come from DHS fiscal year 2021 appropriations.
Last week, the Biden Administration officially filed a lawsuit against Arizona over HB2492, which bolsters safeguards to our voter registration process to require proof of citizenship ensuring only U.S. citizens are voting in our elections.
To many, it sounds absurd. Not HB2492, but the revelation that in Arizona, and in every state in the country, people are registering to vote and voting without ever providing proof of citizenship.
If America has learned anything from foreign entanglements over the past century, surely it is this: enemy conflicts must be engaged only if our vital interests are at stake. A war worth fighting must have clear objectives and a path to victory.
Clearly in WWII, all options save winning were unthinkable. We did win, and the modern classical liberal order was created.
We had no such resolve in Vietnam. Worried about riling China, and with growing domestic programs to fund, we fought not to win but for containment. And so we lost to a determined foe. America was humiliated, forfeiting immense blood and treasure as well as our national self-confidence.
Meanwhile, the Cold War spanned 45 fretful years during which the world became more dangerous. Neither side could afford to fall behind in the nuclear arms race when Mutually Assured Destruction was our defense against annihilation.
Ronald Reagan’s idea of actually defeating the Evil Empire turned the tide. Massive arms superiority and strategic defense weaponry convinced the Soviets that future efforts were futile.
The Middle East wars were fought without particular strategic goals and no endgame. We seem to believe we could mitigate Islamist terrorism through nation building and intervention in centuries old inter-tribal conflicts. We finally beat a disgraceful retreat with little to show for our losses.
Yet these lessons of history seem lost on our current administration‘s response in Ukraine. We don’t want our proxy, Ukraine, to lose but we’re not committed to winning either.
The heroic Ukrainians have fought to a virtual standoff. Yet, as a result of our indecisiveness, the outcome remains in doubt.
The seminal question was: why get involved at all? Is the Russian aggression basically a regional dustup, like our Middle East debacle? Or does a hegemonically ambitious autocrat represent an existential threat, analogous to the prelude to WWII?
Most Americans seem to realize this conflict has implications far beyond the ancient Russian/Ukrainian grudges. If Russia successfully breaches Ukrainian sovereignty, it will be the end of the international rules-based order that has sustained general peace and prosperity since WWII. Moreover, if nuclear weapons or their threat are decisive, it will embolden rogue states everywhere, including China and Iran.
President Zelensky has pleaded many times for faster delivery of air defenses and anti-missile systems. Yet our aid to Ukraine has been halting and inadequate. Not until late April did the Biden administration announce it would ship 90 desperately needed howitzers.
When the US finally decided to provide Ukraine with MLR (multiple launch rocket) systems to defend against Russia’s unremitting air attacks, only MLRs with a 70 km range, not the 300 km range necessary to reach Russian targets, were provided.
Too little, too late. Ukraine’s foreign minister lamented that if Ukraine had received more weapons earlier the situation today would be “much different… much better.”
Meanwhile, the unimaginable human toll, the death and destruction of Ukraine, continues to mount. Last month, the U.N. development agency announced that if the war continues, an astounding 90% of Ukrainians would be at or below poverty levels.
According to the U.N. refugee agency, 13 million people have been displaced, which has serious political and military consequences. When Ukrainians are scattered, it makes unity more difficult and Russian control easier. A hollowed-out Ukraine also enables Russia to take more Ukrainian territory at war’s end.
U.S. hesitation to provide more robust help to Ukraine is based on the fear of escalation and possible nuclear war with Russia. Some have urged Ukraine into an armistice that involves territorial concessions.
But that wouldn’t stop the bear. Instead, it would incentivize further military incursions. Over-caution could actually increase the possibility of escalation.
Biden and NATO have repeatedly ruled out direct military involvement and nuclear deployment without getting any concessions in return. Our weakness sends a message to Russia and other aggressors that threatening nuclear weapons works to soften western resistance.
