Biden ends emergency declaration for border wall construction, begins taking in asylum-seekers

The latest efforts by President Biden to undo the immigration policies of the Trump administration played out on Thursday when he put a halt to the emergency declaration in effect at the U.S.-Mexico border. This means that government funding for the construction of the border wall has stopped. The troops deployed on the border, however, will remain in place.

The decision to keep the troops on the border is an acknowledgment of a border security problem. Biden is determined to undo Trump’s work at the southern border whether it is building a wall or the Remain in Mexico policy for asylum seekers. If Joe Biden was an honest broker when it comes to protecting America’s borders, he would not abruptly end the construction of the wall in order to appease the open border crowd. Biden ended the construction of the wall on his first day in office, as he promised to do, by executive action. He issued a letter to make the order official, informing Speaker Pelosi and Vice President Harris of his action.

In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris, in her capacity as president of the Senate, Biden called the order by his predecessor “unwarranted.” Biden also announced that government funds would no longer be diverted toward construction of a border wall, stating that he was “directing a careful review of all resources appropriated or redirected to that end.”

But for the troops on the ground, not much will change. Roughly 3,600 military personnel will continue providing support to the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection in the form of surveillance, maintenance, logistics and transportation until September, Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell said.

In response to the pandemic in March of last year, an additional 600 personnel were deployed to the border to operate 60 additional surveillance sites, Mitchell said. Those troops will leave by March 31.

Mitchell stressed that the troops are not helping with wall construction. That effort is overseen by the Army Corps of Engineers, which directed the contractors working on the border not to install any additional physical barriers. The only work that will occur is the construction activity necessary to close down each site, he said.

The troops will continue to provide technical support for aviation, maintenance, detection and monitoring, logistics, transportation, and mobile surveillance camera operations. Additionally, 60 mobile surveillance sites to detect illegal migration between ports of entry will remain in operation.

A fourth-generation rancher in New Mexico tells his story – stopping the border wall project that begins near El Paso, Texas, came to an abrupt end last week near Hermanas, New Mexico, less than a mile short of where it was slated to connect to another wall. He now faces the reality that his property is the first spot in the 90-mile stretch where illegal aliens can enter the United States. He is concerned for the safety of his family. Completing just one more mile would have provided the rancher and his family with personal security that will now not be possible. An increase in foot traffic from the border has already begun.

For decades, Johnson’s parents, grandparents, and great grandparents have dealt with the realities of living with nothing more than a barbed wire fence dividing both countries. He is gravely concerned now, having already started to see an uptick in people crossing along his 8.5 miles of border-front property over the past several months.

“Traffic has been picking up,” Johnson told the Washington Examiner during a tour of the land. “Even as the wall construction was happening, it’s been funneling traffic as they keep closing the wall up.”

Of all the executive actions taken by Biden so far on the issue of illegal immigration, increasing the number of refugees allowed into the country is the most unpopular.

Nonetheless, Biden persists. As he went about dismantling Trump’s successful immigration policies on Day One, Biden increased the number of asylum-seekers allowed from the Trump administration’s number of 15,000 per year to 125,000. Today it was announced that the Biden administration is allowing some asylum seekers who are part of the Remain in Mexico program to complete their immigration proceedings with family members or other sponsors.

Only migrants with pending active cases under the so-called “Remain-in-Mexico” program will be eligible to be reprocessed by U.S. officials, who are slated to start phase 1 of this initiative next Friday at three ports along the southern border. All eligible asylum-seekers will need to test negative for the coronavirus while in Mexico before being allowed to enter the U.S., Biden administration officials said.

The U.S. government will work with nonprofits and international groups to prioritize the processing of eligible migrants who have been stranded in Mexico the longest, as well as those determined to be the most vulnerable, officials said. Those deemed eligible by non-profit groups will be able to sign up for an appointment to enter the U.S. and have access to transportation to the selected ports of entry.

Once in the U.S., these asylum-seekers will not be sent to immigration detention centers, but will instead be allowed to wait for their court hearings in U.S. communities. They will be enrolled in the “alternatives to detention” program, which could require the placement of ankle monitors.

Two of the designated ports of entry are each expected to have the capacity to process roughly 300 migrants per day once they become “fully operational,” one official said. Plans are underway to expand the processing of asylum-seekers to other locations beyond the initial three ports, but officials did not provide a specific timeframe.

The Biden administration estimates there are 25,000 asylum-seekers in Mexico with pending U.S. cases. Most migrants seeking asylum do not qualify.

According to government data compiled by researchers at Syracuse University, only 641 migrants enrolled in the Remain-in-Mexico program were granted asylum or other forms of U.S. refuge. More than 30,000 enrollees lost their cases, though the vast majority were ordered deported without appearing in court.

Welcome back to the days of catch and release. There are mixed messages from the Biden administration – Biden wants to end deportations, grant amnesty to over 11 million illegal aliens, and release those detained in facilities at the border. He also wants to begin allowing migrants to cross the border and just slap an ankle monitor on them with orders to return for their hearing. What a mess.