By Tom Fitton, opinion contributor — 02/18/21 / thehill.com
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America is facing a worsening crisis of uncontrolled illegal immigration. The Biden administration’s approach weakens the border and nationalizes some of the most radical “sanctuary” practices. This is dangerous and it undermines the rule of law.
Biden adopted the extremist tack during his first week in office, issuing an executive order authorizing “catch and release” programs at the border, and freezing deportations. It also emerged that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is saying that apprehended aliens are not being tested for COVID-19, potentially introducing new disease vectors into the American population at large. As such, releasing them into the country places the public health at risk, not only from COVID-19 but also, as Judicial Watch has reported, from tuberculosis, pneumonia and other health risks.
The number of attempted border crossings has predictably been increasing since the election. CBP Deputy Chief Raul Ortiz said that, in the first ten days of February, CBP “has averaged more than 3,000 daily apprehensions” with a further daily “more than 1,000 border-crossing ‘got-aways,’ migrants whom agents were able to detect but not detain.”
The Biden administration announced its 100-day freeze on deportations while it evaluates further changes to Trump administration immigration policies. A Jan. 20 memo from Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary David Pekoske, “Review of and Interim Revision to Civil Immigration Enforcement and Removal Policies and Procedures,” laid out the details on the deportation freeze and new enforcement priorities. The only “non-citizens” subject to removal (or even questioning) under the terms of the memo are those deemed to be national security threats, post-Nov. 1 border crossers, and those “currently incarcerated for an aggravated felony conviction and who are determined to be a threat to public safety.” This means that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will not deport those with other criminal records, including sex offenses, domestic violence, drug violations, property crimes and any misdemeanors.
But Texas has put the brakes on the new policy, at least temporarily. State Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the Biden administration over the freeze, claiming that halting deportations was unconstitutional. Last Monday, Judge Drew Tipton of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas extended a nationwide temporary restraining order against the deportation freeze, ruling that allowing the Biden administration to go ahead with its plans could potentially cause, as the state argues, “irreparable harms,” such as impacts to Texas’s law enforcement, housing, education, employment, commerce and health care needs and budgets.
Paxton took to Twitter to declare an all-caps “VICTORY” against “a seditious left-wing insurrection.” But the Biden team apparently is defying the court — for example, halting ICE deportation flights to Haiti and countries in Africa in response to frantic lobbying by immigration activists and members of Congress. If President Trump had similarly obstructed a court order, Democrats undoubtedly would have rushed to file more articles of impeachment.
The dangers of Biden’s policy approach are obvious. We already have the grim experience of releasing criminal illegals in sanctuary cities. Last year, 92-year-old Queens resident Maria Fuertes was raped and murdered, allegedly by Reeaz Khan, a 21-year-old illegal from Guyana. Months earlier, Khan was arrested in New York City for assault, and ICE authorities requested that he be turned over for possible deportation. Instead, Khan was released under New York sanctuary policies.
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We cannot count on the Biden administration to give us the full story about the potentially negative impacts of its misguided policies. White House press secretary Jen Psaki seemed befuddled when asked about the lack of COVID-19 testing for those caught and released under Biden’s new executive order. But recall that, in 2014, it was revealed that the Obama-Biden administration had lied when it claimed that the 2,200 detained illegals it released into the country for budget reasons only had minor criminal records. In fact, internal documents were uncovered that showed some of those who were released were facing charges including “kidnapping, sexual assault, drug trafficking and homicide.” Under the new Biden policy, at least we know that such felons are already being given the green light to stay in the country.
These changes to immigration policies serve as critical examples of the ideologically driven, extreme policy priorities of our supposedly moderate president. Biden is effectively seeking open-borders amnesty by hook or by crook, with zero regard for public health and safety – or rule of law.