The Biden administration's historic crisis at the southern border has reached a fever pitch in Del Rio, TX. The most frustrating part is that it was entirely avoidable. Now thousands are suffering from the administration’s foolish push for open borders, and the consequences of this predictable disaster will surely be lasting and painful for America. On this episode, we talk about how Del Rio is just a snapshot of what's happen at the southern border, and what is likely to happen if this path continues. In addition, we talk about the Democrats’ attempt to use budget gimmicks in Congress to set millions of illegal immigrants on a pathway to citizenship.
Tim Doescher: From The Heritage Foundation, I'm Tim Doescher, and this is Heritage Explains. I want to read to you a few paragraphs from a recent op-ed published in The Hill by Joe Concha. Now, we don't normally do this on Explains, but with all that's going on, I figured we could use Joe's help to synthesize. And I quote, it was a horrible, no good, very bad Friday afternoon for President Biden as he headed out for a long weekend at the beach. The FDA rejected Biden's COVID-19 booster shots for all Americans. France recalled its ambassador to the US after team Biden snubbed our oldest ally in making a national security deal with United Kingdom and Australia. And a drone strike, the administration claimed took out a key ISIS-K planner, did no such thing. The Pentagon confirmed that 10 civilians were killed, including seven children, as the seasons change. It's safe to say Biden's first summer as president went about as well as it has for the Baltimore Orioles, currently about 45 games out of first in the American League East. End quote.
Doescher: Nice job, Joe. We really appreciate you tracking this. But if you'll allow me, I'd like to add a couple. Hit that music, John Pop. How about the rising inflation and skyrocketing prices for things like groceries and gas hitting Americans directly in the pocket book, or violent crime increasing in our cities, or the now infamous debacle in Afghanistan. I mean, at this point, the Orioles are, well, they're looking pretty good. But then this old familiar story with a new location and different characters came onto the scene.
Clip: An urgent crisis at the border. More than 10,000 men, women and children seeking asylum in Texas. Sources say most are from Haiti, which is facing a humanitarian crisis following of the recent earthquake and reeling from the assassination of its president. Conditions here worsening by the hour with limited access to food and water. U.S. border officials are overwhelmed.
Doescher: Here we are again at the Southern border with another surge of people trying to force their way into our nation illegally. And if you look at the media reports, it's a crisis. Our question, who is it a crisis for? This week, Mike Howell joins us. He's a senior advisor in government relations here at The Heritage Foundation and also a former official in the Department of Homeland Security during the Trump administration. On this episode, Mike tells us how this is not an isolated episode, yet a reflection of similar devastating situations happening all across the Southern border. We call it the Biden border crisis. In addition, Mike tells us the state of play here in Washington D.C., where Democrats in Congress are trying to cram through a massive wishlist of radical left wing policy goals, including immigration. Buckle up folks because Mike is going to explain after this. But first one of the things we try to do on Heritage Explains is provide a creative format to communicate a narrative that you won't hear in the mainstream media.
Doescher: It's just crucial to contrast our ideas with theirs, so people are informed and they're able to make up their own minds. Another way that we do this, other than Explains of course, is that we have a weekly email sent out every Monday called The Agenda. Every Monday morning, it covers the big issues in D.C. the media doesn't want you to know about. In this email, we don't just correct the narrative, we set it. So you can sign up for free by emailing us at [email protected], or you can scroll to the bottom of the Heritage Foundation website, heritage.org. You can look for the subscribe to email update section there at the bottom right hand of the page. Be in the know, subscribe today. Okay, Mike, here we go again. Haitian people have made a trek through Mexico and are now pouring across the U.S. border, Del Rio, Texas. We've seen surges from other areas in South and Central America, but now these are Haitian people, which they're in the middle of the ocean and somehow they're getting through Mexico, getting to America. Just start us off. Why the sudden surge from Haiti.
Mike Howell: Right. So as you mentioned earlier, they're coming from Mexico, they're not coming directly from Haiti. So these people have actually been here, this specific caravan in Mexico for quite some time. The Mexican authorities were holding them back. They were holding them back in an agreement with the Biden administration. When the Biden administration was essentially sending foreign aid to Mexico with the understanding that Mexican authorities would do a little bit to hold folks back. For one reason or another, this group was let go and that's what we're seeing at the border. A lot of these folks were in Mexico for years.
