Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, recently spoke at the Freedom Center’s annual Restoration Weekend, held November 10-13, 2022 at the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix, AZ.
He addressed the catastrophic illegal invasion of America’s Southern border under the Biden administration, the erosion of America’s national sovereignty, and the long term impact.
Don’t miss this important speech.
Mark Krikorian: Thank you. Four hundred years ago, William Shakespeare, in his play Richard II, alluded to the importance of borders. He wrote of England. I’ll just read an excerpt from it. “This fortress built by Nature for herself against infection and the hand of war, this happy breed of men, this little world, this precious stone set in a silver sea which serves it in the office of a wall or as a moat defensive to a house against the envy of less happier lands.”
This was about England, but some of this applies to us as well. We have a silver seas to our east and west that protect us. We have a neighbor to the north which is not among these less happier lands, and the border there is not a serious issue. That is our border with Canada in northern Vermont, and even the flowerpots weren’t there before 9/11.
But south of us, it’s different. Mexico, obviously, has sent lots of immigrants, legal and illegal, over the years. There’s fewer people coming from Mexico; by world standards, it’s not — it does pretty well. But Mexico serves as a kind of drawbridge across the moat, if you will, for the billions from less happier lands who do want to come here, as well as contraband of all sorts, whether it’s suitcase nukes or opioid poisons.
We’ve struggled for years to make the southern border effective as a moat, defensive, as Shakespeare said, and the long-lasting failure to do that is one of the things that drove Donald Trump to victory. Unfortunately, what we have today is the first administration, and I’m including all prior Democratic administrations as well — the first administration ever that isn’t even trying to enforce the border.
And I’ve been traveling the border this whole past week. That’s why I’m in hiking boots, because I’ve been going from one crappy Indian-run motel to another over the past week looking at parts of the border, and I have literally just a few pictures. I don’t want to give Michael a heart attack. I just have half a dozen pictures of — either from this week or from other places, because we do a border tour every year in the spring, usually, and actually, if people are interested, come up to me afterward. We do a tour. We have about a dozen people and we go intensively in a part of a border and see a lot of what’s going on.
So just a couple pictures to show you what’s going on, and then I want to talk a little bit about it. This is Yuma, Arizona. I don’t know how many of you followed this, but there was a gap. You see where those shipping containers are? None of that was there until a few weeks ago. The gap in the fence is there because on January 20 of 2021, the new president told the guys building the wall, put down your tools and step away, because he wasn’t going to have one more inch of wall built because the evil bad orange man liked the wall. So that was — that’s the Yuma gap, they called it, and there’s actually a couple places right near it where there’s also gaps.
And finally, Governor Ducey in Arizona, after having been promised by the administration, okay, well, maybe we’ll fill some of the gaps — they just never did, so he just had state authorities schlep some shipping containers and stack them on top of each other and plug up the hole. It’s kind of a half-assed measure, but I mean, what can the state do? In fact, the administration has threatened to sue Arizona for trespassing on federal land. It’s like, how dare you stop illegal immigrants from coming through our gap?
Unfortunately, a few miles south of here — these are all pictures I took this week — is this. The fence ends. The reason it ends is because there’s an Indian reservation there, the Cocopah Indian Reservation, and they don’t want a fence. So what you see there that looks kind of like a split-rail fence, that’s called a vehicle barrier. They’re like I-beams that are stuck together, and it will, in fact, stop a car from driving over, but your grandma can get around it.
And in fact, where they meet — I’ll get to the opioids too in a minute — where they meet, it doesn’t even really connect, so this is where the illegal border-crossers just walk through there and turn themselves in to the border patrol. Here is a group of them from earlier this week: 500 people that night had turned themselves in literally at the place that previous picture was. That — what you saw in the picture was sort of behind this. They’re being bussed by the border patrol — they took their pictures, they may be detained for a day or so, and then, under Biden’s policies, they’re going to be let go. And here they are loading their luggage onto the bus, which you’ve all — we’ve all paid for.
This is another part of the fence. This is on the Mexican side in Tijuana, right near where it reaches the ocean. It’s sort of the end of the fence, the far western end. As you can see, they decorate the fence. There’s an upside down American flag you can see. And it was there — a few hours before this I was on the U.S. side, a group of Vietnamese and Jamaicans got a ladder, climbed over the fence, took the ladder and put it on the other side and climbed down, but they had nowhere to go because there’s two layers of fence there. The smugglers knew that. They went over so that now they were on U.S. soil, and the border patrol came and gathered them up, took their pictures, what have you, delivered their luggage, and they’re going to be let go.
