Several current and former border officials believe the Biden administration is misleading the American public about the numbers of migrants encountered by federal authorities at the southern border after the expiration of Title 42, the Trump-era expulsion order, on May 11.
The Biden administration has touted its recent expansion of programs granting legal entry, an increase in deportation flights, its deal with Mexico to expel certain migrants and increases in penalties for entry without a legal basis as its reasons for why border numbers have declined since their peak last week. However, migrant encounters are still abnormally high and the Biden administration is legalizing migrants who would otherwise come illegally, the former and current border officials told the DCNF.
The Biden administration increased the number of available appointments each day for legal entry via the CBP One process to 1,000 earlier this month. This is part of “a shell game” to claim migrant encounters are down while allowing more entrances at legal ports of entry, former U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) acting Commissioner Mark Morgan told the DCNF.
“It’s bullshit,” Morgan said.
“We’re still in the middle of the worst self inflicted border security crisis in our lifetime, and they’re trying to claim victory,” Morgan added.
Border authorities aren’t turning away any migrants using the CBP One phone app, one of the Biden administration’s legal pathways, to claim asylum at ports of entry, DHS immigration official Blas Nunez Neto told reporters on a phone call Wednesday.
“We continue to see encouraging signs that the measures we have put in place are working as a reminder, these measures combined strengthened consequences for unlawful entry at the land border with a significant expansion of lawful pathways for people to come directly to the United States in a safe and orderly manner,” Nunez Neto said.
Morgan emphasized that the latest migrant apprehension numbers are still high at the southern border despite being lower relative to the record-setting days that preceded Title 42’s expiration.
Arizona Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb, who recently launched a Senate campaign, echoed Morgan’s sentiment about numbers remaining at high levels.
“It’s kind of like gas prices. You run the gas prices up to $5 and then you drop it back to $4. You brag about it, but it was still $2 higher than what it was before,” Lamb told the DCNF.
“It wasn’t as bad as what they expected it to be. But it is still bad,” Lamb added.
In the days leading up to Title 42’s end on May 11, Border Patrol agents encountered a record surge of roughly 10,000 migrants per day, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told CNN on Sunday. Border Patrol apprehended roughly 4,000 migrants in the last couple of days, Nunez Neto said.
For comparison, in 2019, former DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, who served during the Obama administration, said that 4,000 arrests per day constituted a “crisis.”
Despite the still sky-high numbers of migrants crossing the southern border, the Biden administration has attempted to portray its policies as having achieved success.
President Joe Biden told reporters Tuesday that the situation at the southern border is “much better.”
While Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told CNN that “it’s too early” to say for sure if numbers will stay down, the low encounters can be attributed to the expansion of legal pathways and heftier consequences associated with illegal entries.
“The numbers that we have experienced are markedly down over what they were prior to the end of Title 42,” Mayorkas said.
There are roughly 100,000 migrants waiting south of the border to enter the U.S., but both the cartels and the Mexican government are “metering” their entry north, National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd told the DCNF.
“Because of how bad it was gonna be for business, they started metering it,” Judd told the DCNF.
The efforts of Texas officials in deterring large groups of migrants attempting to cross the southern border illegally in recent days has also decreased the overall number of migrants crossing the border, Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Lieutenant Christopher Olivarez told the DCNF.
Texas DPS blocking migrants from entering – rare footage pic.twitter.com/Dw7lE6IbrQ
— Todd Bensman (@BensmanTodd) May 10, 2023
“The deterrence posture from Texas DPS and National Guard diverting large groups to the port of entry, increased enforcement from authorities in Mexico, and more migrants arriving at the ports of entry to claim asylum. Some areas along the border experienced severe weather over the weekend and the President from Mexico visited areas along the Mexico-Texas border which also could cause a decline in illegal entries between the ports of entry,” Olivarez said.
“Criminal smuggling organizations in Mexico are closely monitoring what action, policy, and strategy the United States is doing in regards to mass migration. They will simply shift tactics and find other alternatives to get migrants into the country. As a state agency we are still experiencing human and drug smuggling, and apprehending those illegal immigrants who evade capture,” he said.
Neither the White House nor DHS responded to requests for comment.
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