Doescher: Okay. So I guess my question is, how do you get from wherever you are in Mexico? I mean, my understanding was this is a pretty long trek to the U.S. border that they've made. So how is that, I guess, organized? How do you get just all of a sudden thousands and thousands of people in some, it almost looks like a parking lot under the bridge kind of a thing. How does that happen?
Howell: Right. Well, I think first, we got to understand none of this is organic. There is a well funded, well organized way for illegal aliens to get to the U.S. border. There are flights involved, there are pathways that are tread by the cartels and run by the cartels that require human smugglers and navigators. There are stash houses along the way. There are places where food and medical care is provided. This is a giant network that enables legal immigration to the United States. It's funded in part by United States money. When people donate to a lot of these non-governmental organizations that are frankly, their mission is to encourage and facilitate more migration to the US. And they don't just stop on the journey here. It's one illegal alien gets to the border, they're processed by our Homeland Security officials and in some cases, health and human services.
And they're handed over to the same NGOs who are either working with or the exact same ones who got them here in the first where they're then transported on these NGOs dime with tax deductible dollars or reimbursements from the federal government and then are cared for and housed by them. So it's a well funded machine.
Doescher: Yeah. It almost seems like it's a template. Get to Mexico, organize, make the trek, cross, claim whatever they're claiming to get into the US. My question is what is the difference now between the Trump administration and the Biden administration? I haven't seen any legislation passed. I haven't seen by the Biden administration, the Democrats in Congress. So is this basically just Biden giving dictates from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? I mean, is that how this is going right now?
Howell: Yeah. That's a huge part of it. So this well-funded organization that we talked about, they have their best salesman and spokesperson in Joe Biden. When Joe Biden was running for president, he put up the green light and said he would do exactly opposite of everything that Trump did. He called for a surge of asylum at the border. He directly asked for this. That is the biggest advertisement for now is the time to come and this is what the migrants themselves say. I'm sorry, illegal aliens. They're not migrants, they're illegal aliens. This is what they say when they're continuously interviewed for medias actually that was willing to talk to them or DHS officials. They're coming because Joe Biden said it was okay.
Doescher: Okay. Let me ask you this. Let me interrupt you because you said the A word, you said asylum. And I'm curious, how can a Haitian that came to Mexico, was there for a while then came to the border, how can they claim asylum? What grounds can they claim that under?
Howell: Right. The first question, the technical answer is they claim it just by asking for it. They say, I am claiming asylum. I am leaving where I'm coming from because I'm afraid to go back there, which gets them involved in the process. Then there's the actual what asylum really is, which they're not eligible for. Asylum is a specific claim for someone who has a well founded fear of persecution based on a set of categories to include race, religion, political persuasion, et cetera. It is for the first safe place that they're able to go. By very definition, these people left Haiti, the place they're claiming they need asylum from, were staying in Mexico, in many cases, for years, and then come to the US and claim asylum? It is obvious that they were in Mexico for years. The proof is in the pudding. Is Mexico just categorically a place that everyone can leave from and come to the US? Of course not. But this is the abuse of the asylum process. Over the last decade, it's skyrocketed thousands of percent.
Howell: Because the word is out. All you got to do is there's this loophole in our immigration law and these NGOs and immigration lawyers have coached these folks up. Everyone knows, just claim asylum and you're going to get one step into the process and we aren't going to remove you. The problem is we've reached a new normal. Apprehensions at the border are 1.3 million already this year, well on track for over 2 million. We're shattering records left and right. This month alone, it was about 200,000. I mean, August for those month's numbers. That is four times what it was the year before and we're just sitting at this 200,000 number and it's the new normal. So it's hard for people to be continuously shocked when it's happening over and over again. I mean, it's on purpose and the White House is just hoping people get used to this.
Doescher: Right. And it's funny because this just so happened that Fox catches or drone footage, whoever it was that got this footage of it. But my question is, is this just a snapshot of many other different similar scenes happening at different points of the border, or is this some isolated incident that's just a huge big deal that we're blowing out a proportion here?
