Domestic Policy

Why President Biden Is the Worst Border Security President in the Last Two Decades

Understanding the Impact of His Bad Border Policies
Aug 22, 2022 By Will Hurd
Updated: Dec 27, 2023
Migrants Take Shelter Reuters
Migrants take shelter along the Del Rio International Bridge at sunset as they await to be processed after crossing the Rio Grande river into the U.S. from Ciudad Acuna in Del Rio, Texas, U.S. September 19, 2021. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

In mid-August of this year the Biden Administration passed a milestone they are not celebrating — 2 million encounters with individuals coming to this country illegally. This is almost double the previous record of 1,277,177 set last year and there is still a month and a half left in this fiscal year.  Since President Biden took office, more than 3 million people have been encountered/apprehended entering the U.S. illegally from over 150 countries, and this number doesn’t include “gotaways,” the term CBP uses to describe those who enter the U.S. illegally and evade capture.

Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) doesn’t report the number of gotaways publicly, but former and current Border Patrol agents who’ve spoken to a non-profit, non-partisan journalism platform called The Center Square estimate this number is easily more than one million since Biden took office.

Apprehensions and Returns – Key Border Security Metrics

To understand why these massive numbers constitute a crisis, we must have some understanding of the problem from previous administrations. Additionally, dealing with border security statistics is always tricky because there is so much information we don’t know, like the real number of gotaways, for example. Also, many administrations try to avoid the use of the word deportation, so they use terms like Title 42 expulsion, Title 8 action, returns and removals. While there are many statistics tracked by CBP, there are two numbers we know very well, apprehensions and returns.

  • Apprehensions. The physical control or temporary detainment of a person who is not lawfully in the U.S. is an apprehension. Someone entering into the country illegally may or may not result in an arrest.
  • Returns. The federal government uses two different terms for when it apprehends an unauthorized immigrant and expels him or her from the country. There are “removals,” which involve a formal court order. And then there are “returns,” which do not.

..more than 3 million people have been encountered/apprehended entering the U.S. illegally from over 150 countries…

Apprehensions are the known number of people that CBP has caught coming into the country illegally over a defined period of time. Returns are the number of people deported immediately for breaking the law. If someone who is apprehended is not immediately returned, then they are either detained or released into the United States for further immigration processing. Subtracting the number of returns from the number of apprehensions gives us a rough estimate of the number of unlawfully present people added to the population of the United States.

Dramatic Increase in Unlawfully Present People

It is a violation of the law to enter a country illegally. Entering a country via any other means than through a port of entry is by definition illegal. While some individuals are seeking asylum, the asylum process is being abused. Additionally, treating almost everyone as an asylum seeker is bad policy too. Using an overly liberal and broad definition of asylum began under the Trump Administration and has continued under the Biden Administration, leading to an increase in the number of people unlawfully present in the U.S.

The increase in the number of apprehensions shouldn’t be viewed as the Biden administration being better at apprehending people. It’s actually the opposite. More people are coming to the country illegally because they know the Biden administration won’t deport them. They’re rewarded for trying, so more try.

Yearly Average of Aprehensions

Based on an analysis of the last 22 years, President Bush was returning more people to their home country than Border Patrol was apprehending. During President Obama’s eight years in office, he was releasing into the U.S. the equivalent of the population of McAllen, Texas every year. Using the same analysis President Trump released the equivalent of the population of Louisville, Kentucky each year of his one term in office. However, President Biden has released the population of San Francisco, California in each of his two years as President.

Bottom Line

Since the second half of President Obama’s first term, the failed border security policies of the United States has led to an intake of 4.3 million people unlawfully present in the United States. This number is roughly equivalent to the population of the 27th most populous state in the union – Oregon. In order to get to a point where we can address issues like streamlining legal immigration, strengthening our immigration courts to properly and quickly handle real asylum seekers, or coordinating foreign aid to address root causes that are encouraging migration, we must get this open border crisis under control first.

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