The BorderLine is a weekly Daily Signal feature examining everything from the unprecedented illegal immigration crisis at the border to immigration’s impact on cities and states throughout the land. We will also shed light on other critical border-related issues like human trafficking, drug smuggling, terrorism, and more.
Math was never my favorite subject, so it’s easy to imagine Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas as its teacher. As the person in charge of border enforcement, he has been working with some pretty big numbers since he came into office. The man-made crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border is so staggering that it’s easy to be overwhelmed, and so, for this week’s column, I’d like to highlight and explain some specific numbers.
3 million people, more or less, were “encountered” by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which includes the Border Patrol, illegally entering the U.S. in fiscal year 2023 (which ended Sept. 30). On Mayorkas’ watch, we have set the record for the highest number of yearly illegal alien encounters in U.S. history. If those caught in 2023 formed a new city, it would the third biggest in America, behind only New York and Los Angeles.
304,000 illegal aliens were encountered this August alone (the last month for which we have official government numbers). That’s the population of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
75% of August’s inadmissible aliens were freely let in by President Joe Biden’s Department of Homeland Security. Mayorkas has told the press and Congress many times that the border is not open. But if a door admits three of every four people who attempt to go through it, can we consider it closed? A philosophical question, perhaps. Maybe we can settle on “mostly open,” like the “mostly dead” Wesley in the movie “The Princess Bride” or the “mostly peaceful” riots of 2020.
425,000 unaccompanied alien children, as they are formally called, were let into the country between Biden taking office in January 2021 and today. That’s more kids than the Chicago school district, the third biggest in the country. To pay for their schooling alone, let’s take a low estimate of Washington, D.C., school costs at $25,000 per student per year: 425,000 new students at that rate would cost over $10.6 billion a year. Even at the lower Texas or California yearly rate per student, we’re talking over $6 billion. Auditors at OpenTheBooks.com estimated that the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the office charged with caring for unaccompanied alien children, spent $18,000 per child—nearly $3 billion—in fiscal year 2022, when “only” 150,000 were let in. That figure is on top of the previously mentioned costs for education.
407,983 convicted criminal aliens are currently on Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s “non-detained docket” of over 5 million cases. Put simply, these are foreign nationals who were illegally in the U.S. and convicted of crimes here. After serving their sentences, they were released but not deported and remain in our communities. This could be because their home countries refuse to take them—although presidents before Biden succeeded in twisting arms—but mainly, it’s because ICE deportation target numbers are pathetically low. An inspector general’s report from back in 2017—when they were deporting 10 times as many from a docket half as big—found that “ICE is almost certainly not deporting all the noncitizens who could be deported and will likely not be able to keep up with growing numbers.”
30,000 is the paltry number of the above convicted criminal aliens the Biden administration intends to deport in fiscal year 2023, according to its budget request to Congress, and again in fiscal year 2024. If ICE manages to do that and not a single new alien is convicted of a crime in these two years, the total of foreign criminals running loose in the U.S. would go down just over 10% per year, leaving the rest in the U.S. Feel safer?
116,000 inadmissible aliens were flown or bused to New York City, mostly by private charities using government grants, over the past 18 months. 60,000 are still living on the city’s welfare. The city is spending around $10 million per day to house them, more than $4.7 billion a year—an estimate that’s rising with every month. Mayor Eric Adams has threatened to cut spending on other services by 15% to pay for it. Something will have to give—like maybe the $9.3 billion New York wanted to spend in the next 10 years to improve its sewers, which back up into basements and the subway system during heavy storms, or the $10.6 billion planned for new jails to replace the infamous Rikers Island.
8,100 illegal aliens arrived in San Diego, California, in the past two weeks, mostly sent there by the Department of Homeland Security. San Diego declared a “humanitarian crisis,” so it can “petition the federal government for more federal assistance” for local charities to help with the influx. In city after city, we see the creation of a never-ending, vicious circle: They request more and more federal money to deal with a problem Mayorkas and Biden created and refuse to fix. What number of illegal aliens dumped in a city counts as an emergency? For San Diego and Chicago, 8,000. For Denver, 411. For Martha’s Vineyard, 50.
1,440 American children died from 2012 to 2017 because the emergency rooms that treated them were not prepared to handle pediatric cases. Only 14% of ERs are certified to treat children. According to The Wall Street Journal, “roughly $190,000 per state per year” in federal money goes to fix that. Meanwhile, in 2023, DHS gave over 1500 times that much—$290,000,000—to nongovernmental organizations for “temporary shelter and other eligible expenditures for migrants … released from DHS custody.” That money would have certified a lot more hospital ERs and saved countless children’s lives.
433 illegal aliens are currently housed in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. (Side note: When 400 young Chicagoans looted a store in his city, Mayor Brandon Johnson took offense at them being called a “mob”; so, to be sensitive, I call the airport-dwellers “noncitizens awaiting connecting flights.”)
151 illegal migrants on the national terrorism watchlist have been encountered by Customs and Border Protection in fiscal year 2023 through the end of August. That’s up from 98 last year, and only 15 in 2021. That 151 number only includes those who were caught; who knows how many got away?
21 is the number of suspected assault- and sexual battery-related incidents along the Washington and Old Dominion Trail outside Washington, D.C., for which a single illegal alien from Honduras—Juan Rodriguez Alfaro—was arrested last year. ICE will ask Fairfax County, Virginia, law enforcement to let it know when he is released, so ICE can deport him if a court so orders. However, as Fairfax County denied 98% of such ICE detainer requests in recent years, it’s more likely that he’ll be cut loose by local authorities who refuse to help ICE in keeping dangerous offenders off our streets—like this fellow Honduran who was convicted of child molestation in 2002, deported more than once, and finally arrested in Maryland last month.
The U.S. is letting in, or allowing to sneak in, thousands of men a week with unknown or undiscoverable pasts. Based on daily Customs and Border Protection arrests of violent offenders, we can be sure that some of them have previous convictions and gang affiliations.
It’s easy to believe the Biden administration’s propaganda, parroted by most of the national media, and imagine that all the above is inevitable or it’s not really happening at all. But it’s not inevitable and it is truly happening. The illegal alien wave being channeled into all 50 states is the result of conscious policies from our federal government. As states and cities feel the consequences in terms of budgets, crime, and reduced services, they will beg Biden to turn on the federal cash spigot and bail them out.
Congress must refuse and turn off the taps. Only by seeing the political price of their wrongheaded policy prescriptions will the open-borders absolutists at the White House be forced to rethink them.
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This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal