The images that arrive daily from the southern border show that the situation there is chaotic and the humanitarian drama does not stop. This week a truck was found with more than 50 dead migrants. Meanwhile, the border authorities cannot deal with numerous migrants. In this context, the Supreme Court has ruled that the Biden administration can overturn the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), commonly known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy.
On account of that policy, migrants seeking to enter the United States across the border with Mexico had to remain in that country waiting for their hearings. The objective was not to allow migrants to be released in the United States without first having their cases analyzed, thus seeking greater security and also discouraging the arrival of new migrants. The Biden administration had already tried to repeal this policy, but a lower court had blocked it. Today, the Supreme Court decided that Biden may end the “Remain in Mexico” program.
To discuss what this decision means and the consequences Biden’s policies will have on the southern border, today we speak with Chad Wolf, former Acting Secretary of Homeland Security and Executive Director and Chair of the Center for Homeland Security and Immigration at America First Policy Institute.
The Supreme Court decided today that the Biden administration can repeal the Trump-era policy, commonly known as ‘Remain in Mexico’. What do you think about this Court decision and how will this decision affect the current situation on the border?
Yeah, well, obviously I’m disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision. I think it’s important to note that the decision simply allows the Biden administration to cancel the program. What it doesn’t do, is talk about the merits of the MPP program itself. So that’s not what the Court decided. I think it’s still a very valuable program. I think that the facts and the statistics demonstrate that border patrol agents like the program, and law enforcement officers like the program.
I think at the end of the day, if the Biden administration does pull down the MPP, I think you are likely going to see a further surge of individuals to the border because what cartels and others will use this decision to advertise to migrants that there is now no possibility, zero possibility of being enrolled in MPP. And that’s going to incentivize more and more to come to the border. So I think at the end of the day, it’s a bad policy that the Biden administration has taken.
This week, more than 50 migrants died in a truck. What responsibility do you think the Biden administration has in this tragedy?
That was a human smuggling case. So I think a lot of the policies or the lack of policies over the past 15 or 16 months from the Biden administration are fueling a lot of the human trafficking and the suffering that we see along that border. So the event in San Antonio that you reference with over 50 unfortunate casualties, I think, is a byproduct of the Biden administration’s policies.
Their policies are encouraging and incentivizing more and more individuals to come to that border because they know the Biden administration has essentially said that if you get into the U.S., you will not be removed. You’re no longer at priority for removal. And so, unfortunately, I think what we’re seeing is more and more migrants are putting their lives in the hands of smugglers and cartels. And we certainly see that with the individuals in that tractor-trailer. They were desperate to take that journey, but they did so with the knowledge that the Biden administration, if caught, would never remove them back to their home countries.
What is really happening at the border? Because the Biden administration insists that the border is closed, but this week 50 people died. What is the real situation there?
Yeah, so I think when you hear the White House Press Secretary or even the Secretary of Homeland Security talk about how the border is closed, the border is secure, and that the U.S. government has operational control over the border, I think all of that is a lie. And I think the majority of Americans would agree with that.
When you have over 239,000 illegal apprehensions in 130-day period, just below the population of Dallas, Texas. And you have probably another 60,000 individuals that we never encounter in a given month, you don’t know if they’re economic migrants, you don’t know if they’re public safety threats; if they’re national security threats. So this idea that you could say that the border is closed is a farce. And I don’t think that this administration is being honest with the American people. I think they’re trying to hide the fact that the border is wide open. And I think that’s very dangerous.
I think you need to be upfront with the American people. You need to talk about the challenges, and then you have to make some hard decisions and you need to provide leadership in making those hard decisions. This administration has done none of that.
What do you think is the strategy of the Democrat Party? Because before elections, they always promise to give more humane treatment to migrants, but what we see right now at the border is heartbreaking. So do they even have a plan?
Well, that’s a great question. If they do have a plan and a strategy, I would say it’s failing and it’s failing in historic proportions. I think the only thing that they can point to is the ability or at least the desire to process more and more individuals into the country as quickly as they can. They talk about processing times, they talk about backlogs, but they don’t really address the underlying problem, which is the illegal nature of the activity. And if you’re not going to deter that, if you’re not going to put in consequences to illegal activity, then you’re going to have more and more individuals coming to the country.
To put this in perspective, before the Biden administration, we had one month, that was back in March of 2000, where we reached over 200,000 illegal apprehensions in one month, that was since we started keeping track of numbers, one month. In the Biden administration, we’re up to five different months now that have over 200,000 illegal apprehensions.
So, I think it’s pretty clear that their strategy is not working, but they continue to double down on it. So in the midst of the worst historic border crisis that we have ever experienced, this administration decides to say that not only is MPP the wrong approach, and we’re going to cancel it. But they doubled down in fighting that at the Supreme Court. And it’s going to send exactly the wrong message to would-be migrants and others that it’s okay to come here to the United States because you won’t be removed. So I think their strategy is a flawed one. I don’t think it’s very effective, and I think the vast majority of Americans don’t agree with it.
What does this crisis at the border mean in terms of national security for the United States? Is the humanitarian drama that is unfolding a threat in terms of security for the country?
Well, of course, there is. I think a lot of what gets covered on the news is we talk about economic migrants and we talk a lot about families and children coming across that border. But make no mistake about it, that is not the only population group coming across that border. There are public safety threats. There are national security threats embedded in the flow and the distorted flow that we’re seeing today. And Border Patrol no longer has the resources to look for those threats because they’re simply processing more and more individuals.
I believe the DHS Secretary was asked a question a month or so ago, and he admitted that it is likely that they are admitting criminals into the country because they don’t have the resources to screen and vet these individuals coming across the border. So I think that really says it all. And unfortunately, a lot of these threats may not materialize today. It may be months and years from now, but you can bet that there are public safety and national security threats coming across that border every single day that Border Patrol is doing their very best, but they’re not given the resources of the policies for them to do their job effectively.
Vanessa Vallejo. Co-editor-in-chief of El American. Economist. Podcaster. Political and economic analysis of America. Colombian exile in the United States // Vanessa Vallejo. Co-editora en jefe de El American. Economista. Podcaster. Análisis político y económico de América. Colombiana exiliada en EE. UU.