Last Friday, President Joe Biden was interviewed by NBC News about immigration and the border crisis. Experts say that the President made “numerous false or misleading statements” on the topic during the interview. Four members of the homeland security team at The Heritage Foundation responded to the claims by President Biden.
Mark Morgan is the former acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Chad Wolf is the former secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Mike Howell is an attorney that previously worked in the general counsel’s office for the Department of Homeland Security. The three men, plus Lora Ries, work for The Heritage Foundation. They responded to the following claims.
Claim No. 1: Biden inherited “one God-awful mess at the border” from the Trump administration. Rating: False [Answered by Chad Wolf.]
The border crisis is entirely of the Biden administration’s own making, and it’s critical to understand the context in which it’s happening.
In the final months of the Trump administration, we saw border apprehensions increase because more people were coming illegally in the hopes of a Biden election victory. However, it wasn’t until the Biden administration took office that monthly apprehensions exploded, as Department of Homeland Security numbers make clear. [Emphasis added.]
This administration inherited a border that was under control thanks to strong and effective actions by the Trump administration. In May 2019 – the height of the 2019 crisis – 140,000 illegal aliens were caught crossing the border. However, by November 2019, this number was down to 42,000, and by April 2020, apprehensions were down to about 17,000.
This decrease was thanks to the Migrant Protection Protocols, which essentially eliminated fraudulent asylum claims at the southern border; asylum cooperative agreements with Northern Triangle countries, which gave individuals the ability to apply for protection closer to their home country instead of the southern border; and more construction of the border wall.
Every single one of these effective policies was still in place on Jan. 20, 2021, when Biden undid them with the stroke of a pen in the first days of his administration. We’ve seen the numbers skyrocket since. Biden inherited the most secure border in U.S. history, and promptly blew it apart. [Emphasis added.]
Claim No. 2: “It is getting urgent action now.” Rating: False [Answered by
This claim is fatuous on its face. Vice President Kamala Harris, who Biden tapped several weeks ago to lead the crisis response, won’t even visit the Norther Triangle until June.
Holding Zoom calls and calling for amnesty is not “urgent action.” Building more intake facilities is not urgent action, either….
“Urgent action” would be restarting construction of the border wall…. It would be restoring the Migrant Protection Protocols and asylum cooperative agreements with Northern Triangle countries. It would be untying the hands of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other law enforcement to allow them to deport those here illegally….
Claim No. 3: “For example, a month ago, we had thousands of young kids in custody in places they shouldn’t be, and controlled by the Border Patrol. We have now cut that down dramatically.” Rating: Misleading [Answered by Lora Ries.]
While the number of unaccompanied minors in Customs and Border Protection custody has decreased, the numbers are clear: Most of those minors are simply being transferred from one government agency to another – in this case, CBP custody to the Department of Health and Human Services.
In fact, more than 23,000 minors are [now in] federal custom as of a few days ago, more than 21,000 of which have been transferred to HHS….
And no matter who has custody of these minors, the Biden administration is doing nothing to eliminate the incentives for Centra and South American parents to continue to send their children to the border. Until that happens, these sky-high numbers will persist.
Claim No. 4: “Hey, look, here’s what happened – the failure to have a real transition. The two departments that didn’t give us access to virtually anything were the immigration [department] and the Defense Department. So, we didn’t find out they had fired a whole lot of people, that they were understaffed considerably.” Rating: False [Answered by Chad Wolf.]
What the president of the United States said is untrue. Plain and simple.
At the Department of Homeland Security, we provided the transition team with more than 200 extensive briefings on homeland security issues, the majority of which dealt with the border, immigration policy, and the processes and procedures we had in place to secure the border and reduce asylum fraud….
It's also untrue to claim anyone in DHS was fired during the transition. Not only is this factually incorrect, but it is illegal to remove any career executives for 120 days during a change in administration.
The Biden administration is not being truthful….
Claim No. 5: “Well, look, it is way down now. We’ve now gotten control.”
Rating: False [Answered by Mark Morgan.]
Nothing about the border crisis is “under control.” In just two months, more than 334,000 illegal aliens have been apprehended trying to cross our southern border, including 162,000 in April – the highest back-to-back monthly total in more than 15 years.
CBP officials also estimate more than 170,000 illegal aliens this fiscal year have evaded apprehension and are already in the U.S. Additionally, ICE is cutting arrests of violent criminal illegal aliens by 50%....
Claim No. 6: “For example, we have – they didn’t plan for, which it comes every year, this flow, whether it is 22,000 or 10,000, they didn’t have the beds that were available. They didn’t plan for the overflow. They didn’t plan for the Department of Health and Human Services to have places to take the kids from the Border Patrol and put them in beds where there was security and there were people who could take care of them. So, there is a significant change right now, a significant change in the circumstances for children coming to and at the border.” Rating: False [Answered by Mark Morgan.]
This is an outrageous claim – in November 2020, CBP under the Trump administration had fewer than 800 unaccompanied alien children, family units, and single adults in custody. In March of this year, that number had exploded to more than 10,000.
Even though apprehensions started increasing in 2020, as growing numbers of illegal migrants gambled on a potential Biden election victory and subsequent amnesty, the Trump administration had strong policies in place to quickly and responsibly process and deport most of these individuals. This meant there was no systemic issue with backlogs or overcrowded CBP or HHS facilities.
The Biden administration broke the system, and now has the temerity to blame the Trump administration for not implementing policies to anticipate its reckless behavior. It’s truly astounding.
Biden is right about one thing, though. The circumstances for children at the border have significantly changed. Biden’s open-borders agenda is only encouraging more unaccompanied minors and families to make the dangerous journey to the border, creating not only a humanitarian crisis, but also a windfall for the drug cartels and smugglers who profit off human misery, including, sadly, an ever-increasing number of children….
According to the experts quoted above, the President of the United States is lying to or misleading the American citizens about immigration and the southern border. He obviously does not want the truth to get out. He has not been to the border and neither has Kamala Harris. In fact, the administration would not let the media into the border facilities until they had moved out some of the unaccompanied minors.
The bottom line: Trump administration had the border situation under control with its policies. The Biden administration ended all the successful policies and invited the border surge. The crisis at the border belongs to Biden.