As illegal immigration numbers skyrocket, the Biden administration’s new strategy will only make matters worse. According to multiple experts, the new plan threatens both national security and the American economy.
Instead of prioritizing deportation or border security, President Joe Biden will institute a backdoor policy reclassifying immigrants as asylum-seekers for U.S. entry. In other words, instead of pursuing policies that would reduce the number of undocumented immigrants, Biden has opted to simply reclassify them. Therefore, while the number of “illegals” may go down, that isn’t because fewer are crossing the border — it’s because more of them will now be classified as “asylees.”
Some immigration law experts argued this plan could further weaken American borders by “flooding the system.” Since those who request asylum are eligible for various welfare benefits in the U.S., this new strategy could also strain American taxpayers in the process.
In separate interviews with The Western Journal, former director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Ronald Vitiello and immigration specialist Julie Kirchner discussed the forthcoming policy.
Vitiello, whose professional career in immigration law enforcement lasted over 30 years, said the possible asylum system would only add to the nation’s immigration crisis by allowing aliens to more easily claim asylum status. He said many immigrants claimed to be asylees during his time in ICE and Customs and Border Protection.
“Not only are they unqualified, but they don’t follow up on their claims,” Vitiello said. “They use that as a tactic to be released at the border, and they come into the United States.”
An “asylee” refers to anyone who requests asylum while already in the U.S., as opposed to refugees who are outside the country. Both asylees and refugees can apply for asylum.
To qualify, aliens must be coming to the U.S. to escape some form of persecution from a third-world country. The federal asylum law, or 8 U.S. Code 1158, defines persecution as suffering due to “race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.” Escaping a country’s poor economic conditions is excluded from the law’s definition of persecution, Vitiello said.
“When I was still in government when we did surveys, people were coming for economic reasons,” he said. “We certainly understand that, as human beings, they’re trying to make their lives better, but they don’t qualify for asylum.”
If immigrants are in fact coming for economic reasons, Biden will give them exactly what they want — free money paid for by American taxpayers.
In 2007, The Heritage Foundation estimated that immigrant families received an average of $30,160 per year in government benefits while only paying $10,573 in taxes. That still left upwards of $20,000 to be paid by higher-income taxpayers. These numbers are likely higher 15 years later when factoring in current U.S. inflation rates.
“The Crush of Humanity”
The new system without ample Border Patrol agents would further contribute to the border crisis, what Vitiello called a “crush of humanity.”
Almost a quarter of a million immigrants encountered law enforcement agents at the southern border per month from March to June 2022, bringing the total number to just over 906,000 encounters in those four months alone. This data was gathered from CBP’s Southwest Land Border Encounters statistics webpage.
With three months left, fiscal year 2022 has seen 1,746,119 border encounters compared to 458,088 in fiscal year 2020. This total includes over 500,000 “gotaway” immigrants, who are spotted entering the U.S. but are never caught by Border Patrol, since the start of October 2021, the Department of Homeland Security told Fox News in July.
Vitiello believes Biden has no intention of stopping nor reducing these record-high numbers and said the online asylum process would effectively “overflow the system” even more than it currently is.
“It’s pretty clear to me that this administration has no desire to use the laws that are on the books as it relates to immigration enforcement or the application of law between the points as it relates to border security,” the former DHS official said.
Undermining the Current System
Kirchner agreed with Vitiello’s sentiment, that the Biden administration is deliberately circumventing current immigration law to advocate for an open border. She said that expanding the online waitlist for asylum-seekers is completely “unnecessary” and “counter-productive” since the country already has a working refugee system in place.
“The refugee process offers individuals the same protection from persecution as the asylum system, but is designed to handle aliens who are abroad and not at our borders,” Kirchner said. “The refugee system is far preferable from that standpoint in that individuals seeking refugee status are vetted before the arrive in the U.S.”
In contrast, the proposed asylum system could “challenge America’s ability to keep terrorists and criminals out,” she said.
During her career, Kirchner previously served as the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman at DHS during the Trump administration, Senior Advisor to the Commissioner of CBP and Executive Director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
Kirchner said the online asylum system sounds like a “massive expansion of the process” known as metering. This policy, which limits the number of daily crossings for security purposes, serves as an online waitlist for immigrants on the Mexican side of the border who typically intend to claim asylum as they cross into the U.S.
Even though Biden formally ended the metering policy in November 2021, CBP continued denying asylum requests due to the queue’s long lines, according to Texas Public Radio. For context, Sen. James Lankford, who first warned about the Biden administration’s new plan, revealed the asylum system is currently backlogged by eight years.
“Thus, expanding the metering system to allow anyone anywhere in the world to apply not only circumvents the refugee system, there is little promise that it will restore order to the border,” Kirchner said.
In addition, stress would be placed upon airports if the online asylum system was successfully established. According to CBP’s Traveler and Conveyance Statistics webpage, roughly 690,000 immigrants flew into the U.S. so far in fiscal year 2022. Though these immigration numbers are not as high as those at the southern border, that doesn’t mean airports will never see a drastic increase in the future once the new system is put in place.
Unlimited Immigration vs. Limited Government
Besides the apparent national security threat, the American economy would further suffer as a result due to the unprecedented volume of immigrants claiming asylum. According to the Administration for Children and Families, asylees could qualify for Supplemental Security Income, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Medicaid, among other government services.
Access to these welfare programs by a surplus of immigrants would place a greater burden on higher-income taxpayers, as Heritage noted above. Even open-border advocate Julian Simon said that economically overburdening American citizens is a bad idea.
If unrestrained immigration continues to be the ongoing trend, the American economy would be unable to sustain itself, or as economist Milton Friedman once said, “you can’t have free immigration and a welfare state.”
This convoluted and unworkable plan would hurt America in the long run as it would release immigrants into the U.S. before adjudicating their claims, further threatening the federal government’s control over the crisis.
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