The free world must decide what it stands for and how to meet this moment. If we don’t thwart Russian ambitions now, it will likely get more dangerous in the future. Ukraine, for their survival and ours, deserves protection now.
Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.
The latest border crossing data published this week revealed another all-time high of over 239,400, indicating that President Joe Biden’s border crisis won’t be getting better anytime soon. The latest number marked a 300 percent increase from the average May number under former President Donald Trump.
Under Biden, there have been 3.3 illegal immigrants encountered. So far this year, there have been over 1.5 illegal immigrants encountered.
Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) data showed that the number of illegal immigrants encountered climbed from nearly 235,500 in April. The number of illegal crossings spiked in March after a drop in January, which still registered a record high of over 154,800 crossings.
Recidivism rates more than doubled from pre-pandemic levels. They dropped from 14 percent in 2015 to 7 percent in 2019. The rate has been climbing steadily from 26 percent in 2020, to 27 percent in 2021.
As reported previously, the CBP data only reflects encounters. The actual number of illegal crossings are estimated to be much higher. “Gotaways” reflect illegal immigrants that weren’t apprehended.
CBP sources informed Fox News that there have been around 830,000 gotaways since about the time Biden took office at the beginning of last year: about 440,000 this year so far, with about 390,000 in 2021.
Biden hasn’t tweeted any formal statements on the southern border since last September, when he lamented over the treatment of illegal Haitian immigrants by Border Patrol. In recent months, Biden has focused on Ukraine’s border.
Rather, the president’s latest statements on the border focused on ensuring “humane and coordinated border management systems.” During an endorsement event for the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection, Biden did condemn illegal immigration. He noted that the government is partnering with Mexico to conduct “mirror patrols,” in which Border Patrol agents from both countries mirror one another’s patrol along the border.
“Unlawful migration is not acceptable, and we’ll secure our borders, including through innovative, coordinated actions with our regional partners,” said Biden.
The declaration served as a unified statement pledging community assistance, legal immigration pathway expansion, humane migration management, and coordinated emergency responses. Of note, the declaration promised to increase public and private services for migrants, expand labor migration pathways for migrants, and expand regular pathways for migrants.
In Wednesday’s press briefing, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre didn’t address the latest CBP numbers, instead focusing on Ukraine’s borders. Jean-Pierre didn’t touch the border crisis during Thursday’s press briefing, either.
Over the last few weeks, Jean-Pierre has cut the questions portion of press briefings short — much to the chagrin of reporters. Jean-Pierre ended Wednesday’s press briefing after taking reporters’ questions for 13 minutes.
Following viral criticism over keeping the questions portion of press briefings short, Jean-Pierre fielded questions for about 42 minutes during Thursday’s press briefing.
Last month, the Arizona House GOP issued a legislative proclamation denouncing Biden for his handling of the border crisis.
Senators Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) claimed credit for mitigating the border crisis within Congress’ annual budget bill: nearly 2.3 billion for CBP hiring and retention, CBP mental health and clinicians, CBP border management costs, ICE border management costs, border security technology, ports of entry technology, ports of entry feasibility study, creation of joint processing centers, food and shelter for migrants, transportation for migrants, and asylum processing.
However, the increased spending may not have a greater impact than the previous decisions by the two senators which arguably have contributed to the crisis.
Back in December, Kelly and Sinema voted with their colleagues to confirm Chris Magnus as the new CBP commissioner. Magnus has denied the existence of the border crisis repeatedly. During his tenure as chief of police in Tucson, Magnus told officials not to enforce immigration laws and instead continue with sanctuary city policies.
The two also voted to send stimulus checks to illegal immigrants, adding onto two crises in one blow: the inflation crisis, and the border crisis.
Exactly one year ago, the Biden administration claimed that Trump broke the immigration system, characterizing it as all “chaos and mismanagement,” and that border numbers would fluctuate based on annual migration trends. The number of illegal border crossings have only gone up since then.
Last April, Biden claimed that they had gotten the border under control.