‘We Warned Them’: Trump Immigration Official Talks Border Crisis

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The Department of Homeland Security said last week that illegal border crossings are on pace to reach their highest level in two decades.

On top of that, both Fox and NBC reported that illegal aliens are being released into the U.S. without court dates for asylum request hearings, but on Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that isn’t true.

What’s really going on at the border?

“They inherited a system that worked,” said Mark Morgan, former acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection in the Trump administration, adding:

[The Biden administration] inherited a system with cooperation with Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries, the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy, the Asylum Cooperative Agreements with the Northern Triangle countries. We ended catch and release.

We had got these countries together to really look and act and work together as the regional crisis that it is, and we saw a significant reduction in the flow, as well as we had eliminated an incredible incentive, catch and release.

Morgan, now a visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation, joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to discuss all this and more.

“Last month, in the month of February, they saw over 100,000 apprehensions of people trying to illegally enter the border,” he said.

I think in March, you’re going to see that number skyrocket—120,000, 130,000, if not reaching the numbers at the height of the crisis that we saw in 2019.

We also cover these stories:

  • A 21-year-old man is charged by Colorado law enforcement in the shooting rampage that left 10 dead in Boulder. 
  • Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., says the Senate will take action on gun control after deadly shootings in Boulder and Atlanta. 
  • Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has harsh words for Democrats attempting to unseat Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, who won by six votes over Democrat Rita Hart. 

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Rachel del Guidice: I’m joined today on “The Daily Signal Podcast” by Mark Morgan, a visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation and formerly an acting commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in the Trump administration. Mark, it’s great to have you back on “The Daily Signal Podcast.”

Mark Morgan: Thanks for having me, Rachel.

Del Guidice: It’s great to have you with us. Well, it’s no news to anyone who’s actually following the situation at the border right now that the border has been rapidly deteriorating since President Joe Biden took office. Can you tell us about what’s happening on the ground right now?

Morgan: Yeah. Well, I think everyone’s familiar with what has transpired with how just with the stroke of a pen President Biden has dismantled and removed almost every effective tool, authority, and policy that we had that was effectively managing the crisis along our southwest border, specifically on the illegal immigration side.

And what we’ve seen is a skyrocket in the numbers. Just let me give you a few stats that I think are very important.

Last month, in the month of February, they saw over 100,000 apprehensions of people trying to illegally enter the border. I think in March, you’re going to see that number skyrocket 120,000, 130,000, if not reaching the numbers at the height of the crisis that we saw in 2019.

And what we’re seeing, daily averages anywhere from 4,500 a day to 6,000. Right now they’ve got over 10,000 individuals in their custody. As a frame of reference, by November of 2020, we had less than 800 in our custody.

… And let’s keep in mind that they’ve released over 20,000 illegal immigrants since January, but the American people [don’t] know that because this administration is hiding that information from them.

Del Guidice: On that note, Mark, the Department of Homeland Security recently said that the migrant border crossings are on pace to reach the highest level in two decades. Whose fault is this?

Morgan: This is a clear, clear answer for me. It is 100% at the feet of this administration.

Look, Rachel, we were very clear, you can play news clips of myself, and I wasn’t the only one that, prior to the election, we said that any administration that implements what the Biden administration said they were going to do during their campaign, that you would create a crisis that would pale in comparison to what we saw in 2019.

We said it over and over again. We gave them fact after fact, reality after reality. Then when the election came and Biden won—look, we provided exhaustive briefings to the Biden administration transition team. We warned them that if they removed the effective tools, like they said they were going to do all in one fell swoop of the executive orders, that they would cause a crisis.

We told them that the Border Patrol facilities could not handle it. We said … that you would absolutely cause Crisis 2.0. They let their ideologic hubris get in the way, they refused to listen to border security experts, and they did what they wanted to do. And now we have a crisis.

Del Guidice: We’ve basically answered this next question, but I did want to ask you how Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, said on Sunday that the Biden administration inherited “a broken system at the border.” Is that the case?

Morgan: It’s the same mantra that they used for COVID vaccines. The same administration that said they had to start from scratch on the vaccines, although [Operation] Warp Speed, every medical expert in this world says that the Trump administration came up with a vaccine faster than in the history of mankind almost. And it’s the same thing, the same mantra that they’re trying to put on the immigration.

