Newly minted Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Mike Johnson visited the Texas-Mexico border on Wednesday, punctuating the appearance with unsubstantiated claims about the Biden Administration’s border policy.
“Under President Biden, America has laid out a welcome mat to illegal immigrants, smugglers and cartels,” Johnson said. “He is responsible for the grave threat to our national security and our nation’s sovereignty that these policies have created. But instead of taking responsibility and providing leadership, this administration has done nothing but attack elected officials who are trying to fix this catastrophe.”
Let’s go through Johnson’s remarks.
Johnson and Governor Greg Abbott have repeatedly accused the Biden Administration of intentionally allowing thousands of undocumented migrants to cross the border. This is false.
Biden’s actions as president to secure the border have included a novel set of approaches that have wildly reduced the number of illegal crossings. The include harsh rules for asylum seekers that required they prove they sought official recognition in other countries before coming to the United States. This resulted in a 70 percent drop in arrests since May 11. Biden also started a program that allowed refugees to enter the country legally under parole conditions from several Central and South American countries. That program alone has prevented nearly 400,000 illegal entries according to the conservative Manhattan Institute.
What is true is that the Biden Administration opposes several actions taken by Governor Greg Abbott, such as widespread arrests and razor wire fences. These actions, collectively known as Operation Lone Star, have been ineffective, though remain extremely popular with conservatives regardless.
“Smugglers and Cartels”
Similar is the idea that the Biden Administration has been idle on fighting smugglers and drug cartels. The Department of Homeland Security is currently involved in the largest anti-human smuggling effort in history. The administration has been using technological resources to curtail smuggling, especially warning potential human cargo of the lies used by smugglers to lure them into the enterprise.
As far as the deadly drug cartels are concerned, Biden has been active there, too. In August, the administration announced major sanctions on all cartel business interests controlled by the United States. The executive order targeted 170 known cartel leaders, depriving them of the necessary financial resources used to move illegal narcotics across the border.
It is true that border crossings have surged under Biden, reaching record highs in 2021 and 2022. Some of that can undoubtedly be laid at the change in policy from former President Donald Trump, with migrants believing that they may be more welcomed under Biden.
However, the surge in undocumented immigration has many sources. Most of the countries where migrants are coming from are fleeing systemic oppression and destabilization, a product of generations of American involvement in the region propping up extremist dictators to fight leftist political movements for business interests. The flood of refugees has overwhelmed the Mexican government, leading to inadequate response and more families trekking north for safety. Failure to accept asylum seekers through proper channels leads to long delays, which prompts desperate people to cross illegally. Harsh expulsion and control methods tend to simply exacerbate the problem, not fix it.
“Grave Threat to National Security”
There has never been any evidence that illegal immigration is a national security threat. Following 9/11, many claimed that terrorists would use the illegal southern border crossings to enter the United States to carry out attacks. That never happened.
Extensive research shows that migrants do not commit more crime, add to poverty, burden social services (aside from those dealing exclusively with illegal immigration), or otherwise endanger America any more than the native population. Usually, they commit less crime, though isolated instances are often used to fire up anti-immigrant sentiment.
“Attack Elected Officials Who are Trying to Fix This Catastrophe”
This likely refers to the Biden Administration’s opposition to Abbott’s actions. Whether Abbott is legitimately trying to fix immigration is a matter of opinion, but there is little doubt that his actions haven’t actually done it. Illegal crossings have spiked where his Operation Lone Star have been most active, and there have been frequent successful legal challenges to his arrests. Abbott’s bussing of migrants to Democratically controlled cities has been little more than a publicity stunt and certainly hasn’t reduced illegal immigration. There is a fair amount of evidence that Abbott’s actions are a usurpation of federal authority concerning the border, which makes Biden’s opposition to them a matter of law, not personal politics.