Crisis Engulfs Border as ICE Official Warns We're About to See the Highest Numbers in Decades


Joe Biden made it clear during the campaign that he was going to do, if not a total 180 from Donald Trump’s immigration policies, as close to a full about-face as you could go while still maintaining some form of sovereignty.

When Biden won the presidency, his nascent administration quickly discovered one of his first major problems involved migrants who actually took him seriously. Just before the inauguration, administration officials warned migrants they “need to understand they’re not going to be able to come into the United States immediately” and that they “will not find when they get to the U.S. border that from Tuesday to Wednesday, things have changed overnight and ports are all open and they can come into the United States.”

“There’s help on the way, but now is not the time to make the journey,” the official told NBC News.

I’m guessing that message didn’t get through, because now our southern border is so clogged that, in the midst of a pandemic, according to The Washington Post, we’re on the verge of turning family detention centers in Texas into “Ellis Island-style rapid-processing hubs” so that we can get migrant parents and children processed and released into the United States within 72 hours.

The Post reported last week that the plan is being formulated to deal with a crush of families and unaccompanied minors not seen in two decades.

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In an email obtained by The Post, Russell Hott, a senior official with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, described the plan to turn the detention centers into processing facilities but warned they might not be enough to keep up with the influx of migrants trying to claim asylum in the United States.

In the Thursday email, Hott wrote that the numbers of families and unaccompanied minors at the border “are expected to be the highest numbers observed in over 20 years.”

The numbers for January provide an unpleasant augury for what we’re going to see at the border during the Biden years.

The Post reported that 78,000 arrests and detentions were made along the southern border in January. That’s the highest number for January in over 10 years and double the number apprehended last year.

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So, how to deal with this? The DHS email obtained by The Post describes converting the detention centers into “Ellis Island-style rapid-processing hubs that will screen migrant parents and children with a goal of releasing them into the United States within 72 hours.”

And even then, that might not work.

Hott wrote in the email that if Border Patrol agents continue to apprehend over 500 family members a day, the processing centers “may not be sufficient to keep pace with apprehensions.”

Beyond the logistical problems a crush at the border creates, virtually no one covering this story bothers to note the dark underside to it.

The assumption one gets when reading these pieces is that the major issue involves the logistics of the apprehensions. There isn’t much rumination on what these apprehensions mean.

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These are family families who bring along children on a dangerous, arduous trek to the border, a trek that often involves human trafficking. Keep in mind, too, that these families are primarily coming from Central America — countries like Honduras and El Salvador. These aren’t families commuting from border towns, taking a short walk to the port of entry and requesting asylum.

And why would you subject a child to this?

One reason, quite simply, is that you get processed into the country quicker if you have a child in tow. This is the DHS strategy: If you arrive as a family, you’re processed as quickly as possible and released into the interior of the United States. Sure, the journey may not be easy for the child, but it can make adult illegal immigrants lives a lot easier once they get here.

And that’s assuming it’s a family we’re dealing with as opposed to a “family.” It’s an uncomfortable fact, but it’s a fact nonetheless: Smugglers use children to bypass detention, since court-imposed policy known as the Flores Settlement limits the amount of time they can be held.

Yet, nobody in the Biden administration came up with a plan to deal with this crush of individuals that includes unaccompanied minors, families and “families.” Instead, they’re now just getting around to creating “Ellis Island-style rapid-processing hubs.”

This almost seems like a feature of the new administration’s immigration policy, not a bug.

And yet, stuff like this sounded so good when it came from the future president’s Twitter account:

“This is pretty simple, and I can’t believe I have to say it: Families belong together,” Biden wrote in June.

Now, Biden and his administration are finding out the hard realities of asylum, illegal immigration and processing individuals and their claims, particularly after a poorly considered promise to abrogate Trump’s immigration policies without a reasonable plan to replace them.

Then, when they realized migrants were taking this seriously, they tried to talk them out of it. Seriously, wait a little while, guys! We’ll get this sorted out, we promise. In the meantime, hang tight.

Well, they didn’t.

This is pretty simple, and I can’t believe I have to say it: Illegal immigration is illegal for a reason and asylum claims should be processed in the country of origin.

Thanks to the left and the NeverTrumpers on the right, the country now has a president who acts as though he doesn’t believe either one of those things. And the country is finding out the hard way that reality can’t just be ignored, particularly as we’re now preparing for record-shattering arrivals at the border in the midst of a pandemic.

Good work.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture