On Wednesday, Dec. 21, 1988, Pan Am flight 103 from London to New York exploded over Scotland. A bomb, planted by Libyan terrorists, killed all 270 people aboard.
Two days later, I boarded flight 103, one of maybe 30 passengers. Hardly a word was spoken for the entire trip. None of us wanted to fly, but I was a broke student and wanted to be home for Christmas. This is like yesterday to me.
What’s that got to do with immigration, you ask? Stay with me as I connect the dots.
The daily parade of bad news from our southern border has gotten worse. The chutzpah of the Biden administration’s approach to illegal immigration is on full display. Democrats seem to be doing a grand experiment: What would happen if there were no border at all? Would voters care? Would Congress defund or impeach them?
President Joe Biden clearly has no intention of deporting even a small percentage of the 2-3 million people who’ve forced their way into our country since he took office. He can’t even be bothered to visit the border. Jeh Johnson, Obama’s Department of Homeland Security secretary, recently admitted that the U.S. asylum system was totally broken, taking more than six years to decide a case and then failing to deport the more than 80% who don’t qualify. The long-term results of Biden’s open-border experiment are yet to be seen.
For Biden or his senior officials, there have been no short-term consequences. That’s not the case for working-level DHS officers. They have been forced to do clerical work—processing bogus asylum-seekers by the thousands—while knowing that drugs, criminals, and terrorist suspects are coming in unscathed. This is morale-sapping. Border security is a hard job that takes a toll on agents’ health even at the best of times. This year, 14 Border Patrol agents have taken their own lives, and one died in the line of duty this month.
Biden’s deliberate neglect of border enforcement also has massive costs for the whole country. It burdens border communities with thousands of indigent aliens left to fend on the streets. It requires cities such as New York and Washington, D.C., to find millions of dollars to provide shelter, medical care, and schools for foreigners. It siphons millions from the DHS and Federal Emergency Management Agency budgets to feed the nongovernmental organizations that aid and abet illegal immigration. It pulls Border Patrol off their prime duties of patrolling the border to interdict illegal crossers and drugs.
The latest straw on that camel’s back is news that DHS has pulled air marshals off flights to help process aliens into the country. Title 42 is due to expire on Wednesday, and with it, the last floodgate preventing the world from illegally entering a prostrate U.S. by land. The current border torrent is expected to grow to a never-ending flood. DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is pulling "volunteer" bodies from all parts of his agency to keep his Mayorkas Migration Machine running even faster, as migrant numbers rise and rumors abound of amnesty deals in Congress.
While TSA air marshals are diverted to the border, their coverage will fall from 5% of all flights down to only 1%, according to Sonja Labosco of the Air Marshal National Council. This is in a time of increasing air-rage incidents and attempts to breach the doors into the cockpit. The risk of hijacking isn’t zero either. About 100 terrorist suspects have been apprehended at the border this past year, but no one knows how many more may have avoided detection and made it into this country.
You may have read that one of the suspects in the Lockerbie bombing appeared in a Washington, D.C., court last Monday. Abu Agila Mohammad Masud Kheir al Marimi was captured in Libya and brought to the U.S., probably in an “extraordinary rendition.” For the sake of the Lockerbie victims and their families, I hope he gets justice. Muammar Gaddafi, whatever role he played in the terrorist attack, eventually got his.
Mayorkas controls DHS, and so the Air Marshals are under his orders. He now assumes the risk of pulling them off the duty for which they were trained and funded. For all our sakes, I hope he’s lucky. For air passengers over the holidays, flights home just got a little less safe.
This piece originally appeared in the Washington Examiner