The BorderLine is a weekly Daily Signal feature examining everything from the unprecedented illegal immigration crisis at the border to immigration’s impact on cities and states throughout the land. We will also shed light on other critical border-related issues like human trafficking, drug smuggling, terrorism, and more.
In 1910, future president Calvin Coolidge told his father—a newly elected Vermont state senator—that “it is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones.” His words are as applicable today as a century ago, and not the least when it comes to our utterly compromised borders and immigration policy.
Recently reported outlines of a compromise border security deal being brokered in the U.S. Senate indicate that Coolidge was correct. If the proposal emerges as currently reported—potentially codifying some of the Biden administration’s open border policies into law—we’re talking about a couple of tiny bones thrown to conservatives, buried in a large bowl of dog food.
The White House’s supplemental budget request, which has triggered these negotiations, asked for billions more to continue President Joe Biden’s open border operations. The administration wants another $1.3 billion for the State Department to continue attracting the worldwide flow of illegal aliens to the Western Hemisphere and up to the U.S. border through its “Safe Mobility Offices.”
The State Department says these offices are to “assist and guide migrants and refugees toward authorized channels of lawful migration,” though its definition of “lawful” includes made-up parole programs that are anything but lawful.
The administration wants another $4.5 billion for U.S. Customs and Border Protection to continue “processing” more illegal aliens into the United States rather than deporting them (i.e., “catch and release”) and to continue funding Federal Emergency Management Agency grants for nongovernmental organizations to transport and shelter illegal aliens throughout the U.S.
And it asks for another $481 million for the Department of Health and Human Services to spend through 2025, thereby committing the next administration to continue NGO grants for “wraparound services” for “refugees” and unaccompanied minors.
Congress should reject these border insecurity requests rather than continue to fund the demise of our nation’s sovereignty.
To add insult to injury, some of the proposals being floated in the Senate would codify Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ open border tools and bind his successors to abide by them.
First, the bill would give illegal aliens work permits immediately when they are released at the border—as 85% or more have been recently, according to Mayorkas himself. Illegal aliens want to be allowed to enter the U.S., stay here under any pretense, and work. Few of them are qualified for asylum, but they know the system will take years to process their cases and prove that they aren’t qualified, and when it does, the chances of their being deported are low—and under the Biden administration, they are incredibly low. Giving out work permits on arrival would lock into law the already existing massive incentive to come here illegally.
Second, the proposal would reportedly stop the Department of Homeland Security from giving parole to aliens who cross into the United States between ports of entry. Sounds good, but that’s like enforcing vehicle speed limits only where there are no paved roads—because Biden’s bogus programs actually allow inadmissible aliens to fly to U.S. airports and then apply for parole.
Between ports, aliens are not supposed to be given parole. Nor are more than a handful of aliens at the ports of entry supposed to be given parole. A limited parole power was written into immigration law so a presidential administration could allow in a few people per year for urgent and significant reasons and when there wasn’t time for them to get a visa.
But Biden has frequently used mass immigration parole to invent special programs for thousands of Afghans and Ukrainians. He invented another program for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans, allowing 36,000 people a month from these countries alone to apply for parole—from outside the country—and fly to the U.S. airport of their convenience.
Biden created yet another program for “family unification parole” that lets relatives of legal U.S. residents from favored countries cut the line ahead of millions of others.
The Biden administration calls these “lawful pathways,” but they’re not—Mayorkas does not have the constitutional authority to create de facto visas for inadmissible aliens. Though he’s being sued by half the states in the nation over this, Biden will keep stuffing the parole piñata until something stops him.
Third, the rumored Senate proposal apparently would authorize CBP to expel illegal aliens rather than allow their entry. Such a summary power, similar to the COVID-19 related Title 42 expulsion authority that Biden stopped using in May 2023, is of crucial importance to restoring order at the border.
But there is a big catch. The general expulsion authority would not kick in until after CBP encounters 5,000 illegal aliens a day. That’s 150,000 illegal aliens in a month; almost 2 million in a year. That would be an unprecedented acceptance of crisis levels of illegal immigration.
Finally, in a sop to immigration activist attorneys, the proposal would also reportedly provide taxpayer-funded defense lawyers to illegal aliens under 18 or with special needs to fight against their deportation. For decades, the Left has wanted the taxpayer to pay for immigration attorneys for illegal aliens. Currently, U.S. law allows aliens to have lawyers, but not at government expense.
Biden has already allowed nearly 450,000 unaccompanied minors into the country and has given them billions of dollars in government services and immigration benefits after entry. With yearslong asylum and deportation court proceedings, continuances, motions, and appeals multiplied by millions of deportable aliens, this change would be a fiscal bottomless pit for taxpayers.
So, that’s the mountain of dog food; what about the small bones thrown to conservatives? So far, it seems the proposal contains some unspecified tightening of the standards for claiming and qualifying for asylum, as well as expedited deportations in some cases, including for families with children.
The asylum process is indeed unfit for purpose, but it has been in place for 60 years and needs a carefully planned overhaul, not quick and probably unworkable fixes drafted under the time constraints in which they’re looking to pass this legislation.
As for deportation, it is going to have to be prioritized in any future administration that wants to restore credibility to our legal system. But the existing asylum loopholes are so numerous, the appeals so easy, and the system so clogged that increasing removals will require a political will that is totally lacking in the Biden administration, so that is hardly a reason to support this package.
In the end, the White House’s supplemental request for $13.6 billion to continue funding NGOs and mass migration should be a nonstarter. The Senate shouldn’t further compound the border crisis by also codifying Biden’s and Mayorkas’ egregious open border tactics.
If the Senate doesn’t agree to the House-passed Secure the Border Act of 2023, then Congress should follow Coolidge’s guidance and kill whatever legislation comes out of this reported Senate proposal. Then things will remain as they are, which means hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens trying—and mostly succeeding—to enter every month.
The American people will have another 10 months to see the real consequences of unlimited and unvetted immigration. Then, they can decide for themselves in November whether to continue the open borders experiment or return to historical norms where laws, not executive discretion, decide who enters and who stays.
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