This is — where is this? New Mexico. See, that looks like a really impressive fence. And it is. That’s a serious barrier. Again, people can get over it, but it takes work. But then if you drive a little further down toward your right, you see the end of the fence. It’s the same thing. This is not an Indian reservation issue; this is they were building the fence from two sides to meet on a hill and guess where — how far along it was on January 20 of 2021?
And then if you go down a little more to your right, another maybe half a mile, you have this. This is a gate. There’s supposed to be gate in the fence. It’s required by treaty that everywhere where there’s one of these markers that delineates the border, that you be able to get to it from both sides. It’s a long story, but there’s a lot of these gates. So they were building the doorway, and then guess what happened on January 20 of 2021 — they had to stop work. So there’s literally a hole in the fence. This is kind of like the opposite of that — how many of you remember Blazing Saddles, where they go to the toll booth and, well, we need a whole lot of dimes to get through this tollbooth. Well, this is sort of the opposite thing. This is a fence everywhere, and there’s a hole in the middle of it.
This — you see those things? Those are wall units stacked up but not used because President Biden said no more construction. We’ve paid — you have paid for all of those, and that’s a tiny portion of them in one place west of El Paso. Thousands of them. And they’re the same thing you see in Arizona, in New Mexico. Thousands of these, piled up, just sitting out there, because the president won’t finish it. Here’s another sort of arty version of the same picture. And that was it. So let me just leave it at that.
So what’s going on at the border? Last year, last fiscal year, which ended September 30, so it’s this year, was the record for illegal immigrant encounters. That’s what they’re called now. Not arrests, not apprehensions. Under this administration, they changed it and they call them encounters, as though you’re running into somebody in the street; 2.2 million. It was a record in American history. It broke the previous record, which was the previous year, again under Biden.
Not all of these people are released. Some people sort of — you often hear numbers that are bigger than they really are because some of these people are bounced back under a public health measure called Title 42. I’m not going to go into it, but it’s the only thing that Trump had at the border that the Biden people didn’t rescind. And it’s not because they have any change of heart. It’s because there are some people in the administration — there are sort of two factions. Both of them want — both of them oppose borders. One of them, though, wants to boil the frog slower than the other faction, and so the boil-the-frog-slower faction has said, let’s keep this thing in place, Title 42, that allows the border patrol to just bounce some people back across the border. But they’re using it for fewer and fewer people. The administration’s trying to end it, in which case everybody who comes across the border would just be let go.
Even with that, since this administration has taken over, they have let go close to 1.5 million illegal border crossers that were taken into custody and then let go. Supposedly they have hearings someday. They might show up. They might not. Some of them do. But if, in the end, they lose, say, their asylum claim, they just stay anyway. Nobody’s looking for them. So the whole thing is a charade.
Back in the Soviet Union — I was a student there for a couple of years in the ’80s, and there was a joke that people said, we pretend to work and they pretend to pay us. Well, we pretend to have an immigration law and this administration kind of pretends to enforce it. And that’s not counting what are called got-aways, which is sort of self-explanatory, but got-aways is not just some guess about how many other people came over. These are people they have pictures of, or they have footprint evidence, or whatever. In other words, people they know got across but they didn’t grab them. At this point, there’s probably another million of those who have come across under Biden’s administration. And then, those are the, what you might call — Rumsfeld would have called the known unknowns, and then there’s the unknown unknowns, or the illegals who got across that they didn’t get a picture of or they didn’t see their footprints or what have you.
So what a lot of people ask is, why is this happening? Tucker and other people say, well, they’re importing voters. Or this is part of a plan to transform America. I think there’s something to that, but that’s not — those are ancillary things. Those are secondary, kind of long-term concerns. The reason this administration, unlike any administration in history, doesn’t want to enforce borders is because they believe that controlling borders is immoral in itself, that immigration enforcement is morally wrong. The American people have no right to keep anyone out. It’s Jim Crow — although I guess in Spanish, you’d be Jaimito Cuervo, but it’s the same idea, just to help the president along, so he doesn’t call it something stupid like Jim Eagle or whatever, but that’s what they believe.
And in fact, they do — the people running immigration in this administration do subscribe to a kind of American exceptionalism. It’s just the — not the American exceptionalism we think of. They see America as exceptionally bad, and therefore, we are exceptionally not allowed to say no to anyone trying to come across the border.
And they do take steps here and there to make it seem like they’re enforcing the border. For instance, Venezuelans, once they announced that Venezuelans, most of whom aren’t really coming from Venezuela, but they’re coming from Colombia or Peru, that they were just being let go. So they changed policy and said, no, no, we’re going to subject them to these Title 42 expulsions where they just bounced right back, no hearings, no nothing. The reason they did is not because Venezuelans are voting Republican. None of these people are going to be voting for 10, 15 years, if ever. They’re doing it because once they made the — once the word got out that Venezuelans would just be let go, like wildfire, the numbers exploded from a few hundred a month to thousands a month, instantly, like this, because people respond to what cues they get about who’s going to be let go and who isn’t. But the administration is still trying to end this Title 42 thing that I had mentioned. It’s tied up in court. They’re going to win eventually, and at that point, who knows what they’re going to do, but they’re not willing to control this border. They don’t believe it.
Now, even mass legal immigration in our conditions today, modern conditions, are a problem with regard to assimilation in schools, welfare, jobs, et cetera, but that’s a whole extra talk, and I won’t filibuster on that one. That’s kind of the subject of the book I wrote a while back. Mass illegal immigration has all those same problems, and then you add on top of that the sovereignty rule of law issues.
But what I wanted to talk about before finishing is that — something that people talk about a lot with regard to what’s going on at the border: the issues of trafficking and of drugs. Let’s start on trafficking. There’s — trafficking and smuggling are two different things. Smuggling is where you’re voluntarily paying somebody for a service and they’re delivering you. You’re part of the crime. Trafficking, human trafficking, is different; that’s where, essentially, it’s coercion or trickery or lies. You’re being kidnapped or in some other way coerced and being used for forced labor, prostitution, forced farm labor, what have you.
With mass illegal immigration like we’re seeing today, you have both of those phenomena and you have them kind of bleeding into each other, because if you’re somebody in Honduras or Haiti, not to mention Tajikistan or Mauritania, and believe me, we’re getting people from there, too — say you want to come to America and you heard through the grapevine that the gringos are letting anybody in. Well, how the heck are you going to get to the Rio Grande? You don’t have that much money for it. So what you do is, you put yourself — you go and hawk to these smuggling groups, and it’s a voluntary thing. You’re doing it knowingly. But they own you. And in fact, they may decide, okay, well, you’re going to pay the other half when you get here, work it off by washing dishes for three years without pay, but you know, we just raised the price and we’re holding you in this stash house, and there’s a lot of them in Arizona and elsewhere, and we’re going to call your family and they’re going to wire the extra money tomorrow or we’re going to cut your other ear off.
So smuggling and trafficking end up sort of bleeding into each other, and they are inevitably part of this administration’s policy or a result of the policy of mass admissions, because even if the border were totally open and the administration got what it wanted and there was nobody patrolling anything, it was just like the county line, you would still have this phenomenon. Because like I said, if you’re a farmer in Honduras, how the heck do you get to the Rio Grande? You are going to end up sort of becoming a kind of indentured servant, which is inevitably exploitative.
And the other thing I want to talk about is drugs. There’s always going to be some drugs coming over the border. I mean, even with better border enforcement, it’s still going to happen to some degree, and some of it comes between the legal crossing points — they’re called ports of entry. That’s where the border patrol is, in between. And some of it’s going to come through the legal ports of entry where they’ll hollow out a dashboard and stick dope in there or any number of things, as the drug traffickers are really imaginative. It’s a cat and mouse thing.
But this administration’s policies are making the smuggling dramatically worse. Fentanyl is an easy thing to move because it’s so small. Marijuana, you’ve got to have guys packing, humping these big backpacks over, and why bother, just open a farm in California and grow it yourself. But the reason this administration’s policies are facilitating the mass importation of fentanyl and other drugs is that the border patrol is overwhelmed and incapable of doing patrolling the border. The cartels don’t do the alien smuggling themselves, generally speaking. There are separate criminal groups that do alien smuggling, but they have to pay the drug cartels a kind of tax because the cartels — different cartels control the entire 2,000 miles of the border on the Mexican side, and if you’re going through their turf, you need to pay them.
