This morning, I watched on the news as a busload of mostly young, single men arrived at New York’s Port Authority bus terminal.
In the bizarro-world of the Biden administration’s COVID-19 policies, the staff from the nongovernmental organizations that greeted them all wore masks, yet not one of the arrivals did.
Maybe, like President Joe Biden, they were all fully vaccinated and double boosted, which means … never mind. (As they were entering New York City, a monkeypox vaccine might have been wise, too, since the Department of Health and Human Services just declared it a public health emergency.)
One nongovernmental organization staffer held up a sign saying “Welcome, asylum-seekers” in Spanish. That’s interesting, because according to the Department of Homeland Security reports, most among the busload are economic migrants looking for jobs, rather than fleeing persecution on the grounds of “race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion,” as required by U.S. law to qualify for asylum.
That’s OK, though, because they may not bother to file claims anyway. If they do, many will not complete the process. If they do that, many will be denied, but none will have to worry about being deported.
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas made it clear in a memo to his staff that merely being illegally present in the U.S. is no longer enough reason for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to, well, enforce immigration law.
The immigration courts are currently backlogged more than 1.7 million cases, so the 30 to 40 people on the bus could be here a decade before their cases are decided. By that time, they’ll have jobs, families, and other reasons to claim hardship if any attempt is made to enforce a final order of departure.
With these buses, big-city Democratic mayors a thousand miles or more from the border are getting a taste of what Republican Govs. Greg Abbott of Texas and Doug Ducey of Arizona have been living with for 18 months.
The first bus from Texas to Washington, D.C., arrived April 13, carrying illegal border-crossers who volunteered to go. So far, about 100 buses have arrived, carrying up to 4,000 people.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is in a hurry to foist them off on the federal taxpayer or send them elsewhere. She has requested 150 soldiers a day from the D.C. National Guard and wants the use of a federal site for SAMU, a nongovernmental organization with a million-dollar grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as a staging area to move illegal border-crossers inland.
The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project has shown that federal officials were negotiating with D.C. agencies as far back as April. Arriving buses are met at the food court of Washington’s Union Station by staff and volunteers from activist nongovernmental organizations.
The Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network (“led by black and brown femmes”) represents more than 20 local “social justice groups” whose members’ work is “bolstered by advocacy on a variety of economic, migration, LGBTQ+, and racial justice issues.”
One such group, Free Them All VA, demands freeing all migrants from detention. Another, Migrant Help DMV, is raising funds by selling “melt ICE” T-shirts to those who agree that the federal government should not enforce the immigration laws enacted by Congress.
Bowser thought that the migrants would be “largely asylum-seekers who are going to final destinations that are not Washington.” However, the charities that are meeting the arrivals estimate that about 15% of them want to stay in the D.C. area.
That’s roughly 600 more people—and rising—who will require housing, medical care, and other social programs someone else will have to pay for. It means another couple of hundred children for the failing, yet incredibly expensive (over $30,000 per pupil per year), Washington, D.C., school system to deal with, presumably requiring additional translators and staff.
D.C. Council member Brianne Nadeau has already asked Bowser to tap the city’s $500 million budget surplus. FEMA has already granted $150 million to the Emergency Food and Shelter Program set aside to fund organizations like SAMU, but Washington, D.C.’s congressional delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, wants even more money from Congress to bail Bowser out.
Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Eric Adams has been shocked to discover that “Pampers cost money,” as he said at a recent press conference.
To handle the 3,000 or so illegal border-crossers who have arrived in his city so far, Adams said, “We’re going to need food. Right now, we’re using our emergency funds, but we also got to deal with some medical issues. … These young people are going to have to find housing and education. We got to place them in schools. Translation services.”
Abbott and Ducey knew, as did all the Americans living along the southwest border.
Norton maintains that “the response lies with the federal government.” She’s right. Immigration is a federal matter. Biden and Mayorkas’ job is to secure the border, in accordance with U.S. law, in the interests of all Americans. (It would also be in the interests of migrants attempting to enter illegally, at least 728 of whom have died trying in the past year).
As Washington and New York will find out, the U.S. can’t be the social services provider for the entire world. At some point, Democrats are going to have to admit there is an upper limit to their generosity with (borrowed) tax dollars.
Adams is proud of the fact that “New York is one of the few states where you have right to shelter.” However, he does not seem to appreciate how far this news of “welcome to a land of milk and honey” has traveled.
Adams seems amazed to find that “it’s not only Latin America.”
“You are finding people from all over the globe that are coming here, coming to the borders, using the borders to come across,” he said.
Nongovernmental organizations helping the feds move migrants all over the country admit that many of them have no sponsor or family support. As they can’t work legally until they have authorization after filing an asylum application, they are on someone else’s dime.
One Washington, D.C., volunteer personally bought bus tickets for a couple all the way from Ghana who wanted to go to New York City. (I served in Ghana for three years as a State Department consular officer and know the country well. It’s a stable and democratic, if poor, country and one of the least likely places in Africa from which to see a credible asylum claim).
Volunteers also bought plane tickets for family of six to Florida and bought a young Venezuelan man a bus ride to New York City, where he “will likely have to stay in a homeless shelter” as he knows no one there.
All of this will continue, at public expense, indefinitely while Biden and Mayorkas are in charge.
Abbott tweeted: “D.C. is experiencing a fraction of the disastrous impact the border crisis has caused Texas. Mayor Bowser should stop attacking Texas for securing the border & demand Joe Biden do his job.”
Washingtonians and New Yorkers might learn to agree.
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal