Millions of illegal immigrants have poured into the United States and have been promptly released under President Biden’s catch-and-release policy. The use of Title 42’s health emergency authority to immediately expel illegal immigrants without any hearing on their asylum claims is on its last legs. But President Biden could not be bothered. He refused to even visit the border when he was in Arizona for a photo-op recently, claiming that he had more important things to do.
Congressional Republicans need to show some backbone fast during the new session of Congress to push back hard against the Biden administration’s open border policies. The alternative is a continuation of the catastrophic invasion of illegal immigrants and deadly fentanyl smuggled into the United States by the Mexican cartels.
Unfortunately, the new House Republican majority was dealt a bad hand by 18 cowardly Senate Republicans at the end of the last session of Congress that concluded its business just before Christmas. These renegades, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, voted with the Democrats to approve a reckless $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill that funds the federal government through September 2023. By allowing this spending monstrosity to pass, they took away appropriations leverage that the incoming House Republican majority would have had in the new Congress to move real border security measures over the finish line.
The omnibus spending bill, which President Biden signed into law as the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023, designates only $60 million to hire 125 Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers. But it lavishes $410 million towards border security for Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, and Oman. And it appropriates enough money to hire or contract for 87,000 new IRS agents!
Yet 18 Republican senators voted in favor of these twisted priorities.
To make things worse, the omnibus spending legislation that the 18 Republican senators voted for prohibits the use of funds set aside for the Customs and Border Protection “to acquire, maintain or extend border security technology and capabilities, except for technology and capabilities to improve Border Patrol processing.” (Emphasis added)
In other words, there must be no federal spending on bolstering border security capabilities to keep as many future migrants as possible from illegally entering the country. The priority instead is to first admit the illegal immigrants and then spend the funds to improve the processing of their release into communities across the country.
Moreover, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 transfers hundreds of millions of dollars from U.S. Customs and Border Protection to funding a new Shelter and Services Program for migrants encountered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). We are not talking about basic detention facilities to hold illegal immigrants claiming asylum until their immigration hearings are heard. Indeed, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is to receive $340 million for “non-detention border management requirements.” (Emphasis added)
These anti-border security provisions alone should have moved all Senate Republicans to support a filibuster and block the omnibus spending bill from passing in the Senate. But 18 of them defected to the Democrats’ side last month. As ACT for America founder Brigitte Gabriel asked: “Who is worse? The Democrats who are actively destroying the country or the Republicans who are sitting on their hands watching it burn?”
With their control of the House for the next two years, the Republican majority better not disappoint if they want to have any chance of retaining their majority in 2024.
The Republican leadership has promised to conduct public investigative hearings, including at the border, which will examine how badly DHS, under the direction of Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, has mismanaged the border crisis.
The hearings need to lay out for the American people how the administration’s open border policies, implemented against the advice of career officials, have endangered national security. The Biden administration has effectively turned over control of the southern border to the Mexican cartel smugglers.
The hearings must also explore how directly involved President Biden himself was in key decisions that created the crisis at the border. Moreover, Mayorkas deserves to be impeached for lying under oath to Congress that the border is secure.
But oversight hearings and impeachment proceedings alone will not do a thing to reverse the open border policies while President Joe Biden remains in office. The House Republicans need to take concrete actions with the legislative tools they still have at their disposal to push back.
This means using the House majority’s power of the purse over any new or supplemental appropriation requests by the Biden administration. And they must be willing to block any increase or suspension of the debt ceiling that will be reached later this year unless Democrats agree to significant spending changes and to close the immigration law’s asylum loopholes.
The House Republican leadership has indicated that they intend to zero out the money allocated for hiring or contracting for 87,000 additional IRS agents. That is a good first step. It will be even better if the money saved is used to hire thousands more Border Patrol agents dedicated solely to stopping migrants from crossing the southern border illegally into the United States, not processing illegal entrants’ catch-and-release.
The Republican House majority should demand the removal of all restrictions on the use of funds set aside for the Customs and Border Protection “to acquire, maintain or extend border security technology and capabilities.” The Biden administration should be directed to resume construction of the border wall that it abandoned when President Biden took office, with sufficient funding to get the job done.
