Conservatives who seek to defend the country must analyze and draw on Todd Bensman’s hard-won and operational insights, now.
“They come in from all over Central America, Haiti, Africa, Indonesia and from all over South America; they just keep coming and keep coming and keep coming.”José, a Mexican criminal cartel operative interviewed by author Todd Bensman
Overrun: How Joe Biden Unleashed the Greatest Border Crisis in U.S. History, by Todd Bensman, Bombardier Books, 432 pages
By the end of four years in power, the Biden administration will almost surely have admitted over 10 million illegal immigrants. Todd Bensman’s Overrun: How Joe Biden Unleashed the Greatest Border Crisis in U.S. History is an essential book for understanding this migrant maelstrom. Reading his analysis of the unfolding border catastrophe can be wrenching, even infuriating, but conservatives need to grapple with a historic disaster, and the valuable material presented in this important book.
Overrun is a fire-bell ringing in the night. A White House that erases national borders, ignores federal laws, and refuses to expel illegal arrivals is on a mission to fundamentally change the country. While the country’s situation is dire, even desperate, Overrun also offers crucial policy fixes, most notably the need to “tear down and rebuild the American asylum system.”
Few people know more about Biden’s disastrous policies than Bensman, a former intelligence official for the Texas Department of Public Safety, a border-security analyst, and an award-winning investigative journalist. As the reader would expect, Overrun examines much public policy, but it is also filled with human-interest stories based on the author’s field interviews with migrants, criminal operatives, and officials, both honest and corrupt. Bensman’s field research is unmatched; in compiling this book, the author dodged death threats and criminal gangs in his travels to the boondocks across Mexico and Central America.
Overrun is not “anti-immigrant.” Recounting his own family’s immigration history, Bensman writes with humanity about the many migrants he interviewed. But he also understands that concentrating on individual human dramas, as establishment journalists always do, obscures the true national tragedy: the unlawful and reckless federal government actions at the center of these historic events.
More than anything, Overrun details the Biden administration’s unprecedented, corrupt mismanagement of our country’s frontier. Government corruption is not just about gaining illicit financial profit; it is also about systematically upending rule of law by neglecting to enforce statutes and regulations, and issuing unlawful executive orders—exactly the strategy Biden officials are using to bypass Congress and force their radical immigration agenda on the nation.
Overrun explains how the Trump administration, when confronted with massive migrant surges in 2019, implemented policies including the border wall that got control of a porous, almost collapsing, southern frontier—perhaps the 45th president’s most remarkable achievement. Bensman details the way that Biden officials set out to recklessly repudiate and dismantle Trump’s security measures. In the words of one former border security officer, President Biden began to create the world’s largest crime scene on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Overrun lays out the outrageous (and impeachable) Biden orders that encouraged and accommodated millions of economic migrants in making false asylum claims, an act that is itself a federal offense. Bensman provides some of the best first-hand accounts in print of the infamous “migrant caravans” of tens of thousands surging to our frontier. The author observed how these so-called caravans, organized like military columns, used tactics of violent human surges to break through barriers and lines of security officers to make their way illegally into the United States. He writes of unprecedented human trafficking of children and women, spreading tragedy across the border and into the American heartland.
Under Biden’s migrant surge, Bensman reports that authorities have already matched over 114 border jumpers with identities on the U.S. government terrorist watchlist; these were just the ones who were caught. Untold numbers of other serious criminals and national security suspects, the “got-aways,” have certainly entered the country. Biden’s policies have resulted in clusters of young Muslim men, from regions and countries such as Chechnya, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Yemen, and Somalia, regularly gathering on the U.S. border in Tijuana, where many undertake clandestine entries and successfully disappear.
Overrun thoroughly documents the fact that the overwhelming majority of all these millions of unauthorized migrants are crossing the U.S. frontier to better their economic situations. They are not fleeing political oppression or criminal threats that might qualify them for U.S. asylum. They certainly are not on the move because of “climate change.” Like people everywhere, illegal migrants respond immediately and directly to U.S. government signals and actions, and the Biden administration is opening the door for them.
Many Americans still wonder why and how Democrats went from being simply pro-amnesty and “immigration reform” to supporting the radical open-border party of today. After all, just a few years back, immigration activists denounced Barack Obama as the “deporter-in-chief” and Bill Clinton implemented real border enforcement measures. What happened?
The reader of Overrun will learn about the diplomatic duplicity of Mexico, the internal fight between Biden administration border moderates and radicals (spoiler alert: the radicals won), and the daunting subversive power of the pro-immigration and open-border political lobbies. Open-borderism (like Marxism in the Depression-era 1930s) is a surging political force, animating a coordinated effort by the usual crowd: global NGOs, media, academics, church groups, and establishment international organizations.
In 2015, candidate Donald Trump showed up to raucously object to this human onslaught. The Trump presidency interrupted the march of these powerful social, legal, and political forces chipping away at U.S. border enforcement and immigration restrictions. Trump’s 2016 victory forced pro-immigration Republicans out of the party’s leadership and laid bare the struggle that many in the GOP refused to face. Trump’s triumph also further radicalized Democrats.
