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PIEDRAS NEGRAS, Mexico — “Mission Accomplished” is how President Biden, his top deputies and media lackeys are characterizing the “tough” new border management plan that on May 12 replaced the pandemic-control Title-42 rapid expulsion measure.
Administration officials boasted — and legacy media trilled — that, thanks to tough-as-nails sanctions they’d apply to all illegal crossers, a massive, expected border surge never materialized and crossings plunged.
But like President George W. Bush’s infamous May 2003 “Mission Accomplished” speech about the Iraq invasion, Biden’s border success claim is proving premature.
Parents in Mexico have discovered that administration threats of “expedited removals” for illegal crossings, five-year bans on legal reentry and prosecution do not apply to them.
The runway into America is clear and open, just like always, to any parent with a kid.
Immigrant families with children have now figured out that, if they cross illegally and turn themselves in under the supposedly harsh new strategy, Biden’s Border Patrol will very quickly admit all of them right into the American heartland just like when the government exempted them from Title 42.
A mammoth new surge of family units seems assured because that good word is out and spreading lightning fast on cellphone social media networks.
That this category of immigrants has seen the light is significant because families make up a very large percentage of the mass migration crisis Biden touched off when he first exempted them from Title 42 expulsions on inauguration day in 2021.
‘Got in because of kids’
Since that day, according to an analysis of government apprehension data and interviews with knowledgeable government sources, the Biden administration has allowed at least 1.3 million immigrants in family groups to stay after illegally crossing since his first day in office.
That’s more than half of the roughly 2,020,522 Southwest Border immigrants the administration has set free through April, though the real total is likely tens of thousands more, Center for Immigration Studies analyst Andrew R. Arthur recently estimated.
Now, after a pause to assess the new get-tough Biden policy enacted May 12, the families are once again pouring illegally in gathering streams from Piedras Negras and Acuna, Mexico, across into the Border Patrol’s Del Rio Sector in Texas but also, reportedly, into California and Arizona to get in on the catch-and-release continuation.
“We got in because of the kids,” explained one of four single mothers from Honduras just released with their 10 young children into Del Rio where they waited in the shade of some McDonald’s parking lot trees for a bus out of town.
“We’re looking forward to getting to our destinations, finding work, getting our kids into school and adjusting to life here in the US,” said the mother, cradling a napping 1-year-old boy. “We’re very happy.”
During a recent visit to the Del Rio Sector, the Center for Immigration Studies witnessed hundreds of family units crossing from Piedras Negras into Eagle Pass, and watched a nongovernmental organization that receives processed immigrants from Border Patrol in just a couple of hours on one afternoon fill three chartered buses with released families off into the heartland.
The organization’s director acknowledged a rising tide of families was underway in the sector that had not yet overwhelmed area facilities but probably would soon.
“I can confirm that I am definitely seeing more families as opposed to singles,” said the director, who preferred not to be identified.
This not-unpredicted but confirmed news stands in sharp contrast to how the administration publicly sold its six-pillar Title 42 replacement plan, one messaged as so Trumpian-tough that left-wing civil rights organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union even sued to stop it. They needn’t have bothered.
The plan’s basic idea was to steer immigrants from politically problematic illegal border crossings into queues south of the border where they could apply for humanitarian entry permits through a cellphone app called CBP One.
With an approved appointment in hand, immigrants are escorted across a port of entry “legally” to the American side where CBP processors hand out permit papers and then release them into the country with two-year work authorizations to maybe apply for asylum sometime later.
To drive the masses into that line south of the border, the administration threatened to apply the existing Title 8 law’s “consequences for unlawful entry, including [expedited] removal, detention and prosecution.” All have a right to evade deportation by claiming asylum but the administration put together a streamlined process to decline those claims within a day. Anyone who had not first applied and been declined in a designated safe third country through which they traveled, like Mexico, is to be declined.
But according to five freshly released parents at the Del Rio McDonald’s, all already had asylum or humanitarian protection in Mexico but were never asked about it. A Salvadoran father of three, showing his Mexican residency card, said all three kids were born in Mexico and were Mexican citizens.
Nor did the agents even ask if they wanted to apply for asylum. The “A” word at the heart of the Biden strategy never even came up.
“We just turned ourselves in. Border Patrol didn’t ask us anything,” one mother of three said. “They just did all the paperwork. We didn’t even tell them we were seeking asylum or anything.”
The outcome seemed preordained. After about 48 hours in a Border Patrol facility, agents handed everyone papers that set them free on their own recognizance with “notices to appear” at an ICE office in their destination cities of choice, as hundreds of thousands had entered before them. One was going to Houston area, another to Memphis. The dates were set for early July.
One woman received a cellphone that helps the government track her whereabouts in the meantime.
All had grown weary of waiting in Mexico for the CBP One cellphone permits and abandoned it when they learned other families were getting released after crossing illegally, demonstrating a powerful reward for abandoning the process.
Border Patrol officials told all that they would eventually get work authorizations after they showed up for appointments.
“It’s the same as if we were to have finished going through CBP-One,” one mother said. “The only difference is that we have to pay for our own transportation this way.”
Catch and release
The trendline for such family entries only points upward, given the absence of any consequence for illegally crossing and an outcome where catch-and-release is guaranteed.
All of these parents already called and emailed everyone they knew back down the trail.
One woman said she told a cousin and an aunt in Mexico that she’d gotten released into America with her children and they could, too.
“Without kids, you run the risk of getting deported,” she said. “What we’re telling the relatives is if they have kids they have a good chance.”
This kind of live-time transfer of information all but ensures a coming storm.
The voodoo was working its wonders in Piedras Negras across from Eagle Pass late last week. Parents entering the water for their own crossings told CIS they were doing it because they had just received word from those released in Texas that everyone with a child was getting released.
A day after those interviews, a single mom with a daughter and son, hiked down to the Rio Grande in Piedras Negras and answered a few questions while putting clothes in plastic bags for the swim over. The mom had been waiting a month in the CBP One line but heard it wasn’t necessary from other moms who’d just gone over.
She answered that she was headed to Ohio to join family. Could she or her two children swim? None wore life vests. The current was pretty strong.
No, the mom answered. A coyote helper picked up the girl and waded into the water. The boy and his mom grabbed hands and headed into the current.