Law enforcement apprehended nearly 2.4 million illegal migrants at the southern border in fiscal 2022, an all-time high that shattered 2021’s previous record of 1.7 million. Unfortunately, 2023 is already on track to break the record yet again.
The torrent of illegal aliens crossing the border will not stop — or even slow — unless Congress reforms the broken asylum system and implements credible deterrents that convince would-be migrants that they won’t be allowed to stay in the United States.
Lawmakers can start by rallying (or “getting with the program”) around a recently introduced bill from Congressman Chip Roy (R-TX). The Border Safety and Security Act would effectively codify Title 42, the pandemic-era public health measure that allowed law enforcement to turn away illegal aliens — including those that make dubious petitions for asylum — that they can’t safely detain due to a lack of detention space.
The Biden administration was set to rescind Title 42 in December, but the Supreme Court temporarily blocked that rollback on procedural grounds for up to six more months. However, the Court could eventually allow the administration to proceed. So lawmakers can’t afford to wait.
Unlike most House Republican initiatives, codifying Title 42 — and clarifying that the Department of Homeland Security must detain or repatriate illegal immigrants — could attract some bipartisan support in Congress’ upper chamber. In December, nine senators who caucus with the Democrats voted for an amendment to extend Title 42.
If Congress fails to codify such restrictions, and the Supreme Court ultimately allows the Biden administration to rescind them, the already catastrophic situation at the border will become even more disastrous. Law enforcement currently encounters about 8,000 migrants per day at the border. If Title 42 is lifted, crossings could more than double, to 18,000 per day, as illegal immigrants realize they’ll be less likely to be turned away.
Incredibly, a few House Republicans have objected to the bill, falsely claiming that it prevents people with legitimate asylum claims from seeking refuge in the United States.
It does nothing of the sort — it simply requires the Department of Homeland Security to humanely detain migrants who qualify for the asylum process, rather than “paroling” and releasing them into the interior United States by the tens of thousands and offering them work permits, as the Biden administration is currently doing. The bill protects legitimate asylum seekers, but would discourage people from making fraudulent petitions, since they’d no longer be granted their real goal — access to the interior.
Nor would the bill impact Cuban migrants, as some Florida Republicans have asserted. For over half a century, the Cuban Adjustment Act has granted those fleeing the communist dystopia a special pathway to legal residency.
Of course, Roy’s bill alone won’t solve the border crisis — it’s merely a starting point for other measures.
For instance, Congress could further reform the asylum system by making foreign nationals presumptively ineligible if they’ve traveled through a safe third country on their way to the border. Asylum is meant to protect people from imminent persecution. It’s not meant to be a golden ticket that allows hundreds of millions of people living in poor countries around the globe to circumvent our immigration laws and gain entry to the United States.
Similarly, Congress could restore the original purpose of asylum — providing shelter for individuals fleeing political or religious persecution — by codifying former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ ruling that the mere possibility of gang or domestic violence isn’t legitimate grounds for asylum.
The Biden administration vacated that ruling, and now, many migrants exploit our asylum system by falsely claiming they have a credible fear of such violence in their home countries, which is often enough to gain admission to the interior with a notice to appear for a far-off court date.
Over a dozen advocacy groups, along with former DHS officials Tom Homan, Chad Wolf, and Mark Morgan, have laid out a comprehensive list of congressional actions that would restore border security. These steps range from increasing funding for detention beds, to narrowing the Biden administration’s authority to parole migrants, to reimplementing the Remain in Mexico program that discourages fraudulent asylum claims.
These actions would prove effective — and overwhelmingly popular. An early January poll shows that 62% percent of voters feel the government isn’t doing enough to curb illegal immigration, compared to just 13% who think it’s doing too much.
America is suffering its worst surge of illegal immigration in history. And it won’t stop until Congress acts.
Julie McCarty founded NE Tarrant Tea Party in 2009, and it quickly became the most influential, active, and recognized tea party in Texas. In 2019, the group rebranded to True Texas Project, reflecting an expanded vision and reach with 20 locations across the state.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.