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Jessica Vaughan is director of Policy Studies at the Center for Immigration Studies. She wrote this for InsideSources.com.
After the alarming surge of 15,000 illegal border crossers fording the Rio Grande into Del Rio, Texas, in just a few days, the Biden administration has finally cried “uncle” and begun to enforce our border laws. It is an important admission that, on top of the Afghanistan fiasco, Biden’s border approach is undermining confidence in his leadership and potentially endangering the Democrats’ larger agenda.
And the enforcement is working to slow the flow.
First, the Texas State Police, later joined by Border Patrol agents on horseback, showed up to block off the main entry points from the river. Then, the feds began bussing the migrants to other sites for faster processing and, even more noteworthy, began deportation flights to Haiti and Central America.
According to my colleague Todd Bensman, who has been reporting from the bus station in the Mexican city of Acuna, across from Del Rio, large numbers of Haitians are giving up and turning around. Having lived and worked in South America for the last several years, the last thing they want is to be sent back to Haiti.
Clearly, barriers reinforced by consequences for illegal entry work much better than a show of addressing the “root causes” of migration through foreign aid.
It remains to be seen how long the migrants will be deterred. Reportedly, it is mainly single adults who are being sent home, and those who brought children along still are being allowed to enter, as has been the Biden policy all along. This has brought record numbers of illegal crossers; more than 200,000 were apprehended in both July and August, on pace for a total of about 1.5 million by the end of the fiscal year. About half of the migrants have been allowed to enter pending a court date long in the future, and another half-million so-called gotaways are estimated to have successfully evaded arrest.
Judging by the settlement patterns of arriving minors as reported by the Department of Health and Human Services, so far they have clustered in a handful of locations with more than a fourth landing in just 11 counties: Harris, Dallas and Travis Counties in Texas; Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties in Florida; Los Angeles County; Queens and Long Island, New York; Davidson County in Tennessee; Prince Georges County in Maryland; and Mecklenburg County in North Carolina. Most of the newly arrived Haitians likely will head for Florida, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts.
Because the sudden restart of deportation flights is likely a temporary stopgap, state and local officials need to have a plan to deal with the influx. Texas and a few other states have taken the Biden administration to court to compel them to enforce federal laws. That is useful and necessary but has not yet made a difference in the policies, or in relieving the huge fiscal and security burden imposed on the states.
So far this year, an estimated 40,000 children who crossed the border illegally have settled in Texas alone. They will be enrolling in school, to the tune of about $10,000 per student, for a total cost to taxpayers of $400 million. Add to that the cost of emergency health care and other assistance.
State officials need not watch helplessly as the bills mount. They can use state authorities to attack the problem.
Dust off the state smuggling and trafficking laws, monitor the transportation routes, follow the illegal money trails, investigate and prosecute the identity theft necessary for employment, and go after those who hire illegal workers. Equally important, scrutinize the activities of NGOs that participate in relocating illegal aliens and insist that they stay within the bounds of their business license and state law. South Carolina has prohibited child welfare agencies from contracting with the feds to resettle illegal unaccompanied minors. Oklahoma collects about $12 million each year with a tax on illegal residents who wire money overseas.
Eventually, Congress will have to act because, as President Joe Biden has discovered, porous borders are fiscally and politically unsustainable. Besides showing once again that barriers and deportations work to control illegal immigration, the Del Rio episode may have quelled the appetite of some Democrats to ram through a mass amnesty and expansion of legal immigration. What we really need, besides more enforcement, is a long period of more moderate immigration so we can more easily absorb the recent wave.