This week, the Biden administration began to feel the heat on immigration for the first time.
Due to the fact the new president is pushing eventual amnesty for illegal immigrants who were in the country prior to Jan. 1 and is looking to expand the refugee resettlement program, there’s been an influx of migrants trying to enter the United States. This includes a number of unaccompanied minors who have to be quarantined and processed before they’re apportioned to sponsors.
Because of a lack of capacity, the Biden administration was forced to reopen a facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas, for illegal immigrant minors awaiting placement.
The optics, as they say, weren’t spectacular:
These are pictures from the Carrizo Springs facility. Yes, it was widely considered one of the best of the existing detention facilities. But it’s still a jail at the end of the day, & keeping children there for any extended period is a crime. Things don’t have to be like this. https://t.co/lggYYGkGt4 pic.twitter.com/qnuP2CoLTq
— Sturgeon’s Law (@Sturgeons_Law) February 23, 2021
Perhaps President Joe Biden and his team knew this was coming. Perhaps they were fully aware that their immigration policy wasn’t going to be the slam dunk with progressives they imagined it would be. Or maybe they just wanted the fastest way to avoid any kind of “kids in cages” narrative taking hold again.
Whatever the case, they’re just going to avoid the publicity altogether and fly (or, in some cases, bus) unaccompanied minors to homes throughout the United States.
According to Breitbart, the Department of Health and Human Services said its Office of Refugee Resettlement has “authorized programs to pay transport fees for unaccompanied children (including airline tickets), including escort transport (where necessary by airline or ORR policy) in order to facilitate release of children to approved sponsors.”
“ORR care providers are authorized to use program funds to purchase airline tickets in the event that a sponsor is not able to pay fees associated with commercial airfare, and a child’s physical release would be otherwise delayed,” read the statement, reported Thursday.
And, at the very least, it means one (costly) sector of the commercial aviation market is booming.
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is scrambling to find bigger airplanes and figure out more ground transport capacity for soaring numbers of illegal immigrants,” The Washington Times reported this week.
“New Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told ICE that cost is no issue, and to cancel contracts and sign new ones without worry about the price tag, according to the email from ICE Chief of Staff Timothy Perry,” the report said. “Mr. Mayorkas said he is also pondering diverting money from the border wall ‘to backfill budgets later,’ the email said.”
Of course this involves the border wall.
Even though this influx was totally predictable and preventable, especially if the Biden administration wanted to work with Mexico and other Central American partners, it’s now scurrying to find the best-looking solution to the problem, price be damned.
“We need to prepare for border surges now,” Perry said in an email to top Immigration and Customs Enforcement leadership. “We need to begin making changes immediately. We should privilege action over cost considerations; do what is needed, and the department will work on funding afterward.”
Furthermore, he said in his email that he wants to move the migrants as far into the interior as possible so as to spread processing out evenly.
“ICE should increase the cadence of its transport and arrange for individuals to complete their processing and ATD’ing at processing centers north of the border,” Perry wrote.
ATD, or alternatives to detention, involves releasing migrants into the community with stipulations such as checking in with authorities.
At this point, the Biden administration seems to be saying the surge at the southern border will either be ugly or expensive to deal with. It’s likely to be both, at least if the events of this week serve as a yardstick.
“This isn’t about a backlog,” Rosemary Jenks, policy director at the immigration control lobby group NumbersUSA, told Breitbart.
“This is about Biden’s policies creating a border surge. … They’re getting exactly what we all knew they were going to get which is more people coming across, including more unaccompanied children. So now they’re trying to figure out what to do with them because you know [New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] and others are so unhappy with their ‘kids in containers’ policy that they’ve got to fly them away from the border so nobody notices them.”
On the campaign trail, Biden had promised to undo the Trump administration’s immigration controls as soon as possible. This quickly morphed into a chorus of administration officials saying a substantive change wouldn’t happen “overnight.”
“This is not the time to come,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki reiterated Tuesday.
“We don’t — we have not had the time to put in place an immigration system, an immigration policy,” she said during a media briefing. “We don’t have the processing we need at the border. Obviously, we’re continuing to struggle with facilities to ensure that we’re abiding by COVID protocols. So this is definitely not the time to come.”
Biden has said he’ll need “probably the next six months” to fully end Trump policies such as “Remain in Mexico,” which requires asylum seekers to remain south of the border while their cases are being adjudicated. As The New York Times pointed out once he began hedging in December, candidate Biden had promised to reverse those Trump-era policies quickly.
For right now, while flying newly arrived illegal aliens around the country might be a very expensive way to shift the problem out of sight, NumbersUSA’s Jenks said it’ll ultimately backfire. She said that while the Biden administration wants “anyone from around the world to come here as fast as they possibly can,” it’s not prepared for what’s going to happen when they get here.
“Former President Obama knows that because when he was flying the unaccompanied children all over the country, all hell broke loose and governors started complaining, and citizens started complaining,” Jenks said. “I don’t see how anyone with a memory … would call that a win.”
Leaving aside bad-taste jokes about Joe Biden and memory, none of this is about long-term planning or addressing the problem. What the administration is addressing, instead, is blowback like this:
I’m not going to argue semantics. It’s a detention center. Anything that is designed as such can be argued to be a prison. These are images of the Carrizo Springs detention center that we’re talking about. This is why I said your solution is functionally the same pic.twitter.com/7u3pUGvzvn
— Eldritch (@EldritchProctor) February 23, 2021
— Faith J. Williams (@FJWilliamsDC) February 24, 2021
The Biden administration is focused on putting out this activist-lighted fire as fast as possible, cost be damned.
Forget about questioning how it’s going to put out the next fire or how this is setting up a longer-term game of whack-a-mole.
If the Biden administration’s initial border policy exists in a constant state of quick fixes when all of this could have been anticipated and prepared for, ICE Airways will be the least of our concerns.
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