No, they inherited a system that worked. They inherited a system with cooperation with Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries, the “Remain in Mexico” policy, the Asylum Cooperative Agreements with the Northern Triangle countries.

We ended catch and release. We had got these countries together to really look and act and work together as the regional crisis that it is, and we saw a significant reduction in the flow as well as we had eliminated an incredible incentive, catch and release.

No, they inherited a system that was working. They are now navigating a system that is completely dismantled, but they’re the ones that dismantled it.

They ended [the Migrant Protection Protocols]. They reinstated catch and release. They rescinded the Asylum Cooperative Agreements. And they have absolutely told, “If you’re an unaccompanied minor, the border is wide open for you again.” And they refuse to apply Title 42 while we’re still navigating the COVID. It’s an absolute lie what’s being said.

Del Guidice: We’ve mentioned the situation of how minors are being allowed in and something that I’ve talked with different law enforcement officials about at the border when I visited, and I know something that you all talk about, is the situation of human trafficking.

So when you have something like this happen where the border is open, really no questions are being asked, how does that facilitate or I guess help? I mean, does it help human trafficking?

Morgan: Yeah. So, Rachel, I really appreciate you asking this question because your listeners really need to understand how critically important this is. So the straight answer is, of course, it does. I know somewhat of a rhetorical question, but we need to keep highlighting and talking about it.

Look, they continue to want to talk about cruel and inhumane policies, which is just another flat-out lie. This is what I will submit to your listeners, what is cruel and inhumane is any country that encourages, incentivizes, and facilitates illegal immigration where individuals are putting their loved ones in the hands of cartels where independent studies say up to 30% of are abused on the journey.

In the middle of COVID they’re traveling through COVID hot spots. When they get to the border, they’re kept in unsanitary, overcrowded stash houses for days and weeks and shoved in tractor-trailers where the temperatures reach 120 degrees, where people have died.

And as they cross the border, the coyotes leave them in the middle of the Rio Grande River in a desert isolated area to oftentimes die or have to be rescued by Border Patrol. If anything is cruel and inhumane it’s policies that actually incentivize and encourage that behavior.

Then, on top of that, as the numbers are skyrocketing, of course, the number of individuals being trafficked are also skyrocketing. They don’t talk about that.

And, Rachel, real quick, I know we’re probably running out of time, but this is also an important aspect as well, and this is another dirty little secret they won’t tell you:

Everybody wants to talk about the 7-, 8-year-old, tender-age individual that’s coming across the border. Of course, all our hearts should go out to that, and we should be doing everything we can to stop it instead of incentivizing it, but here’s the reality: 75% of the so-called unaccompanied minors are 15, 16, and 17 years old.

They are older teenagers. In the Western Hemisphere, a lot of countries, that’s military and working age.

They’re not being ripped from their parents. They’re making this on their own and their sole reason is to get a job. Because when they’re in Guatemala right now, they’re texting their buddy in Los Angeles that’s telling them, “Hey, come now. Biden is letting you in.” And that’s the truth.

Del Guidice: Both Fox and NBC have reported that illegal aliens are being released into the U.S. without court dates. But on Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that was not true, that it’s not the case that they’re being released without court dates. What is true?

Morgan: Once again, you can put another check mark, another lie. I’ve lost track of the number of lies that she’s told as well as the DHS secretary.

For example, the DHS secretary saying the borders are secure. That’s a joke. That’s a lie. And it’s actually insulting to the men and women on our front lines risking their lives to defend our borders when the secretary says they’re secure.

But with this specific comment, yes, [they’re] being released.

Look, the Border Patrol has no choice, Rachel. Their facilities are jammed and overcrowded. There’s a couple that are 500%, 600% over the COVID restriction capacity.

And you’ve got [the Department of Health and Human Services] that is broke and they don’t have the facilities to take the unaccompanied kids. You’ve got [Immigration and Customs Enforcement], their ability to detain people has all but been removed. And so the Border Patrol is saying, “Hey, look, this is ridiculous.”

And besides that, we know “notice to appear” under this administration is completely irrelevant, because even if you give somebody a notice to appear, they’re telling ICE, “Don’t enforce it.”

That will relieve Border Patrol from hours and hours of processing time just to help relieve the pressure of their overcrowded facilities. But make no mistake, they’re still being released. They don’t have legal status. They know they don’t have legal status. And they’re told to contact an ICE office to get a court date and etc.

It’s just horrendous. And all of this could have been prevented.

Del Guidice: Well, also on Monday, going back to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, another reporter had asked her, “Will you allow the press to cover these overflowing child detention centers at the border?” And she said that, “I don’t pull the levers here.”

Do you think the Biden administration is hesitant for the media to go to the border? And if so, why?

Morgan: So, two things. One, yes. And two, another lie.

Look, I’ve been there. I’ve been at the highest levels of government in the middle of this divisive issue, and I’m telling you right now, the White House is absolutely unequivocally having discussions with the DHS secretary about whether they should let people in or not. So that’s just another blatant lie and misdirection that she’s telling the American people.

Look, I saw a quote the other day, and one of the reasons they gave the reporter was because of privacy and COVID reasons. That’s all a bunch of hogwash.

I was there. We addressed the privacy concern. That could be easily done. You don’t use names and you blur faces. We did it under the Trump administration. It worked effectively. The media and journalists abided by those rules.

And COVID, look, I’m sure every single reporter that [they] gave access, they’d do the same thing that nurses and doctors would do, give them a Tyvek suit and a nice face shield, keep distance, and there’s no issue.

Look, they talk about being unified and being transparent, one of the best things you can do for the American people to get trust and confidence in the government is to be absolutely transparent.

We did that under the Trump administration. This administration is doing exactly the opposite, and we know why, because what they see doesn’t fit their narrative and the stats do not fit what they’re telling the people.

Del Guidice: Well, do you think it’s possible for the crisis at the border to be fixed? And what would you recommend the Biden administration to do?

Morgan: No. It’s not going to be fixed under this administration, at least not my definition of fixed. Because, look, this is important, a lot of people have said, “Oh, look what they did. They dismantled every effective tool and policy that was there to manage the crisis effectively, and they didn’t have a strategy.” I respectfully disagree. They are implementing their strategy.

Their strategy, look, it’s hard to have a strategy where you are trying to prevent, apprehend, detain, and lawfully remove. That’s tough. But when your strategy is to release people who illegally cross as fast as humanly possible and do nothing else, that’s pretty easy to get a handle on.

That’s their strategy. It’s just happening faster than they anticipated because they didn’t listen to the experts.

And at the end of the day, though, our last resort, our last defenders are the states. We need states’ attorneys general, we need governors, we need state legislatures to step up and to challenge the unconstitutional, unlawful, dangerous policies of this administration.

The AG of Texas and the governor of Texas [are] doing it. They’re doing it effectively. And we need more states to step up and do the same thing.

Del Guidice: Lastly, what will the long-term consequences be if the crisis at the border is not addressed?

Morgan: Look, we’re seeing the consequences every single day and it’s going to have long-term consequences. Right now we’ve got millions and millions of people that are in the country illegally. We have no idea who they are.

Right now we are interjecting more illegal aliens into the country, which, again, won’t show up for their court hearings, so the courts are further being backlogged. The last time I checked, we had over 800,000 people that are here illegally waiting for their court hearings. … And you’re also going to jeopardize our national security.

Look, as Border Patrol agents are being pulled away to address a humanitarian issue, there are wide swaths of the border that are wide open and unmonitored. You’re going to stand a chance of an increased number of illegal criminal aliens entering as well as drugs. It killed 60,000 people last year, the drug overdoses.

Right now, they’re estimating between 800 to 1,000 immigrants are got-aways across the southwest border every single day.

And the last comment real quick is, think about it, the majority of people illegally entering, they’re unskilled, they’re uneducated, don’t speak the language, and they don’t have a strong, familiar connection and no job opportunities. They’re going to become welfare recipients upon their first days arriving to the United States. That’s going to have an economic impact for years and decades.

Del Guidice: Well, Mark, thank you so much for joining us on “The Daily Signal Podcast.” We appreciate having you with us.

Morgan: Thanks, Rachel. Appreciate it. Any time.

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