Former Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf took apart the Biden administration’s narrative that the border crisis resulted from Trump-era policies. Wolf called what is currently going on at the border an “unprecedented crisis.” The border is experiencing a 20-year high in apprehensions, and the Biden administration is taking steps that decrease security, like releasing illegal crossers into the country without a court date, and pulling resources, such as FEMA, to the border. Both of these are things the department has never done before.
In the Rio Grande Valley, Wolf reports that rates of reassignment of Border Patrol officers are around 50% to provide care for the unprecedented number of unaccompanied minors. This reallocation of resources makes the border less secure, and the agents are not performing their national security mission. Cartels know this is happening and are taking advantage of it to increase their human and drug trafficking activity.
The concern here is when you have so many folks that are in border control facilities and coming over, and there is no end in sight for this. The more that come over the more you have to take care of. And there is a responsibility that the department has to make sure that these individuals are cared for before they’re either turned over the HHS, or released, or repatriated back to their home countries. But when you see such a surge, such a high number of individuals coming over, border patrol doesn’t have that capacity, so they have to pull people in from other positions to do that. And when you do that you take away the capability that they should be doing, sort of their everyday job. Their national security mission.
Wolf rejected the idea that this is just another annual high period that has nothing to do with policy. With a recorded 100,000 apprehensions in February, predictions for March are even higher. He also noted that those totals are just the ones Border Patrol is catching at a rate of 4,000 to 4,500 per day. Imaging and cameras indicate another 1,000 to 1,500 illegal crossers that Border Patrol never sees.
Most are coming to seek asylum, so Wolf clarified what qualifying for that protection requires. It is not reuniting with family, high crime in the home country, natural disasters, or economic needs. Asylum is to protect those suffering from persecution based on factors such as their religion, ethnicity, or political views. Only a small percentage of illegal border crossers qualify under asylum, even unaccompanied children.
Yet, the Biden administration policies encourage people to drain their life savings, enter the U.S. indebted to criminal organizations, and take a dangerous journey rife with physical and sexual abuse, only to have their asylum claims denied by an immigration judge. Allowing this to continue is not decent, moral, or humane. Wolf clearly explained how the Biden administration dismantled a system of protocols that worked together to prevent people without valid claims from attempting the journey or sending their children.
He noted that the Biden administration is still using some of the Trump-era strategies. It operates temporary shelters, hotels, and uses Title 42, which allows Border Patrol to turn people around at the border due to the pandemic. It is also leaning on Mexico to assist with the flow of illegal migrants traveling through the country. President Trump threatened tariffs if Mexico did not secure its southern border.
The Biden administration dismantled the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also called the Remain in Mexico policy, almost immediately. Wolf asserted that this reduced asylum fraud. People with legitimate claims and credible fear were willing to stay in Mexico to wait for their cases to be heard. According to Wolf, those without a legitimate claim, anywhere from 85-90%, were more likely to return home.
This protocol sped up the hearing process. The Trump administration heard more claims from 2017 to 2019 than any three years in the Obama administration. COVID created a backlog when immigration courts shut down as other courts in the country did. Wolf said that if there is concern about facilities in Mexico, the U.S. can provide financial assistance to improve them. The answer is not to let people cross and reinstitute catch-and-release as the Biden team has done.
Negotiated international agreements, or Asylum Cooperative Agreements (ACA), another critical feature that Biden ended quickly, created a functioning asylum request system in safe areas of Central American countries. While the Trump administration ended the Central American Minors program due to the level of resources required to process a low number of claims, children could also claim asylum under ACAs. Oddly, the Biden administration is talking about creating ways for people to apply for asylum closer to home after dismantling that exact system negotiated by the Trump administration.
The flow of illegal migrants will only stop, according to Wolf, when those considering the journey see others returning home. The Trump administration returned families and unaccompanied minors as well as individual adults using Title 42. Trump’s DHS did not simply send minors back into Mexico, as the Biden team asserts. Unaccompanied children were taken in, cared for, and reunited with their parents in their home country, working through the consulate.
Wolf says Biden’s executive order stopping ICE from deporting those who fail to qualify for asylum and not sending children home under Title 42 is making the problem worse, and even now, it would take time to slow it. Illegal migrants are already on the route and take actions much more seriously than rhetoric. Saying the border is closed means very little while behaving as if it is closed makes a significant difference. The current situation is not sustainable, humane, or decent. The Biden administration encourages mass family separation for an unknown period of time by allowing children to remain. Maybe it’s about time someone asks decent Joe why he would choose to do that.
WATCH the full interview with former acting DHS secretary, Chad Wolf: