Mayorkas: "Irregular" immigrants are "promptly removed." WaPo: Three prompt Pinocchios

Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP

Does this conclusion rest on the definition of the word “promptly”? Glenn Kessler starts off by flagging that word from Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, but the word “removed” might be even more problematic.

Let’s begin with Mayorkas’ claim on Fox News Sunday that “irregular” immigrants that are ineligible for legal entry or asylum are “promptly removed.” Kessler provides the quote:

“You know what happens to these individuals? They are either expelled under the Title 42 of the CDC, or they are placed into immigration enforcement proceedings. They make their claims under the law. If those claims don’t prevail, they are promptly removed from the United States.”

First off, in case you’ve missed the latest weekly edition of the Progressive Style Guide of Approved Nomenclature, “irregular migration” is the term adopted in this administration. It replaces “illegal immigration,” which they never used anyway, and also “undocumented immigrants,” which had been in favor but apparently now sounds too judge-y. “Irregular” does have the slight virtue of covering both illegal border crossings as well as legal-to-a-point asylum applications, although “undocumented” works just as well for that point.

Anyway, the question is whether Mayorkas’ claims are accurate. And the answer is … not in the slightest, in any sense of either word. Kessler does a deep dive on the topic through government data and lawsuit filings to find the numbers of “irregular” entries and subsequent deportations. That system appeared to be working fairly well before January 2021, although the US had a much better track record on returning “irregulars” from Mexico than Central America.

Since then, the number of entries has skyrocketed — and removals are plummeting, “prompt” or otherwise:

Eventually people under ATD are supposed to be issued a “notice to appear” (NTA) that would commence the formal immigration process. In effect, they are granted “parole” — a term that means something different under immigration law than in the criminal justice system — that allows them to stay in the county while they wait to learn if they can remain indefinitely. “In general, a noncitizen who is paroled into the United States is not placed into removal proceedings until the parole is terminated,” the DHS letter to Johnson said.

Through the end of March, since Biden took office DHS has released 836,225 people encountered at the border, according to the court filings. Another 157,000 unaccompanied children from other than Mexico or Canada have been placed with a sponsor such as a relative, according to Arthur’s calculations.

The numbers keep rising. In March, for instance, court filings show that more than 220,000 people were encountered and almost half were expelled under Title 42. Of the remaining, more than 80,000 were released in the United States. Of those released, about 66,000 “applicants for admission” were released by CBP. An NTA was given to 31,453 of those people, while the rest were paroled, with an expectation that they would receive an NTA in the future. Separately, another 14,000 people were released by ICE, most under an order of recognizance.

Kessler compares the numbers, and those show that Mayorkas is lying about policy and effect:

During the 2021 fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, ICE recorded 59,011 deportations, down from 185,884 in 2020. (About 29,000 deportations were made in the 7½ months after Biden instituted new policies.) ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) made about 74,082 administrative arrests during the 2021 fiscal year, down from 104,000 during fiscal 2020 and an average of 148,000 annually from 2017 through 2019.

Read the whole analysis, which can serve also as a handy bookmark when more numbers become available on DHS performance and policy. As for Mayorkas and his claim, Kessler drops three Pinocchios onto the embattled secretary for his dishonesty in response to a direct question:

Mayorkas, in his remarks, gave the impression of a smooth-running machine: Noncitizens who illegally entered the United States are given their day in court and, if they lose, they promptly are deported. But the reality is much different. Certain nationalities, such as Mexicans, appear on a faster track to deportation. But others are not.

Indeed, more than 1 million people who entered the country without proper documents have been given deportation orders — and still have not left. Others have disappeared — a problem that may have gotten worse as tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants are released in the country each month.

Mayorkas spent all day Sunday trying to gaslight Americans into thinking that the border crisis is a myth and that the Biden administration’s policies are working. He also claimed that the Biden administration had a plan to handle the surge that a rescission of Title 42 controls would create. Why should we believe a single word that Mayorkas says at this point?

I take that back. We can believe Mayorkas in his refusal to state that the Biden administration wants to reduce illegal immigration, as seen below. I mean, even if you want to promote asylum applications, shouldn’t DHS oppose illegal entries into the US? Shouldn’t any White House feel comfortable in making that an explicit policy position?