Howell: Right. Great question. That was my first reaction when I saw the drone footage of under the bridge in Del Rio. This is happening all the time. In various locations, it just doesn't get the coverage. The border's long. It's hard to have media coverage over the whole thing, especially when you don't have the Department of Homeland Security that's transparent with the American people as to where the problems actually are. We've had thousands of migrants under bridges at many times before in this administration. The only thing that's really different here is that Fox had the great thought to get that drone out there and film it. And the footage is absolutely shocking and video of just the sheer scale of it. But I mean, there isn't a place to hold these people. All the facilities are massively overcrowded. It's not humanitarian at all. It's a terrible situation.
Doescher: Yeah. It's funny. We spent all this time talking about, hey, where are these people coming from? Why are they coming? It's organized, it's all this stuff. Then they're based together at the border there and is it dangerous, and is it safe? And COVID-19 numbers are spreading and yet we're missing the point, which is that border is not secure and we're way understaffed down there. We don't have a wall across the entire thing, and that's the real story here is that they're attracted. It's like a moth to a flame, a moth to a light. It will go to. It will flock to an area that it's attracted to until you fix it.
Howell: Yep. Absolutely. And I think people realize that it's not getting fixed. I mean, right now, the Democrats on Capitol Hill are pushing for legislation that will legalize every illegal alien essentially in the United States and give them the full suite of welfare benefits and most importantly for the Democrats, the right to vote. That's what this is all about. This is an electoral and demographic issue. They're seeking massively change the United States because they believe it helps them politically. So COVID, national security, national sovereignty, those are not issues for them.
Doescher: Yeah. Yeah. Well, let's move to Capitol hill right now because there are several issues going on right now that the left is not really helping the freedom cause, we'll just say that. And the big one that we're tracking here at Heritage is that somewhere around $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill that's being proposed currently, and this is basically a dream for the left. It's a dream for leftist politicians. I mean, we're talking many green new deals, higher educations, spending all this money we don't have on every single thing you could possibly think of. And I know that they actually tried to include the border in this, which would basically just open up the border through a reconciliation budget gimmick, and you got to clear this up for me because I think they were recently shot down by this kind of giving us a little bit of a victory. So just explain that a little bit.
Howell: Right. So there's this process called reconciliation in the Congress where you only in the Senate have to reach a 50 vote threshold as opposed to your usual 60 to overcome the filibuster. So all you need is all Democrats to vote to make reconciliation to law. Reconciliation is intended only as the name suggests for reconciling the budget.
Doescher: The budget.
Howell: Budgetary matters, making sure the money going out and going in matches up.
Doescher: It's not for things like border security and voting and things like that. That actually requires 60 or plus votes.
Howell: Right. It's not for policy change.
Doescher: I imagine they did that because they see, oh, if we can't have money to spend, we're going to be in big, big trouble kind of a thing. So we at least have to have a temporary gap. If we can't, can't get 60 votes, we can do 50 and bridge the gap kind of a thing.
Howell: Yeah, absolutely.
Doescher: Okay. That's why they do that.
Howell: It is their opening for their legislative agenda where they don't have to get any unity or bipartisanship or compromise. So essentially, it just became this giant lib wishlist. It is something that would make your president of the socialist at U Cal Berkeley 20 years ago blush. It is that far left. It is just out there. It is stuff written by the activist community and a lot of the donor base of the democratic party. That's why the chief component of it was this immigration thing where they wanted to basically make every legal alien in the United States eligible for welfare, to make them dependent on the growth of government and the democratic party as well as the right to vote. I mean, this would be the biggest change in our electoral makeup on party lines. It's equivalent to adding just a couple new Democrat only states to permanently flip to Senate, because what it would do in places like Texas, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina, it's an election gambit and that's why they were going for it.
