Immigration Unbound: After Title 42 Comes the Deluge

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on
LinkedIn
+

Hubwonk host Joe Selvaggi talks with Todd Bensman, senior fellow at the Center For Immigration Studies, about the conditions for aspiring immigrants and border security officials at the U.S.-Mexico border and the likely effects of the expiration of Title 42, a policy that had denied asylum claims during Covid-19.

Guest:

Todd Bensman is the Center For Immigration Studies’ Texas-based Senior National Security Fellow. He is the author of “Overrun: How Joe Biden Unleashed the Greatest Border Crisis in U.S. History” and “America’s Covert Border War: The Untold Story of the Nation’s Battle to Prevent Jihadist Infiltration.” Prior to joining CIS in August 2018, Bensman led homeland security intelligence efforts for nine years in the public sector. Bensman’s body of work with policy and intelligence operations is founded on more than 20 years of experience as an award-winning journalist covering national security topics, with particular focus on the Texas border. Bensman holds a master’s degree from the Naval Postgraduate School, Center for Homeland Defense and Security; his thesis was entitled “The Ultra-Marathoners of Human Smuggling: Defending Forward against Dark Networks that Can Transport Terrorists across American Land Borders.” He also holds a master’s degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, and an undergraduate degree in journalism from Northern Arizona University.

Get new episodes of Hubwonk in your inbox!

WATCH:

Please excuse typos.

Joe Selvaggi:

This is HubWonk. I’m Joe Selvaggi.

Joe Selvaggi:

Welcome to HubWonk, a podcast of Pioneer Institute, a think tank in Boston, more than a quarter of Americans, they’re either foreign born themselves, or we have parents who are born in another country. Yet this direct link to those who have chosen to immigrate to America lies a deep divide between those citizens who wish to severely limit new immigration, and those who actively resist any constraints on those seeking citizenship. This seemingly intractable disagreement at the national level has left federally elected officials with little opportunity for legislative compromise, and instead empowered them with the prerogatives to enforce their preferred immigration policy. To wit the Trump administration having run on a promised to severely restrict immigration through our southern border, used its authority while empower to reinforce border control and implement Title 42, A policy that denied for public health reasons, asylum claims from anyone crossing into the US during the Covid 19 pandemic.

Joe Selvaggi:

By contrast, the current Biden administration has allowed an eightfold increase in those crossing our border with Mexico, and is about to see Title 42 expire with no replacement. This abrupt shift in policy has resulted in an estimated three and a half million undocumented immigrants coming to the US in the last two years, and in the face of the restrictions of Title 42 expiring could result in an exponential increase in the years to come. Is this current and future acceptance of so many millions of new undocumented immigrants, a tacit approval of an open border policy by the American public and their elected representatives? Or is this extraordinary flow of people through our southern border, an attempt by politicians to quietly FL immigration law to satisfy the ideological preferences of their open border constituents? My guest today is Immigration expert Journalists and Senior National Security Fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies. Todd Bensman. Mr. Bensman has written extensively on the experiences on the front lines of the 2000 Mile US Mexico border, both from the perspective of those seeking to enter the US and from the perspectives of those enforcing the law. Mr. Besman will share with us his observations of changes in border enforcement from Trump to the first two years of the Biden administration, and will discuss the likely consequences of the imminent expiration of Title 42. When I return, I’ll be joined by Senior fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, Todd Bensman.

Joe Selvaggi:

Okay, we’re back. This is HubWonk. I’m Joe Selvaggi, and I’m now pleased to be joined by the Senior National Security Fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies. Todd Bensman, welcome to HubWonk. Todd, great to be here. Thanks for having me. Well, we’re happy to have you. This is a issue we’re gonna talk about immigration or more specifically what’s going on on our, our southern border right now. It’s top of mind in it’s in the, in the news now. And you’re an expert. You’ve been an expert for some time. You’ve worked on immigration analysis for some time. What I liked about your background is you’re not merely a reporter, both someone who rolls up his sleeves and embeds himself with, with communities that are now largely immigrating northward towards the United States. Tell us a little bit for the benefit of our listeners about your background in immigration studies.

Todd Bensman:

Yeah, so I’m a bit of a hybrid. This is kind of my third career. Birch career was as a journalist newspaper reporter classically trained. My undergraduate is in journalism, and my first master’s degree is in journalism. And I worked for 23 years as a reporter for, you know, big newspapers like the Dallas Morning News and Hearst all the way through to about 2009. My last three or four years was it based in San Antonio for Hearst Newspapers in 2006 to through 2009 during a, a really significant civil drug war in Mexico. And I was an investigative reporter, and that was the hottest story going in South Texas. So that’s when I really began my first border reporting. I did a numerous multi-part series of reporting reports about the drug war on both sides of the border you know, regular reports that were recognized by the National Press Club twice and some other organizations.

Todd Bensman:

But that was really my, those years were my first taste of the border and immigration and border security issues. And after that, in two, I was, and maybe partly because of that, I was recruited to join the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism Division in Austin, Texas. And they were valuing at that time, kind of unconventional backgrounds to bring people in to rebuild their intelligence division, huge state agency. And I worked for the Intelligence Division for the next 10 years. A lot of what I did was counter-terrorism work in what’s called a fusion center with all the federal agencies all under one roof. And my team did counter-terrorism primarily which had a significant nexus to the border. So then in 2018, the Center for Immigration Studies, I got my second master’s degree in Homeland Defense and Security from the Naval Postgraduate School, sponsored by deep department of Homeland Security. And my thesis was noticed. The Center for Immigration Studies recruited me in 2018, and I’ve been there for the last four years, kind of returning back to my roots of reporting again, in a way you know, you, you don’t forget that, like riding a bicycle. So I’m back down there on the border and spending a lot of time with the immigrants doing this. Well,

Joe Selvaggi:

That, that’s a quite an extensive background. You’ve looked at it from all different angles. Clearly it’s a, with an emphasis towards national security and the dangers of what can happen to Americans if border crossings or border activities go the wrong way. So but I also want to emphasize now you’re with the Center for immigration Studies. This is a largely a pro-immigration, or not more immigration, but better immigration, more coherent policy. Tell us a little bit about the Center for for Immigration Studies.

Todd Bensman:

Well, our, our branding is Pro-Immigrant Low Immigration. So that’s a pretty good I think a descriptor for our organization. We produce public education and reporting and studies and perspective and analysis on both legal and illegal immigrant immigration that is consumed mainly by policy makers in Washington inside the beltway, but also, you know, were, were nationally recognized and read, and the ideas to just communicate information about policy and how policy works to either increase or decrease immigration, legal, and illegal. I tend to focus more on the illegal part.

Joe Selvaggi:

Sure. Now, I, I don’t wanna, you know, we’re gonna stay away from the idea of whether we should have more immigrants or fewer immigrants and really focus on what we do have. We’re gonna sort of take a, a cold look at the reality of what’s going on. Sure. So, for the benefit of our listeners who, you know, we’re, we’re primarily a Boston based, new England based think tank. They’re unfamiliar with what it looks like on the border. We, we have no real idea what it’s like to be near the border with our neighbor to the South Mexico. Unlike those people in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California. We don’t know what’s going on. How many people either legally or illegally cross that border every day or year? What, what’s going on right now?

Todd Bensman:

Well, I think it helps to have some perspective, some historical perspective. And I’ll, I’ll just give you the perspective of former secretary of D H S J Johnson, who just a couple years ago retired. He was from the Obama administration, and he said that when he was d h s secretary, if the number of apprehensions at the border ever exceeded 1000 a day, that was an unacceptable crisis. That was a really significant event. A th he said I’d be in a bad mood, anything over a thousand a day. We then had the Trump administration who was probably in the neighborhood of a thousand to 1500 a day. There was a spike that went to, you know three or 4,000 a day. In 2019, he wrestled that down back down to, you know, 1,015 hundred a day.

Todd Bensman:

And then Title 42, which is the pushback, this is important, I’m gonna tell you because this is very significant as a policy measure. Because of the pandemic in March, 2020 there was a public health measure called Title 42 that allowed for border patrol to push back everybody. They caught back to Mexico and they were pushing back about 90% of everybody all the way up until the Biden administration came in. The Biden administration on the very first day opened up very significant exemptions in Title 42 for family units, unaccompanied minors, and pregnant women that set off a mass migration crisis of those categories, primarily of those categories, cuz they’re getting in word spreads. Hey, if you’re a family with a kid, you’re getting in. And we quickly went to 4,000 a day, 5,000 a day, 6,000 a day to where we are now, which is about 7,500 a day which would probably give Jay Johnson a heart attack <laugh> if he was still in in office. And then seven,

Joe Selvaggi:

Seven and a half times a level of a bad day in the past. Right. And largely, you said, this is, so to be clear for our listeners, title 42 was a, a sort of a covid measure pandemic measure saying, look we’ve got a pandemic on our hands. The last thing we need are people coming across with who knows what health condition. Let’s, let’s sort of slow this down until we get our handle on the pandemic, and then perhaps revisit it when we’re when we’re past it. We’re now, thankfully two and a half years we, we think we’re past it. But largely that was a health measure. What, what happened? You said turn back. I just wanna define the terms. When someone crossed during Title 42, where did they go when they were quote unquote turned back?

Todd Bensman:

So, border patrol typically would pick ’em up in the brush, put ’em on a transport vehicle, and drive ’em to the bridge to the nearest port of entry back to Mexico and say, head back, and they would be taken back to the Mexican side. So that’s pretty much what it looks like. It was pretty simple if you were over there, and I often was, you could stand by the bridge and just watch ’em march over, you know, large groups being marched back in nothing at all to dissuade or stop them from turning right around and trying again and again and again. Which is what happened. So then you had the numbers of apprehensions started to spike to about to two, about 200,000 a month. A lot of those were recidivous until we had about 1.7 million in the first year of the Biden administration, which is a US record, 1.7 7 million apprehensions. That’s

Joe Selvaggi:

The number apprehensions. So, okay, again, I wanna be specific where a hundred, 1.7 million people, then you say, caught up in a brush,

Todd Bensman:

They were caught

Joe Selvaggi:

And, and one, 1.7 million people were dumped back on the other side of the bridge, or what happened to those 1.7 people? 1.7 million people?

Todd Bensman:

So under the Trump administration, they were put, they were 42 in, we, in, in vernacular, we just call ’em 42. There were 42 in about 90% of everybody that they caught. There were some that the Mexicans just wouldn’t take. So 90%, the Biden administration on its first day reduced that to 60%. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative> of everybody. And then over time, they’ve reduced that to about 35, 40%. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. So 70% of everybody that they catch are now paroled into the country. They’re just simply released into the United States 30 to 40% back to Mexico, where they could keep trying and trying. It gets complicated. I’m not gonna lie to you because on a, in addition to, I’m, I’m gonna just say that altogether in the two last two years, the Biden administration has pushed back two point people, 2.5 million times under Title 42. It was a speed bump. It was a significant deterrence unless you were a family group or an unaccompanied minor. Those people got right in and paroled straight into the interior of the country within a day or two. The rest had to keep trying and trying or decide to wait in Mexico until circumstances changed. So in addition to the 1.77 million in, in 2021 apprehensions that they laid hands on in 2022, it was 2.37 million no altogether app processed by border

Joe Selvaggi:

Process. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>,

Todd Bensman:

On top of that, there were at least 1 million got aways that just got through, and the border patrol never laid hands on them. That’s a very significant part of the crisis, because, because border patrol got very, very tied up and busy processing the family groups. So they weren’t on the line. There was nobody there. It was an undefended border. So more than a million people, if they got Title 42, they could go over here and cross and get into the country. So at least a million probably a million and a half by now have been got, they’re called gone aways. It’s official vernacular that got into the country. The Biden administration has probably paroled in and allowed into the country under a you know, noticed a report and parole and all these other things that they came up with another two and a half million. So they’re probably three and a half new residents of the United States inside the country off that border in the last 24 months with Title 42, still kind of acting as a kind of a deterring, modulating force. Now,

Joe Selvaggi:

I, I want, before we go further, I just wanna so in the past two years, effectively since the changes brought on by the Biden administration, you say there’s a a million people who got across the board and nobody saw, and there’s roughly two and a half million that because of, let’s say, changes or exceptions to 42. Got in. So we’re looking at three and a half million people you said that got in, or they’re in. I wanna ask what happens to them, but just for our listeners to, to get a sense of that number, we’ve got about 650,000 Bostonians in the city of Boston. We’re looking at seven Bostons in two years in the country, really, without any official permission. Can I go that far and say, obviously the people came across were not, not apprehended, but those who were apprehended, and then as you say, paroled in, there’s still not any legal status. They’re just here because they, they came, right. So, do I have those facts right? Do I have about the, the scale,

Todd Bensman:

Right? Yeah, you do. I mean, another way to look at that is, you know, I mean, the populations the size of Los Angeles and Chicago combined are in the country now. Huge. I mean, we, the United States has never experienced anything like this, and that’s with Title 42 in place. The, it’s beyond anything in the American experience that the highest number that has ever been registered cro apprehended apprehensions at the border was in TW 2000, and that was about 1.6 million apprehensions. In a typical year, there might be 300, 400, 500,000 apprehensions at the border, not 2.4 million to give you a si a a sense of the scale of this thing. And then in two years in a row and a third year, we’ve just started the third year of the administration, and it really looks like it’s about to, you know, go on steroids here, because Title 42 is going to end very shortly. Maybe by the time this this thing airs, it’ll be over. And the intelligence community is estimating that the daily apprehensions will rise to anywhere from 12,000 a day to 18,000 a day. We’re looking at potentially 540,000 a month that it will be pouring over the border because everybody who reaches the border now will be allowed into the country and in some form or another with very few actually ever removed or deported. And that’s, that’s where we’re, we’re about to head right now.

Joe Selvaggi:

So I want to, so again, for the benefit of our listeners, many of whom I might include myself in that list who are sympathetic to the plight of migrants or immigrants what they’re leaving behind is a absolute dreadful, you know, crushing poverty. One can’t fault them for wanting a better life for themselves and for their children and their future. So I have no animus towards those people who want to immigrate, nevertheless we’re Americans and, and in those border towns, when we’re talking about millions of people crossing the border, what is the effect? You’re, I believe in Texas now. What is the effect in Texas or Arizona or New Mexico with, you know, I’m sure they’re somewhat familiar with this phenomena. They’ve lived in Texas. They, it is always been next to Mexico, so they, they know what they’re dealing with. The scale of this must be completely disruptive. It must be impossible to to carry on normal public health or transportation or education. What’s going on there?

Todd Bensman:

I mean, you have to see it to believe it. It, it’s, it’s, I mean, I’ve been covering the border for a long time. Border patrol agents down there who they do this for a living. Nobody has ever seen anything like this. It is just pandemonium in town, after town, after town within probably about a hundred mile, anything within a hundred miles of the Texas border. You know, car chases every day, two, three times a day, crazy crashes tractor trailer pullovers at bailouts, everybody running in every direction. Police chases. You have places like El Paso right now that are just so overwhelmed that there are just thousands of immigrants sleeping in the streets. And I think El Paso just declared an emergency. It was like that, an Eagle pass. It was like that in Yuma, Arizona.

Todd Bensman:

It’s been like that in Rio Grande Valley. It moves, it shape shifts. It depends on what’s happening at any one time with policy, but it, it is it’s worth noting that though, that the, the actual border communities are transit zones. They’re eventually gonna, nobody’s staying there. They’re all finding ways by plane, bus you know, taxi friends, whatever, to be transported to cities across America. So those you know, three and a half million people are in cities across America. They’re everywhere. They don’t stay on the border. They’re leaving the border, so as soon as they possibly can. And the way that looks is that there are these operations in every border community where nonprofit organizations are receiving handoffs from the border patrol after processing seven days a week all day long, and charter buses pull up, fill with immigrants, and then drive to some city in the interior.

Todd Bensman:

And that’s happening all along the border from Tijuana all the way to Manam Morris constant flow of, you know, planes and buses into the interior. It’s an importation operation, a conveyor belt system. And I’ve watched it. I’ve, I’ve been in a number of these, and I, I’m, you can just see Border Patrol drives up, drops ’em at a nonprofit spot. The nonprofit people help them arrange for their purchase as a bus tickets, and there’s a Greyhound right there on site. So Border Patrol pulls up here, they process in, and then they’re filling these buses over here, and it’s just like going like that all day, every day for two years straight.

Joe Selvaggi:

So, so that’s your reality. We, we’ve had recently, it made headlines where I think it was governor DeSantis was kind enough to send us 48 immigrants, only 48, not 48,000 or four, 4.8 million, but rather 48 flew them to Martha’s Vineyard. And it was quite, quite newsworthy. It’s a whole different scale and they were promptly shuffled off the island 48 hours later. But where are, you know, taking an entirely parochial Boston, new England perspective, are those buses headed to Boston, or do, do we see the conveyor belt? Does it reach us?

Todd Bensman:

Yes. the immigrants have been pouring into Massachusetts for two years straight. I interview ’em all the time. Where you going, going, I’m going to Boston, I’m going to Massachusetts. They’ve been going, they’ve been pouring into Boston for two years, straight, nonstop, thousands and thousands and thousands. You just never hear about it. For whatever reason, your media isn’t covering it. Maybe they are covering it, and I’m not aware of it, but it did strike me as humorous in a way that all the hubub about the 48 in Martha’s Vineyard, because your state’s been getting thousands and thousands of immigrants for years already right off the border, fresh off the border. And so have all those states. New York has been getting just tens of thousands, Washington, dc It didn’t take governors to in Texas and Florida to fill those places up. They were already being filled for like a year and a half straight month after month after month.

Joe Selvaggi:

So you know, for our, the benefit of our listeners, I think what we’re talking about how states manage this, this challenge, this crisis, whatever we wanna label it but really immigration is a federal issue, right? We decide at the federal level how who comes across our borders. You mentioned the Biden administration, and of course, those who follow politics knows the both the, of course, the executive branch, but also both houses of Congress have been in the control of the same party for last two years. So in theory, if one had the political will to do something about this, to address sort of the chaos and the disorganized tragedy, which is both the plight of the immigrants and those communities who received the immigrants, why isn’t there anything being done constructively to create order out of this insanity?

Todd Bensman:

Okay, so, I mean, at this point, I need to just explain a couple things. So the, the Biden administration has done something that no other administration has ever done before, which is to take a position that it will not enforce congressional statutes. They just simply decided not to do it. And what that means is you know, the statutes are very clear. When you cross the border illegally, you are to be detained in a detention center. You can claim asylum, you can, you know, whatever you’re going, you’re gonna claim, but you have to be detained beside a detention facility for the duration of your, until we decide whether you’re gonna be released or deported. But if you’re not released, then you are to be deported. The Biden administration decided before they even entered office, that they are not going, going to do detentions or deportations anymore.

Todd Bensman:

So and this was an affirmative decision that they have stated over and over and over again. We don’t detain and we don’t deport it. It’s cruel and inhumane to enforce our laws that are on the books. So instead what they’re doing is they have created these ad hoc alternative policies. For example, the use of something called humanitarian parole, which is supposed to be, it’s in the I n A, the Immigration and Naturalization Act, but it’s supposed to be case by case individualized. If you cross illegally and you are wounded, you’ve got 10 bullets in you we’re gonna let you in. And or if you need, you know, some kind of dire situation or whatever it is on a case by case basis. But the administration decided to apply humanitarian parole to hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people all at once.