The House Republicans should also demand that the $340 million currently allocated for “non-detention border management requirements” be used instead to build more detention facilities to house as many asylum seekers permitted to stay in the country as possible. The Biden administration has ignored the Immigration and Nationality Act’s detention provisions in favor of more funding for catching, processing, and releasing masses of asylum seekers. That needs to be reversed.
Migrants from all over the world are willing to make the trek to the United States in search of improved economic prospects. But rather than play by the rules for obtaining legal immigration status, millions of these migrants enter the U.S. illegally, give themselves up to Border Patrol agents, and say the right words to claim the right to asylum. Smugglers in many cases have instructed the illegal immigrants how to pose as asylum seekers in order to gain a strong foothold in the country.
There are gaping loopholes in the current immigration law’s asylum provisions that make it easy for illegal immigrants to exploit. The Trump administration tried to plug some of these loopholes through such executive actions as its Migrant Protection Protocols program, known more commonly as “Remain in Mexico.” The Biden administration, however, announced termination of the program after winning in court the right to do so. The Biden administration has also used executive orders to reverse other Trump era executive policies meant to deter immigrants from crossing the southern border illegally into the country. And Title 42 authority to expel would-be asylum seekers immediately will not last much longer.
Thus, the only chance to stop the manipulation of the immigration law’s current asylum provisions is through congressional passage of amendments to the immigration law, signed by President Biden, to remove the major loopholes. Given the inevitable fierce opposition by the Democrats, there is only one realistic way that this could possibly happen during the next two years. The House Republican majority must roll out their nuclear option. They must threaten to block any suspension or increase of the debt ceiling later this year unless their demands for changes in spending and for closing the asylum loopholes are satisfied.
We will hear all sorts of doomsday predictions if the U.S. government is allowed to go into default because of no action on the debt ceiling before it is exceeded. But the answer is that continuing to allow in, and release, millions of asylum-seeker imposters poses the even greater threat of destroying America as we know it.
Here are just a few suggested legislative fixes to close at least some of the current asylum loopholes:
 Clarify with explicit language that domestic violence and gang crime do not constitute “persecution” and are not legal grounds for gaining asylum in the United States. There must be proof of government-sponsored persecution on the basis of race, religion, nationality, or political beliefs. Membership “in a particular social group” is too vague a reason for claiming a “credible fear” of persecution and should be removed.
 Define what entails sufficient evidence of a “credible fear” of government-sponsored persecution that allows the immigrant who is seeking asylum to pass through the initial Border Patrol agent screening. For countries of origin where there is no objective evidence from reliable outside sources of such persecution, require the asylum seeker to present verifiable proof of threats of persecution against him or her specifically. Make it clear that verifiable proof means more than just taking the asylum seeker’s own word for it or relying on letters from family members, friends, and neighbors back home.
 Expand the authority of Border Patrol agents who are properly trained in asylum requirements to make a conclusive determination as to whether an asylum-seeker meets the revised “credible fear” of persecution standard. Add language stipulating that such a Border Patrol agent’s determination is non-appealable, including the agent’s decision to order the immediate expulsion of an asylum-seeker who has failed to meet the revised standard.
 Add language that would require asylum-seekers to first apply for asylum either at the U.S. consulate in their country of origin or in the first safe country they enter before they can apply for asylum in the United States. Also, codify the “Remain in Mexico” program.
The right to asylum was never meant as a means to improve one’s livelihood or to escape local criminal violence. It is meant for the specific purpose of providing a safe harbor for people truly escaping government-sponsored persecution because of who they are or because of their beliefs. Millions of illegal immigrants, with the help of Mexican cartel smugglers, have been outrageously abusing the current asylum system. And the Biden administration is making it easier for them to do so. Many more illegal immigrants will follow the same path unless drastic action is taken fast.
It is up to the House Republican majority to use all the legislative means at their disposal to ensure adequate funding for real border security and to close at minimum the most egregious asylum loopholes.