Year of the Illegal Alien: 3.2 Million Reasons 2023 Will Be Remembered With Infamy


January 18, 2024

By Matt O’Brien

On the Chinese Zodiac, 2023 was the year of the Rabbit; however, here in the United States, it should have been labeled the year of the illegal alien.

According to NBC News, in December, more than 300,000 illegal aliens crossed the United States border with Mexico. That number, roughly equal to the population of a mid-sized city like Pittsburgh, Newark, or St. Paul, breaks all existing records for immigration in a single month. And it caps off a year in which the Department of Homeland Security has encountered a record 3.2 million illegal aliens in the United States.

An astute observer may be asking, “How do we have any idea how many people have snuck into the United States, if they succeeded in not being caught?” That’s a valid question, and the answer demonstrates that the current border crisis is one deliberately manufactured by the Biden administration. We have a good idea of how many illegal aliens have recently entered the U.S. because, rather than attempting to capture and deport them, Team Biden has welcomed them in with open arms.

In the past, migration across the southern border followed an established pattern. Migrants made their way from their home country to Mexico, then slipped over the border surreptitiously. Most attempted to avoid capture. The few who voluntarily turned themselves in to the Border Patrol were either injured and in need of assistance or believed themselves to be eligible to apply for some kind of lawful status in the United States.

As a result, the Department of Homeland Security was traditionally forced to make an educated guess as to how many illegal aliens had sneaked into the United States. The Border Patrol would prepare annual approximations of unlawful entries by combining the actual number of individuals arrested for border violations with an estimated number of “gotaways” – foreigners who entered the United States unlawfully and then disappeared into the shadows.

The gotaway figure, in turn, included “known gotaways,” aliens who were observed entering the U.S. but successfully evaded arrested. But, it also included an educated guess as to the number of aliens who successfully evaded law enforcement detection altogether, referred to as “unknown gotaways.” As a result, the actual number of “gotaway” migrants was — and is — unknown.

The Immigration and Nationality Act is not a scheme to exclude people from the developing world, as the anti-borders contingent regularly argues.

However, the typical migration script has now been flipped because the Biden administration has decided it doesn’t like our immigration laws. The Immigration and Nationality Act requires any foreign national attempting to enter the United States to appear at an official port of entry and present a valid passport and visa. And crossing the border without the permission of the United States government is actually a misdemeanor crime known as “Improper Entry by Alien.” Despite these rules, the Biden administration has repeatedly and publicly signaled that any foreign national who shows up anywhere in the U.S. and says the magic word – “asylum” – will be allowed to stay.

The gotaway numbers have now become less significant because immigration violators are currently popping out of the woodwork and looking for a “stay in America free” pass. Immigration enforcement under Biden has become an à la carte affair, with only the most egregious alien rapists and murders being ordered deported. Virtually every other immigration violator is being hailed as an honored guest and being treated to a hotel room at taxpayer expense. 

And migrants are enthusiastically responding to Biden’s open invitation. Virtually every intending migrant has now come to believe that the president of the United States, and the government he oversees, have signed off on the complete abandonment of any meaningful immigration enforcement. They are crossing the border without authorization, en masse.

But instead of attempting to avoid capture, migrants are actually seeking out Border Patrol agents and surrendering to them. This may be a boon for more accurate record keeping, but it is an immigration policy nightmare in the making.

In essence, the U.S. government has become the world’s leading facilitator of alien smuggling by encouraging migrants to unlawfully enter the U.S. in the hope that they will either be granted asylum (no matter how baseless the underlying claim) or benefit from another misguided program like the Obama administration’s illegal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Between 7 million and 9 million illegal aliens – including at least 169 who are on the FBI’s terrorist watchlist – have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border since Joe Biden took office.

We have no idea who most of these individuals are, and very few have been subjected to any kind of meaningful background checks. It is an absolute certainty that a certain percentage of these new arrivals will be criminals, terrorists and foreign spies.

The Immigration and Nationality Act is not a scheme to exclude people from the developing world, as the anti-borders contingent regularly argues. Rather, it is a set of safeguards intended to ensure that migrants do not pose a threat to the public safety and national security of the United States. Ignoring those safeguards may be the undoing of this great nation.

Undoubtedly, as we march forward into 2024, the migrant caravans will continue, anti-borders politicians will persist in advocating for amnesty, and the demographic shift being caused by unchecked mass migration will continue unabated. However, because it was the year when America completely abandoned any policing of its borders, 2023 should be remembered as “The Year of the Illegal Alien.”

Matt O’Brien is the director investigations at the Immigration Reform Law Institute and the co-host of IRLI’s podcast “No Border, No Country.” Immediately prior to working for IRLI he served as an immigration judge. He has nearly 30 years of experience in immigration law and policy, having held numerous positions within the Department of Homeland Security.

Also published at The Messenger, January 18, 2024.

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