But what the cartels also do, the drug cartels, is they’ll tell the smuggling group, okay, you take your 100, 200, 300 people at a time and you’re going to do it at this point on the river at this time of day. And we’ll give you 10% off. And don’t ask what’s happening five miles up the river. They use these alien, these mass alien crossings as an intentional diversionary tactic so that they can get their drugs or people that don’t want to turn themselves in — criminals, terrorists, even just people who have been deported before, because if you come back after you’re formally deported, that’s a felony — and use that as a way to get across, because once 300 people show up, guess what? You pretty much have to strip the border of all of the agents that are doing border patrol to process these people, and if there’s a lot of kids among them — and if you bring a kid, that’s a guarantee of being let go — they end up having to go to Walmart and buy diapers and formula. They take the pregnant women, who basically wait until they go into labor, drive them to the hospital and they have to wait there the whole time, so that it is — it’s an intentional diversionary tactic, and once there’s nobody patrolling the border, then they can move whatever the heck — I mean, I’m surprised they’re not moving artillery pieces across — well, actually, maybe. I don’t know, probably not. But fentanyl is easy. You can just carry it in your pockets and it’s hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. Until that stops, you’re going to have this continue.
And I just want to end by saying, don’t have too much — don’t place too much hope on a Republican Congress trying to stop this, and I don’t say this just because we’re the stupid party, which we are. My point here, though, is that there’s a limit to what Congress can do. Congress can stop the administration, any administration, from doing specific things that it wants to do. It’s much more difficult to make them actually do something that they don’t want to do.
You’re going to see Congress do three things. Republican House — assuming that happens — one, there’s going to be hearings and investigations. This administration is the least transparent administration in history, especially when it comes to immigration. All kinds of stuff that the Trump Administration just threw up onto the web and just go and look at it. They just won’t tell you. We file FOIAs like there’s no tomorrow, we’re trying to keep up with judicial watch and filing FOIAs, but they do a lot more of it. But we’re doing a lot of it. We’re suing them. And we’re getting some information out of them, but they do not want to release it. So you’re going to see investigations and hearings.
Second thing you’re going to see is — I hope they’re going to do this — Secretory Mayorkas needs to be impeached. This is Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Now, look; even if he’s removed — or he won’t be removed because you need two thirds of the senate to do it. But just impeaching him, and the hearings that will take place, and then the trial in the senate, even if it doesn’t result in removal from office, is essential.
And it’s essential, I think, for two reasons. One is, it’s going to force the administration to reveal information it doesn’t want to. And second, I think — and this is just me, but impeaching the president is not a political winner. It’s not going to work. We did it with Clinton; it didn’t work. The Democrats did it with Trump; it didn’t really do all that much good. Impeachment is a political act, and I think this is a way to focus Republican lawmakers’ and public voters’ interest in impeaching somebody on somebody that we can, in fact, successfully impeach, and it isn’t going to hurt us politically. Because Mayorkas is an extraordinarily unappealing figure. Nobody really likes him. He’s not a likeable guy. He does terrible on TV. I mean, he’s there saying the border is secure. They’re asking him, is the border secure? He says, yes. Well, what kind of ridiculous thing is that? I mean, they’re going to make a fool of him, and that’s good.
So — and then the third thing, the purse strings. Republican House is going to try to use funding bills to get some stuff done. We’ll see how well that works out. We always lose government shutdown fights. So they’re going to do something like that; whether they do it in a smart way and sort of pick particular things where they can win on, or whether they just try to sort of overreach and end up — the president vetoes it and then we have a whole fiasco of a government shutdown, that remains to be seen.
But until we get a new administration, this is going to continue. We’ve got two more years of this absurdity at the border, and we’re going to end up — in 2025, there’s going to be — there could be four, five, even six million extra illegal aliens that this administration let in, and I guarantee you, the Democrats are in the minority — even if they’re in the minority, they’re going to say, we need to give these people legal status because they’ve been here so long. You’re going to — you heard it here first, it’s going to happen. We’ve got to — the Republicans in the Congress have to do what — anything they can to slow it down, but ultimately, until we get a new president, whether that’s Trump or DeSantis, this is going to continue.
That’s all I’ve got for you. Thank you.