“Immigration is tough. It always has been because, on the one hand, I think we are naturally a people that wants to help others. And we see tragedy and hardship and families that are desperately trying to get here so that their kids are safe. … At the same time, we’re a nation state. We have borders. The idea that we can just have open borders is something that … as a practical matter, is unsustainable.”—Barack Obama, Sept. 28, 2021, interview, Good Morning America
Todd Bensman has published his latest book on illegal immigration, “Overrun: How Joe Biden Unleashed the Greatest Border Crisis in U.S. History.” Bensman currently serves as the Texas-based senior national security fellow for the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), a Washington policy institute. His reporting in the book is precise, accurate, and responsible. This is not a book that the reader will easily forget.
Most of the immigrants at the heart of this book are not like Bubbe (Bensman’s name for his great-grandmother) or Refuseniks, who were fleeing real persecution and arrived legally. The immigrants Bensman covers are fleeing poverty, local crime, and poor governance, and these unfortunately describe the common conditions of billions of people throughout the world. The United States simply cannot take in this huge group.
The book offers a stark contrast between Trump’s illegal immigration policies and Biden’s. Seeing the facts laid out side by side without the accompanying propaganda of mainstream media is mind blowing and certainly worth the price of the book.
A Contrast of Policy
Bensman clearly shows that Biden’s immigration policy is based on reversing many of the immigration policies of the previous Trump administration. For example, while Trump favored the wall, Biden did not. Trump deported many migrants back to their home countries, while Biden has largely halted deportation, except in cases of terrorism, espionage, or threats to public safety.
The Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy denied claimants the highly coveted immediate entry to the United States. Biden, though, worked to abolish ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), the agency that manages the number of illegals deported.
By cutting off millions in aid to illegal migrants, the Trump administration forced Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico to sign “Safe Third Country” agreements. The gist of these was that any migrant who passed through one of these countries without first applying for asylum in that country could not apply for U.S. asylum and could be returned home.
The Biden administration, on the other hand, considered building the economies of these Central American nations to get to the root causes of immigration. This tactic does not work, because today’s illegal migrants come from many other countries in addition to these three.
According to Bensman, Trump’s policies worked. Biden’s policies haven’t, because border-jumpers need to feel confident of two outcomes: first, that the fortune the migrants pay smugglers will buy a successful entry; second, once the border-jumpers are inside the United States, that there will be very little chance that they will be deported. The migrants need to work and earn many times more than their smuggling fee to make the trip worthwhile.
A Bridge and the Wall
Other chapters go into detail about how illegal border crossing is not a victimless crime. Child labor abuse, rape, enslavement, and physical beatings may result. Overcrowding and offenses involving dangerous drugs top the list. By virtue of conditions within countries outside of this hemisphere, the migrant traffic now carries a different complexion of threats: infiltration by Islamic terrorists, African war criminals, Ukrainian mobsters, and foreign intelligence agents of Russia, China, Venezuela, Cuba, and Iran.
Bensman has a chapter about what happened to Trump’s “big, beautiful wall.” Ads leading up to Biden’s inauguration said that the wall was not a serious deterrent for sophisticated criminal organizations because, among other reasons, criminals employ border tunnels, semi-submersible vessels, and aerial technology to overcome physical barriers at the border. Bensman explains why Biden’s ads are false.
After the November election in 2020, contractors ramped up work to 24/7 to put up as much wall as possible before the inauguration. Biden set his freeze day for the work on Jan. 27, and builders waged a literal race against time. It’s quite emotional to read what happened when the work stopped. Bensman was there. The bustling of the building went to a bleak standstill.
The other chapter that really stands out is about the Del Rio bridge incident. Mexico sent Haitians toward the American border in one volatile mass, in violation of agreements with the Biden administration to clear streets for a holiday party. On Sept. 11, 2021, a few hundred Haitian immigrant families walked across a shallow Rio Grande and claimed asylum to the Border Patrol under the Del Rio bridge.
Days later, the number quickly grew to 17,000. The Haitians formed a huge, fetid refugee encampment without modern precedent in America. Bensman claims that most gave false asylum claims because they had already claimed asylum in two countries, Brazil and Chile, and had full residency and work authorization in either place. According to Bensman, most had been making money and were financially secure. They lied and told the officers they came directly from Haiti.
In a flash, the area beneath Del Rio’s bridge was in the international spotlight, a political nightmare for Biden. These migrants could not be ignored like the hundreds of thousands that had poured in before. The administration got them off the border in a flash to ensure they had no time to establish vast unsanitary camps, which make for good nightly TV news.
Many Haitians were released into America, many escaped back to Mexico, and many took repatriation flights back to Haiti. None of these options was best for the migrants since most of these Haitians had been living in Chile or Brazil for years. The camp emptied in 96 hours.
The Del Rio bridge incident demonstrated that the Biden administration could end mass migration quickly if it wanted to.
A Permanent Fix
What’s to be done? Bensman says that Trump-era stop-gap policies can help by denying migrants the main motivating benefits for coming to the United States. Yet these measures are not permanent fixes.
Among Bensman’s ideas for a permanent solution would be to see the asylum system eliminated completely and rebuilt from scratch. Until we utterly reform the U.S. asylum system from top to bottom and the laws behind it, the border problem will not be solved. Nations are allowed to rethink international or binational agreements with other countries.
Bensman also wants to give the Department of Homeland Security and the immigration courts more flexibility and time to process the unauthorized arrivals than what is currently permitted. And, the United States would need to fund detention facilities, legal processing infrastructure, and especially air transport to origin countries for successful control of the border.
Bensman accurately documents how the Biden administration threw away the most secure border in modern history. Now, America is much more vulnerable to attack. Bensman is a modern Paul Revere; he is warning us: Now is the time to take heed.