Howell: Thankfully, the parliamentarian is a Senate official staffer. She's the one who gives the advisory opinion as to what can go on reconciliation. Is this policy or is this budget stuff? So she looked at this and she's by no means a rightie. She's a former immigration lawyer in the Department of Justice. Is working there because Schumer has her working there. It's not like they would hire me to go be the parliamentarian. And she looked at this and basically laughed the Democrats out of the room and said, "This clearly isn't anything to do with budget reconciliation. This is a massive policy gambit." And she said so. And so Democrats are rebuffed in their efforts, but they're going to come back to the drawing board and there's a couple things they could do. One, they could try to change the language and you do an alternate route to get there. I don't think that'll work because it doesn't matter how you get there, it matters that the end thing is policy and so the parliamentarians aren't going to change her mind on whether it's policy or not.
Howell: But they could also ignore her all together because she's non-binding. They could just vote to overrule her. They could fire her or, I mean, Joe Biden could go his own and try to do some sort of executive [inaudible 00:17:19]. I mean, you remember Barack Obama did this with DACA.
Doescher: We've probably at this point all seen the photos and the videos, this is border agents on horses confronting illegal border crossers. And the Biden administration just jumped all over this. They're launching an investigation. Human rights groups are up in arms over this. Secretary Mayorkas said, "I think it's important for people to know that's not who we are. That's not who the Biden-Harris Administration is and we're going to absolutely pursue that investigation and get to the bottom of what happened here." Mike, I read this and I think we know what happened here. We have thousands of people threatening our livelihood, our security, illegally crossing the border and vastly outnumbering the agents there trying to do their best to do their job and enforce border security.
Howell: There was some fake news that came out that the border patrol was using whips, which only a DC press that hasn't spent much time outside or the outdoors would confuse it. The reigns of the horse were what they thought was a whip. So there was no whip being used. Horses and law enforcements are used for all purposes, especially ride control. I'm sure you've been to a sporting game where outside they have horses to block human traffic and keep order. It elevates the police, obviously, a few feet above the crowd that they can see. Horses are used for border patrol because it's difficult terrain. You can't really have an ATV as usually going in into the water and out of the water and up rocks and then hills. The horses work better. And so this is just a normal of function in border patrol. I don't know who's surprised to know border patrol uses horses.
Howell: I think their main problem is that the border patrol is actually trying to stop people from coming into country and they saw, kind of working to a little extent, I'll even say I watched the video, they just walk right around the horses. It was a slight impediment. I don't know what people think border patrol should do besides just watch them walk through. It's just an opposition to border security all together.
Doescher: Let's look to the future here. Someone who listens to this podcast in two months, and we have. A lot of people, sometimes it takes them months to listen to these episodes. So I want to take this out of the present circumstance that's happening because as we mentioned, this is just another example of a bad border policy, Biden's border crisis. And it's not going to end anytime soon. I don't think. It'd be great, but I don't think it's going to. So someone who listens in two months, they're going to forget the image they see of the people gathered under the bridge in Del Rio, the issue's going to continue, but just talk to the people in two months down the road. What is the overarching theme for them to remember as maybe they don't have these images reminding them.
Howell: Right. It's that they're being effectively displaced in their own country. They have been put at a level of prioritization beneath the legal aliens breaking into their country. They are being told as we speak right now that there's this vaccine mandate despite whatever one thinks about the vaccine, yet our borders are being open to people who don't need to have vaccinations at all. This is just the trend. Illegal aliens are the Democrats', their avenue to permanent political control. I would say over time, it's been slow moving, but right now it's at rapid absolute pace. This is the new normal in the United States. It is meant. They're more valuable to the power brokers than our own citizens are. And so I think they should just recognize what's happening and speak up. There are things local eight officials can do on this run. And hopefully in whatever months your viewers are listening, we've seen governors actually take some concrete steps to deter and remove essentially people that shouldn't be in their states.
Doescher: Well, Mike, you've done it again. There's two people I want to thank. The first person is you and then the second person is John Pop, the engineer and editor on the other side of the glass who's going to clean up all the mess that we've just made here, which is going to be great. So thanks for being here.
Howell: Well, thank you to you both, and I love being with you.
Doescher: And that's it. That's all folks. This episode is over. It is in the can and we are so excited to do it again next week. But first I wanted to ask you, please go ahead and subscribe, go ahead and like us, wherever you listen. Share us with your friends and family. You can leave us a comment, yada yada yada yada, or you can email us at managingeditoratheritage.org. We'll see you next week.