Todd Bensman:

There’s litigation about it and all the rest, but it’s slow moving. But a lot of credible legal minds have questioned their use of humanitarian parole, the other, in order to avoid, they just wanna avoid detention. They don’t do detention anymore or, or removal. The other thing that they did was they started handing out alternatives to detention, which is to say that you can report in on an honor system to ICE in a year or so in the city of your choice. So they’re like, it’s kind of this honor system for millions of people. So you cross in, you get humanitarian parole and a document that says, in Chicago or Boston, sometime in the next year, you should report in to ice and then do whatever you’re gonna do to figure out. So when word of this spread to Latin America and Africa, and the rest of the world, of course, you know, they came and they never stopped coming in.

Todd Bensman:

The largest numbers we’ve ever seen, and in the greatest diversity of nationalities we’ve ever seen those policies are the things that caused this. Normally democratic administrations like Obama, bill Clinton, they followed the law. You were detained and you would be deported if you didn’t, if you didn’t have a grounds to be in the country. That’s, none of that’s happening. The administration from the very first day eliminated deportations from the interior. I’m not talking about Title 42, I’m talking about just interior deportations. The numbers are down 80% across the board of every possible, even criminal aliens. They stop deporting criminals that they find. I wanna put

Joe Selvaggi:

A Todd, I wanna put a point on this. I think many people hear our conversation and they think, okay, so we’re not deporting people. It’s a problem. You know you know, but these immigrants, you know, they’re sympathetic characters. I, I understand why they want to come. It’s as if the the wave of new immigrants merely just happened, as if there had been some sort of hurricane or earthquake or, you know, some phenomena that happened in south or Central America that forced these people who would otherwise have stayed home north. But rather what you’re saying is the actual policy is sort of a, like a beacon to the world saying, this is the time to come. If you’re interested in coming to the United States, come now because you will not be turned it away. So, in a sense, the policies create, they don’t merely fail to address the problem. They actually create the problem. You know, that’s essentially what you’re saying,

Todd Bensman:

Right? And, you know, I don’t wanna underplay the fact that the rest of the world is a lot of, it’s a terrible place. You, you, you, I mean, you can understand why somebody wants to leave their, their homeland. Those are root, they, they’re so-called root causes. They exist, root causes exist. There are these push factors in their home countries. The, the, but those don’t really change. Those are steady state. They certainly don’t change quickly not quickly enough to explain mass rushes and mass retreats of people. The only thing that explains mass rushes and mass retreats is whether the door is open or closed at the US border. That’s the toggle. That’s the main toggle. And liberals and conservatives always argue about, which is the toggle, the push factors. Is that the thing? But I, I would, I would agree with liberals that there are push factors and root causes.

Todd Bensman:

I’ve been to a lot of these countries and you know, I, I can certainly sympathize with anybody who would wanna leave Nicaragua or Venezuela right now. But, you know, there are 750 million people in the world who live in extreme poverty, and another couple billion that live in just bad poverty. And so, you know, governments have to have controls over who comes in. I mean, it’s a basic sovereignty issue, a sovereign, right? So when the Biden administration stopped deporting, deporting people from the interior, they tried to complete moratorium at first, it got thrown out, and then they did some other things that ended deportation, and at the same time started accepting exemptions from Title 42 of these family units and unaccompanied minors. It set off this, you know, listen, I never met an immigrant who didn’t have a modern cell phone fully connected to the internet. They’re in social media, and they send selfies home when they’re on the buses at the, the, the nonprofits getting let in with their papers. And everybody downstream is like, wow, we’re getting in. All we gotta do is bring the kids. We’re in. So,

Joe Selvaggi:

