President Joe Biden and administration officials say that fewer illegal immigrants have crossed the southern border into the U.S. since the end of Title 42

Title 42, a public health measure allowing quick removal of illegal aliens, was lifted late Thursday night with the official end of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, border and immigration experts contend that the Biden administration is pushing a “shell game” and “smoke and mirrors.”

Asked over the weekend about the results of Title 42’s end, Biden told reporters while on a bike ride: “Much better than you all expected.” 

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told CNN on Sunday: “The numbers we have experienced in the past two days are markedly down over what they were prior to the end of Title 42.” Mayorkas said there were 6,300 encounters with illegal aliens at the border Friday and 4,200 Saturday.

In a conference call Monday with reporters, Blas Nuñez-Neto, chief operating officer at U.S. Customs and Border Protection, backed up Mayorkas’ claim. 

“Over the last three days, we have seen approximately a 50% decrease in encounters compared to the days leading up to the end of Title 42,” Nuñez-Neto told reporters. “It is still early, though, and we are mindful that smugglers will continue to look for ways to take advantage of the change in border policies.”

For one, border experts note the Biden administration’s adoption of a “lawful pathways” policy, which includes a Customs and Border Protection mobile app allowing illegal immigrants to schedule an appointment at a port of entry to enter the U.S. without documentation. 

So, these immigrants without documentation are entering the United States in what amounts to a mass parole system, and are not being counted as “encounters” at the border. 

“The Biden administration is hiding migration encounters,” 

Art Arthur, former general counsel for U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services (now known as Immigration and Customs Enforcement), told The Daily Signal. “Mayorkas uses the term ‘border encounters,’ but we are surging with entries at the ports of entry with mass parole.”

Arthur, also a former federal immigration judge, is now a resident fellow for law and policy at the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that supports enforcement of U.S. immigration laws. 

“I was at the border in El Paso last week. They were erecting massive tents [for illegal aliens],” Arthur said of the Texas border town. “Whether you jump the line or enter through a port of entry, if you don’t have documents, you are still in the U.S. illegally. It’s smoke and mirrors.” 

To the extent that actual unlawful border crossings into the U.S. declined, Arthur said, it’s due to more than 1,500 Texas state law enforcement officers being there to stop them, by order of Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican. 

“That pushed people down and around El Paso and the Rio Grande. If there is any hero in this story, it is Gov. Abbott and the [state] troopers he sent to the border,” Arthur said.  

What Mayorkas calls “lawful pathways” is still illegal, noted Lora Ries, former acting deputy chief of staff for the Department of Homeland Security and former counsel for the House Judiciary Committee’s immigration and claims subcommittee.

“This is what Secretary Mayorkas is calling a ‘lawful pathway,’ but it is not lawful because, first, he’s violating the parole statute in the Immigration and Nationality Act,” Ries, now director of the Border Security and Immigration Center at The Heritage Foundation, said. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.)

“Parole is supposed to be on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons. That’s not the case here,” she said of Mayorkas. “He is paroling in tens of thousands of inadmissible aliens each month.” 

The point of shifting illegal migration to ports of entry is to present lower numbers to the American public, Ries said, calling it “a shell game” and “a gimmick.” 

“The administration doesn’t want you looking at the rapid increase of inadmissible aliens at the ports, which the administration has instructed aliens to do,” she said, adding: 

They are following the administration’s instructions. They are making this application and they are getting paroled in through the ports. But the administration only talks about numbers dropping at the border. They are not mentioning, nor do they want you looking at, the rapid rise in numbers of [inadmissible aliens].

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