by Simon Hankinson
There is a fine line between stretched truth and outright lies. In a series of recent congressional hearings, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas seems to have found that line and pitched his tent on it.
Such hearings tend to go like this: Senators or representatives in the same party as the testifying executive branch official ask tough questions such as: “Sir, thank you for all your hard work. Just how awesome are you, and how excellent is your agency?”
Then it’s the turn of the opposing party, who may ask real questions seeking to hold the official to account.
Mayorkas’ two-fer testimony Wednesday was right in line with expectations. But if you listened to it all, the naked truth came out.
First, Mayorkas avoids definitions. When asked by Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., what an “assault weapon” is, on the reasonable premise that if you’re going to ban something, you first need to define it, Mayorkas dithered, hedged, and dodged
In the House hearing, Mayorkas tried again to defend his redefinition of the term “border security.”
Rep. Michael Cloud, R-Texas, contrasted the testimony of Border Patrol Chief Raoul Ortiz with that of Mayorkas. With “a total of 6 million encounters along the southwest border,” Cloud asked, “do you still maintain today that our border is secure?”
I don’t have room to print Mayorkas’ entire answer here. It didn’t ever approach the “yes or no” that Cloud asked for.
Instead, President Joe Biden’s homeland security secretary stood by his earlier attempts to redefine a secure border as “maximizing the resources we have to deliver the most effective results.”
Mayorkas’ entire performance reminded me of the “five rules of dodgeball” from the classic movie comedy “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.”
More important than his definition-dodging, Mayorkas revealed in the two hearings the utter empty shell that is Biden’s stated plan for border security, while unwittingly laying out the real six-pillar plan.
Sen. Katie Britt, R-Ala., asked Mayorkas what will happen when the Biden administration gets its wish and is allowed to stop using Title 42, the public health law, to expel migrants before they can join the endless queue of supposed asylum-seekers inside our country.
Britt cited projections by the Department of Homeland Security that the daily numbers of illegal aliens attempting to enter the country, most often simply by surrendering to the Border Patrol between ports of entry, would climb to 12,000 or more after May 11 when U.S. agents stop applying Title 42.
“Is there a plan in place currently?” Britt asked.
Mayorkas claimed that his agency’s post-Title 42 plan was his old September 2021 “Six Pillars” plan, which, as I have previously commented, is delusional. The truth is, there is no real plan other than to double down on process, parole, and punt.
Britt then asked: “What are you doing to deal with the 600,000 … migrants who have come over and have been paroled into the United States?”
Mayorkas, who had testified a day earlier before the Senate Judiciary Committee, answered that “with respect to individuals who have been paroled into the United States … they are, they should be in immigration proceedings, and if their claims succeed, then they are provided relief [asylum] under our laws. If their claims fail, uh, then they will be issued an order of removal and we will seek to remove them from the United States.”
That, folks, is the Biden administration’s big lie on immigration. Mayorkas and other officials are inviting, allowing, and assisting millions of aliens to cross into the United States on the pretext that they are genuine asylum-seekers.
In truth, even Biden’s DHS admits in a proposed rule that these migrants are unlikely to get asylum, and that they will enjoy “a lengthy stay in the United States, regardless of the merit of an individual’s case” because of backlogs in immigration processing, a situation that “risks driving even more migration.”
Ignore Mayorkas’ stated six pillars. Here is the real plan.
Pillar 1: The Biden administration blames the massive incursion of foreign illegal immigrants toward the United States on vague world events, as if this were some unique moment in history instead of a predictable outcome when consequences for illegal entry are removed.
Pillar 3: Officials don’t detain illegals, but instead pay for their transportation anywhere in the U.S. and allow them to work and claim education and public benefits for two years, with almost certain renewal.
Pillar 4: Officials give the migrants a piece of paper (a “Notice to Appear” in court or “Report to ICE”) that, assuming they cooperate, may put them into removal proceedings but not until years in the future.
Pillar 5: They punt them into a backlog for immigration courts that is now over 2.1 million cases, a 62% increase since Biden took office. The courts are closing only half as many cases as are opened every month, and that number was 92,000 in January alone.
Pillar 6: Finally, thanks to a deliberately underfunded and overwhelmed asylum process, the millions of migrants placed into the pipeline are going nowhere else anytime soon, if ever. Mayorkas already has told Immigration and Customs Enforcement to avoid going after routine law-breaking illegal aliens, and DHS is reducing enforcement budgets and targets over the next two years. As a result, deportations by ICE are pathetically low.
What Mayorkas’ real six-pillar plan accomplishes is a de facto amnesty for millions of illegal aliens, and counting. This plan builds up a political pressure cooker through sheer numbers in an attempt to strong-arm Congress into another disastrous and unfair legislative amnesty for illegal immigrants.
Just like with other pressing national issues, the Biden administration’s answer to tough problems is not to seek compromise in Congress to pass laws as the Constitution intended. It is to stretch the meaning of the law and attempt regulatory overreach to achieve its ideological goals at all costs, hoping that accountability is a long way away.
The latest Mayorkas hearings are shining a necessary light on the farce that is Biden’s immigration policy. Congress now needs to see its mandate through and enforce accountability by impeaching Mayorkas and forcing the Department of Homeland Security to do its job: Enforce all immigration laws on the books, not just the ones the political bosses approve of.
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Simon Hankinson, a former foreign service officer with the State Department, is a senior research fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Border Security and Immigration Center.
Photo “Alejandro Mayorkas” by House Appropriations Committee.