A mob of over 300 illegal aliens assaulted National Guard soldiers and stormed their way into Texas last month. White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told us “everyone was apprehended by the Border Patrol agents.” Sure. But then nearly all of them were released. Perhaps the Department of Homeland Security held on to a few scapegoats to charge with assault to mitigate the public relations disaster of Americans watching their country mocked daily on national media.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas recently admitted that over 85% of the aliens caught crossing into the U.S. illegally are being released. DHS has let in over a million others under bogus, conjured out-of-thin-air, immigration parole programs. That’s the “Mayorkas Migration Machine” in action—relentless as it undermines national sovereignty, congressional authority, and the rule of law.

I recently visited San Diego County, where the U.S.-Mexico border wall runs right into the Pacific Ocean. What I saw is a microcosm of what’s going on across all U.S. borders.

In their San Diego Sector, Border Patrol takes women with young children, the elderly, and sick people to the San Diego Rapid Response Network’s Migrant Shelter Services, run by the nonprofit Jewish Family Service. According to its website, the network’s Travel Center provides “case management, travel, and transportation assistance, and legal support to its guests.”

Welcoming “guests” is what DHS wants more money out of Congress for—not for border security or deportation, but for bringing illegal aliens into the country. Don’t believe me, believe Joe Biden campaign manager Julie Chávez Rodríguez. The president “is not advocating for shutting down the border,” she said, but for “order and humanity in our immigration system.”

That means any additional DHS agents hired with any new money Congress gives the department will chiefly be used to bring illegal immigrants more efficiently off the border and hand them off to nongovernmental organizations to move them inside the country.

Single adult illegal immigrants in San Diego are released at several spots after minimal screening. My colleague, Virginia Allen of The Daily Signal, and I waited at the Iris Avenue bus and tram stop until two unmarked buses chartered by the Border Patrol came to drop off aliens.

A row of cabdrivers was waiting for them. So were two young women from the Immigrant Defenders Law Center, who had snacks, legal advice, and a chartered bus to take released aliens to the airport. For Mandarin speakers with cash, there was also a row of Toyota Priuses driven by Chinese men looking for compatriots to solicit. The licensed cabdrivers I spoke to—who were legal immigrants from El Salvador, Somalia, and Ecuador—told me the Chinese drivers were operating illegal cabs.

Illegal immigrants in San Diego who just got off unmarked buses chartered by U.S. Border Patrol are released at a bus and tram stop to move further into the United States after minimal screening. For Mandarin speakers, a row of Toyota Priuses with Chinese cabdrivers await. (Photo: Simon Hankinson/The Heritage Foundation)

As soon as they got off the bus, many released aliens called friends and relatives. A group of Georgians searched for cigarettes. Lucky for them, an enterprising Chinese man was selling Denim brand smokes for $5 a pack. Once they’d scored Denims, the Georgians, a Turk, and some Russians resumed chain-smoking. One Georgian told me he was going to New York City, where DHS had set him up with a Notice to Appear in immigration court in September.

A young Ecuadorian man asked me if I knew where there was Wi-Fi. I pointed him toward another Chinese vendor advertising “Wi-Fi” on the windshield of his car. This is the new underground economy of mass illegal immigration—informal markets, no taxes, no regulations.

I saw many Indians—all Sikhs from the state of Punjab who looked similar to the small-town farm boys and laborers I interviewed for American visas 25 years ago in New Delhi. They told me they had flown to Managua, Nicaragua, because Indians don’t need visas to go there. Nicaragua’s Communist dictator Daniel Ortega gets rich off transit fees from those coming to Nicaragua from all over the world before they head off by bus through Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico to cross illegally into the U.S.

I spoke to one young Indian man—I’ll call him Sukhwinder. He would never have qualified for a U.S. tourist visa back home since he was clearly intending to work in the U.S. But with the Biden catch-and-release regime, he didn’t have to waste time and money to apply.

Sukhwinder told me he bought a package deal that brought him all the way from India to the U.S. via Nicaragua, bus and hotels included. He was going to Indiana to stay with his uncle, who had work lined up for him. Sukhwinder had no identity documents, only photos on his phone. The TSA would stop you and me cold in our tracks if we tried to board a plane with that, but it’s under orders to accept arrest documents like Notices to Appear from released aliens as valid ID.

DHS gave Sukhwinder an immigration court date for May 2024 in Van Nuys, California. But with no ID or driver’s license, what are the odds he’ll come back from Indiana for that? Why would he?

Illegal immigrants who claim they need asylum are allowed to stay in the U.S. until an immigration judge hears their case. They get a Notice to Appear in immigration court at some future date, often months or years away. Some never show up and just end up blending into the population. (Photo: Simon Hankinson/The Heritage Foundation)

Some of the aliens let off the bus were wearing GPS monitoring devices on their ankles.

Some illegal immigrants who were let off the bus wore GPS monitoring devices on their ankles as part of a program called Alternatives to Detention. Whether the devices remain on is another story altogether. (Photo: Simon Hankinson/The Heritage Foundation)

From what I could see, people from the ex-Soviet republics—Georgia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Chechnya—wore the GPS devices, while the Africans, Indians, and Latin Americans did not. The GPS trackers are part of a program called Alternatives to Detention, which, as this report explains, might work if the aliens wore them from their initial arrest through to the end of their immigration process. But as that process won’t begin for months and will then take years, that’s not going to happen. The GPS devices are mostly for show.

What Happens Then?

Some of those released by DHS at the border move in with relatives and support themselves with legal or illegal work. Some are still sleeping and eating in taxpayer-funded shelters, hotels, and even airports. Others have turned, or returned, to crime, like the Ibarra brothers from Venezuela, thought to be members of the Tren de Aragua gang. Jose Ibarra was arrested for the murder of college student Laken Riley in February.

Among those released at the border are millions of economic migrants, thousands of criminals, a handful of terrorists, and a few apparent morons.

In late March, for example, a Chinese illegal immigrant drove onto the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California, without identification or permission. Border Patrol agents eventually came to take him off the base. Likely he was a simpleton, not a spy, but who better than a simpleton to probe security at a U.S. military base?

So far in fiscal year 2024, more than 22,000 Chinese people have been caught at the southern border, 10 times as many as in 2022 and 50 times as many as in fiscal year 2021.

Then there’s this Venezuelan social media character, Leonel Moreno, who bragged about his blatant abuse of U.S. social services, advising other illegal aliens to illegally occupy the houses of Americans and take advantage of pro-“squatter” tenant protection laws. Moreno was caught in April 2022 near Eagle Pass, Texas, and released by DHS with a Notice to Appear.

He was enrolled in the Alternatives to Detention program but failed to show up for his appointment with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Perhaps this was one embarrassment too much for the Biden administration, as ICE actually arrested him. Maybe Moreno is exaggerating his abuse of public benefits, but the fact that we can’t tell reveals what a joke border policy has become.

As the catch-and-release farce goes on, our country’s leaders stick to their talking point: “DHS continues to enforce United States immigration laws, expanding lawful pathways while strengthening enforcement consequences for those who cross our border unlawfully. Individuals and families without a legal basis to remain in the U.S. are subject to removal.”

Tell it to the Marines (at Twentynine Palms).

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.

Read Other BorderLine Columns:

What I Saw on My Latest Visit to the Border

You Can’t Fool All of the People All of the Time About Immigration

Haiti: Here We Go Again

How ‘Sanctuary Cities’ Are Costing American Lives

Biden’s Catch-22—Continue Border Crisis or Fix It—Either Way, He Loses Support