Originally appeared on The Daily Signal.
By: Jarret Stepman
The historic level of illegal immigration on the southern border is likely to get much worse, if that’s possible.
On Wednesday, a federal judge declared that the Biden administration had to end Title 42 by Dec. 21. The ruling came from Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1994.
The Biden administration requested a five-week pause on the order, which was granted.
Title 42 is a health policy, created in the 1940s and implemented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It was invoked by then-President Donald Trump, allowing the quick deportation of illegal immigrants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The policy has bounced around in the courts for a while. The Left hates it, and the Biden administration clearly had little interest in maintaining it.
Title 42’s imminent end is not ideal, to say the least. In particular, it’s not ideal for those who want to contain an already exploding border crisis.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported more than 230,000 border encounters in October alone, a record. According to Fox News, CBP also estimated there were about 64,000 “gotaways” in October, as well. Those are illegal border-crossers who weren’t apprehended.
The October numbers weren’t even an outlier. There were 2.76 million illegal border-crossers in fiscal year 2022, another record. It shattered the previous record of 1.82 million crossings, set last year. So, the total number of border-crossers apprehended is more than the populations of half of all U.S. states. And those are just the apprehensions. Again, an untold number of other illegal immigrants crossed the border without being caught.
Nearly 100 people on the terrorist watchlist were apprehended at the border this year. Given the sheer numbers we’re seeing, it’s easy to see how others could have slipped through.
So, the two most prolific years for illegal immigration in American history happened under President Joe Biden. It’s a crisis by any measure. But the message we’ve been getting from the people in charge of enforcing our border laws is that all is well.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and other members of the administration continue to insist the border is “secure.” This makes one wonder whether there is literally any metric that would render it “unsecure” by Biden administration standards. The number of crossings we’re seeing at the southern border are breaking monthly and yearly records. It’s been decades since we’ve seen anything like it.
With the elimination of Title 42, the bad situation will almost certainly get worse. The administration says it has a “plan” to deal with the end of Title 42 and the expected surge in Venezuelan migrants heading for the U.S.-Mexican border.
What is that plan?
Mayorkas said at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on Thursday that the plan was “building a lawful pathway for them to arrive safely and in an orderly way to the United States” alongside a “consequence regime should they not avail themselves of that lawful pathway”—whatever that means.
It’s hard to take the administration seriously on the “consequence regime” when the administration’s rhetoric and actions suggest that they are entirely comfortable with millions of people breaking U.S. law.
One of Biden’s first actions when he came into office in January 2021 was theend of the “Remain in Mexico” policy implemented under Trump. That policy required that asylum-seekers remain in Mexico while their asylum claims were adjudicated. That discouraged bogus asylum claimants and tamped down the number of people crossing the border.
In a July deposition in Florida, Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz acknowledgedthat the Biden administration had caused the drastic increase in people illegally crossing the southern border. It’s due to the administration signaling that there will be minimal or no consequences for lawbreakers.
While one can certainly hope that the Biden administration will suddenly change course, it’s little more than a fool’s hope—especially now that the midterm elections have passed.
Jarrett Stepman is a columnist for The Daily Signal. He is also the author of the book “The War on History: The Conspiracy to Rewrite America’s Past.”