Joseph Simonson, The Biden administration is telling immigration agents to prepare to process hundreds of thousands of migrant families and asylum claims as the White House moves to reverse Trump-era border and coronavirus policies, according to internal documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
A senior federal official who spoke with the Free Beacon expects Biden to end Title 42—a law used by former president Trump’s Centers for Disease Control to block migrants from entering the country—sometime this month. As part of the preparation for that policy reversal, senior Department of Homeland Security officials warned staff that they will have to process up to 1,200 family units a day. That number of family units works out to 312,000 a year, assuming the border does not see any future surges. Following their release from custody, those migrants are in effect free to stay, said one DHS official, because many immigrants skip their immigration court hearings sometimes scheduled two years after they are initially detained.
“Border Patrol agents, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and customs officers are stretched thin trying to protect and secure our border,” said the official. “Asking them to process roughly 6,000 people a week undoubtedly strain already thin resources and increase human trafficking and drug smuggling.”
The internal directive further damaged morale within national security agencies where staff already feel overwhelmed with initiatives ordered by the Biden administration. These policies all seem focused on the singular purpose of letting in as many migrants as possible and forcing staff attention away from security threats entering the country.
Those who spoke with the Free Beacon described an agency undergoing a dramatic transformation under Biden and Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Some now question their mission as they prepare for humanitarian crises on the border after the end of Title 42 and Trump’s “Remain in Mexico Policy.”
“All of these people will become permanent residents. There’s no political will from the Biden administration to deport families once they’re already admitted. The White House knows that,” a DHS official said. “The end of Title 42 will result in de facto open borders.”
Agents on the southern border noted that the president and the CDC are warning about the COVID-19 Delta variant while the federal government ends critical policies that allowed law enforcement to ensure migrants who carry disease are not allowed entry into the country. At the same time, Mayorkas has taken a harsher attitude toward Cubans and Haitians wishing to escape chaos and violence in their home countries.
“The time is never right to attempt migration by sea,” Mayorkas said Tuesday. “To those who risk their lives doing so, this risk is not worth taking. Allow me to be clear: If you take to the sea, you will not come to the United States.”
One individual familiar with internal agency discussions said the Biden administration’s dismissive approach to Cuban and Haitian migrants is shaped in part by the agency’s limited resources. The job of processing thousands of migrants per week on the southern border will require an all-hands effort from immigration officials that leaves little flexibility to address a potential surge from those trying to escape the dueling Caribbean crises.
“The heavy lifting we’ve been doing since January portends that this is unlike anything we’ve ever seen, especially because we’re utilizing Border Patrol and discussing bringing in ICE to help. The lift across all of DHS is pretty unprecedented,” an individual familiar with the plan said.
Neither the Biden administration nor Department of Homeland Security returned requests for comment.