Measuring Biden Immigration Policy by the “But For” Standard

COMMENTARY Immigration

Measuring Biden Immigration Policy by the “But For” Standard

Aug 12, 2022 3 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Simon Hankinson

Senior Research Fellow

Simon is a senior research fellow in the Border Security and Immigration Center at The Heritage Foundation.
The U.S. and Mexico border on July 6, 2022 in Yuma, Arizona. RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty

Key Takeaways

These are just a few of the thousands of preventable crimes made easier by President Joe Biden’s abandonment of border enforcement.

Today, more than 200,000 people are apprehended monthly on the border, many of whom are still allowed into the country.

These are, to a greater or lesser extent, preventable crimes. "But for" the Biden administration’s open borders policy, all Americans would be safer.

In July, Gerson Fuentes, an illegal immigrant from Guatemala, was charged with raping a 10-year-old girl. The crime became a national news story, not because of Fuentes’s immigration status but because the girl traveled from Ohio to Indiana for an abortion in the wake of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision.

Earlier that month, two illegal immigrants in possession of rifles, handguns, and ample ammunition were arrested for plotting a mass shooting at a July 4 fireworks show in Richmond, Virginia.

In June, two illegal immigrants were arrested in Texas, along with two U.S. citizens, in connection with the deaths of 53 illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America. The victims had been left in the sweltering heat, locked in a semitrailer without air conditioning.

These are just a few of the thousands of preventable crimes made easier by President Joe Biden’s abandonment of border enforcement.

In law, there is something called the "but for" test. But for the accused person’s action, would the bad thing have happened? Let’s apply this test to the actions of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

In September 2021, Mayorkas issued a memo charting a new course in immigration law enforcement. The Department of Homeland Security would no longer expend resources "seeking to remove those who do not pose a threat," he declared. "The fact an individual is a removable noncitizen will not alone be the basis of an enforcement action against them." Arrests and deportation actions would focus on "noncitizens who are a threat to our national security, public safety, and border security."

Where has that gotten us?

Today, more than 200,000 people are apprehended monthly on the border, many of whom are still allowed into the country. Since Biden took office, it’s estimated that in addition to those caught and released, more than 900,000 "got-aways" entered the United States evading any kind of security review altogether.

So far in fiscal year 2022, DHS agents have arrested at the border more than 8,000 foreign nationals convicted of one or more crimes. Many more will have entered undetected. Thanks to the Biden administration’s immigration policies, up to 70% of border agents have been diverted from patrol to desk and social service jobs in which they process illegal migrants and facilitate their travel to the U.S. interior.

This abandonment of mission can only produce tragedy. Last week, the Washington Post reported that a 12-year-old girl had escaped a mobile home where she had been held "tied to bed posts for nearly a week … assaulted and drugged with alcohol." Shortly after discovering two bodies at the trailer, police arrested Jose Paulino Pascual-Reyes and charged him with first-degree kidnapping, three counts of capital murder, and two counts of abuse of a corpse.

A day later, the Daily Caller reported that the two other victims were the kidnapped girl’s mother and her 14-year-old brother — and that the suspect was an illegal immigrant. The mother and her two children had been in the U.S. on parole since 2017, pending a decision on their asylum application. Pascual-Reyes had been deported at least once before, but he apparently had no problem getting back into the U.S.

Applying the "but for" test, it is credible to argue that, absent Mayorkas’s disembowelment of Customs and Border Protection's and Immigrant and Customs Enforcement's morale, purpose, and resources, Pascual-Reyes might not have been able to sneak back into our country to murder a mother and her son and torture her daughter. What is evident after a year and a half of Biden and Mayorkas’s dereliction of duty is that, not only is ICE not deporting "those who do not [in the opinion of Mayorkas] pose a threat," it is failing even to find and deport illegal immigrants like Pascual-Reyes and Fuentes "who are a threat to our national security, public safety, and border security."

But for the deliberate decision of Mayorkas not to secure our southern border, it is possible that one 10-year-old girl in Ohio would not have been raped and impregnated by her mother’s illegal immigrant boyfriend. It’s possible that 53 immigrants would not have been baked alive in a trailer. It’s possible that tens of thousands more crimes perpetrated by people illegally present in the country could have been avoided.

These are, to a greater or lesser extent, preventable crimes. "But for" the Biden administration’s open borders policy, all Americans would be safer.

This piece originally appeared in the Washington Examiner

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