January 4, 2024
By Tom Homan
In 2019, former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson remarked that 4,000 apprehensions on the southern border in one day would be considered a “crisis.”
Mr. Johnson was right.
Last month, 12,000 illegal immigrants were apprehended while trying to cross our southern border in a single day. That is three times as many as what Mr. Johnson considered a crisis just three years ago. The number of illegal immigrants crossing the border has exceeded what was previously unimaginable.
The situation at our border has devolved into a nonstop deluge of illegal aliens from all over the world, including a concerning rise in Chinese nationals.
The most rational solution to this ever-worsening crisis would be to give Immigration and Customs Enforcement as many resources as possible to deal with this influx of illegal immigrants.
But at a time when the U.S. needs more detention beds, more legal processing and more deportation, the Biden administration has closed several ICE centers and is on the verge of closing one of the largest in Adelanto, California, capable of holding roughly 2,000 illegal immigrants.
In the face of this unprecedented crisis, closing even one ICE detention center is unconscionable. But the administration knows what I know: The vast majority of these so-called asylum-seekers will never win their case because they don’t legally qualify for asylum under the statute and will be ordered removed.
They also know that under the Homeland Security Lifecycle Report, if they are not detained when they get that final order, most will not leave and go into hiding waiting for the next amnesty program.
Adelanto has been essentially unused for over three years due to an outdated COVID-19 court order that is still in effect. This court order, imposed by a Jimmy Carter-appointed judge, forbids ICE from sending new detainees to the center. As a result, fewer than 10 beds are being used at a site with space for 2,000 illegal immigrants.
The Biden administration is using this court-ordered emptiness as an excuse to close the Adelanto facility. The ultimate irony of this decision is that the administration is at the same time requesting funding for 46,500 detention beds in its new security package, a 12,000-bed increase from what is available.
Even if the White House were to receive funding for 46,500 beds, it has no intention of using that funding for detention beds. It will just reprogram that money to line the pockets of their nongovernmental organization friends and house them in hotel rooms. Therefore, any added allocation for detention beds has to be mandated for ICE detention beds.
The administration must keep Adelanto open and take action to lift Judge Terry Hatter’s outdated COVID-19 injunction, which is still in effect even though the federal government ended the COVID-19 federal emergency months ago.
GOP Rep. Jay Obernolte, who represents Adelanto, wrote a letter recently to the acting ICE director that noted that no other detention center is dealing with a similar court order.
“The Adelanto facility remains the only correctional facility with an absolute intake prohibition related to COVID-19 in the entire country,” Mr. Obernolte wrote. “To put this situation into perspective, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facility located roughly seven miles from the Adelanto facility is currently operating at normal capacity, as are multiple state prisons.”
Not only is closing Adelanto nonsensical from an immigration enforcement perspective, but Randy Erwin, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, wrote to Mr. Biden expressing his concern over the potential closing of Adelanto and how it would affect the livelihoods of nearly 350 union members.
“We were alarmed to learn earlier this week that the dramatic underutilization of the Adelanto ICE Processing Center, a matter that could and should have been resolved months ago, could now lead to the closure of the facility and the termination of our members who work there. This layoff would devastate our members, their families, and the Southern California communities where these proud union members work and live,” Mr. Erwin wrote.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and President Biden love to claim that they care about the rule of law and don’t support open borders. They can prove they still have some respect for America’s sovereignty by keeping Adelanto open, saving hundreds of jobs, and making use of its funded capacity.
Tom Homan is a senior fellow at the Immigration Reform Law Institute and the former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Also published at The Washington Times, January 4, 2023.
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