By primary season in 2020, all establishment Democrats had embraced far-left positions. Bensman writes:
the Democratic Party, and every one of the mainstream presidential contenders, to include Biden and Harris, began messaging as their own the most fringe ideas about immigration and the border ever heard on the American public square:
End all deportation
Extend U.S. asylum access to all comers
Grant mass citizenship
Free health care to all
Stop the Wall
After his November victory, President-elect Biden hesitated not at all in offering the open-border radicals senior positions in the new administration, with perhaps the most destructively consequential appointment going to Alejandro “Ali” Mayorkas. The Cuban-born Mayorkas had already served in Obama’s Department of Homeland Security (heading USCIS) where he was known for rubber-stamping the entry of all migrants, regardless of fraud or criminal concerns. Biden named Mayorkas DHS secretary, giving him the keys to the kingdom.
As a U.S. diplomat abroad in the 1990s, I first encountered open-border extremists in NGOs and foreign governments, who fiercely resisted the notion that legal immigrants should even be expected to assimilate when they arrived in the United States.
This curious position—“no assimilation”—was just a harbinger of what was to come, which joined other agitprop slogans like “no human is illegal” and “no borders,” as part of coordinated campaigns to change attitudes among establishment liberal policymakers about illegal immigration and undermine legitimate border enforcement activities. The “defund border police” termites have been gnawing away for years.
Overrun details the way big-money groups, such as the Carnegie and Ford foundations, joined by George Soros’s Open Society outfit, paid out over two decades “more than $400 million in public education messaging, lobbying and pestering big media companies to start using the language and promoting the idea that normal immigration enforcement offended the civil rights of all humanity.”
Meanwhile, immigration advocacy organizations like the National Council of La Raza and the Migrants Rights Network joined in lockstep with almost all of the left-leaning civil rights community, such as the ACLU. It is no surprise that the Southern Poverty Law Center has tarred and feathered mainstream policy think-tanks that push for immigration limits, such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), and (my own affiliation) the Center for Immigration Studies, smearing them as “hate groups.” The goal is to demonize border enforcement, detentions, and removals as a new Jim Crow.
Overrun relates Bensman’s discovery and exposure of how U.S. foreign assistance granted to U.N. organizations was helping finance the international movement of illegal migrants. In 2021, working the field around Reynosa, Mexico, Bensman witnessed crowds lining up to fill out paperwork to receive electronic cash subsidies up to “$400, rechargeable every 15 days,” paid out by the U.N.-affiliated International Organization for Migration (IOM) to migrants deemed “vulnerable.”
Smelling a federal-government-funded rat, Bensman investigated these payments all over Mexico, including down to that country’s infamous southern border town of Tapachula, documenting that unknown amounts of cash payments from IOM and the U.N. High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) were basically helping illegal migrants pay their travel and survival costs all the way to the U.S. border. Bensman writes:
Indeed, the State Department provides tens of millions of dollars to UN agencies handing out cash. In turn, the IOM spent more than $60 million in 2019 for activities in the northern part of South American, Central America, and Mexico during the so-called “caravan migrant crisis” earlier that year, its public budget reports. Biden’s 2022 budget called for $10 billion in humanitarian assistance “to support vulnerable people abroad.”
Outraged, U.S. Congressman Lance Gooden (R-TX) proposed legislation to ensure no American tax dollars would finance this kind of IOM and UNHCR phony humanitarian work, which only served to entice migrants—with free money—to hit the road. Gooden is right to defund such nonsense, but it appears that the congressman’s draft bill seeks to prohibit all U.S. funding for the U.N. Would such sweeping legislation ever have a chance?
A smarter legislative tactic, in my judgment, is for the congressman and his allies to focus not on all U.N. contributions, but on State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), which grants IOM and UNHCR much of their funding. Start by subpoenaing PRM Assistant Secretary of State Julieta Noyes before a House committee and demanding no U.S. funds be paid to migrants on the move.
This is just one of the many underdiscussed issues that Overrun exposes, setting up conservative policymakers to counterattack the Biden administration. Bensman also examines the enormous domestic challenges for states and local governments that come with managing millions of illegal migrants. The author convincingly demonstrates that the largest first impact of Biden migrants is on already roiling public-school systems. And it will get worse, as Bensman writes:
six or ten million largely poor, uneducated, and needy people – many whose short-term legality will run out and leave them to live marginally in the shadows – will impact the American criminal justice system in permanent burdensome ways. Many of these impacts are not calculable as the human torrent continues. But as millions of illegal immigrants push the U.S. population into new record territory at extraordinary rates, the nation should expect to see unplanned-for demands on public welfare and assistance programs, health care systems, Social Security, housing, labor markets, playgrounds, and homeless encampments.
It is more than sobering to contemplate a second Biden term. Conservatives who seek to defend the country must analyze and draw on Bensman’s hard-won and operational insights, now. Restoring border security has become our national emergency.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Phillip Linderman is a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies and a retired U.S. career diplomat.