So you characterize, so, you know, again, we’re, we’re talking about a pretty dire situation now, but you characterize Title 42, which is again top of mind for everyone. It’s front page in the news. It, it existed as a, as a sort of a a relic epidemic of covid. Now it’s, it’s sort of again, there were a couple attorneys generals from red states so appealing saying, you know, to lift it now would be disruptive. So there’s a temporary stay, I suppose, from the Supreme Court. We don’t wanna get into all the legal aspects, but it’s, it’s not long for this world, right? It’s, it’s imminent. It’s not, if it’s, as you say, if it’s lifted before this is aired, okay? But it may be a week after that what will happen when it is lifted, which you know, I hope you’ll agree, or I think you’ll agree. It’s imminent and inevitable what will happen,

Todd Bensman:

Right? So the intelligence community, as I mentioned is predicting anywhere from 12,000 to 18,000 a day. I haven’t seen for how long that’s supposed to last, but, but the administration’s response plan to this is not to block and stop and deter this. It never has been. They openly say that their policy is to facilitate the safe, orderly, humane, and legal pathway into the United States to take advantage of our legal systems. What they, so that, that’s a, that’s a, an unprecedented departure from anything that has ever happened in the United States with its border. That is like a, a idea of that is just like, would ne could never, you know, have happened before before this. And what is at the root of it is when they say legal systems and legal pathways to our legal systems, they’re talking about the asylum law.

Todd Bensman:

The asylum law is set up in such a way that, that economic migrants from a poor country like Honduras all they have to do is touch the border and say, I plan to, at some point apply for asylum on the basis of political persecution. But, but there is no, they don’t have to prove it. They just have to say it. And the United States just has to believe it up to 10%. If it, if it’s, there’s a 10% probability that they think that you’re telling the truth, you get into the country under parole or to report in, in a year or two and, and maybe apply later. It doesn’t matter that the majority of them will never even do that. And that the, the, the greater super majority will be turned down eventually for asylum, but it doesn’t matter because the endgame is to just get in and disappear and live and work illegally.

Todd Bensman:

That’s the end goal, cuz they’re economic immigrants not really fleeing political persecution. Title 42 blocked ti asylum. You couldn’t claim asylum. And the, the, the whole thing about Title 42 is that it, when it goes away, it then makes that asylum process available to a hundred percent of everybody who reaches it. That’s why they’re pooled up. They’re like, we’re gonna get in now. All we have to do is just say it, and this administration will let us in. Previously, you stood a pretty good chance of getting prosecuted for illegal entry and detained for a long, long time and then eventually deported from the detention centers. You’re not, the law says you have to be detained the entire time, but the backlog for asylum is six years. So if you apply for asylum, you get in this backlog, you qualify for work authorization, for public benefits and welfare for years before you get declined, and then you just disappear illegally and say, come and get me. Well, this administration is never gonna come and get you because we don’t do deportation anymore.

Joe Selvaggi:

Indeed, I, I think, again, we we’re getting running long on time. Yeah. Sorry. Some, some of our listeners are gonna say, look you know, I believe in open borders and others say, I I believe in closed borders. But what I’d say is, I think the importance of the show is let’s have that debate. Let’s have a conversation, but we ought to do it with open eyes. It does seem that even though this seems to me to be a massive story again, we, we trained our attention on 48 people who came to Martha’s Vineyard and are seem to be blind to three and a half million people who are, you know, in places that are less conspicuous. I, I’d love to have the public debate, but it seems that nobody’s following it. You, you mentioned the fact that this is not really congressional legislative policy, but essentially the administration flouting the, the existing laws essentially refusing to enforce them. You know, what, what can our listeners do? I, I, I, you know, I, I’m gonna blend this with the, if you were king for a day, how would a, a person who clearly works for an immigration studies think tank, fix this? In other words, how can we, in a sense, get a sense of a, a handle on the people coming to our country, hopefully do it in a, in a more responsible managed way? What, what ought to be done as citizens and as as in leadership?

Todd Bensman:

Well, in, in leadership you know, there’s always, always this talk about, oh, we, the system’s broken. We need immigration reform, comprehensive immigration reform. I would dispute that I think our immigration system is just fine. For the most part. There are some tweaks that need to, the need to be made, but, but really the administration’s Republican or Democrat they differ only to the extent to which they enforce the laws that are on the books, the laws on the books are very deterring. There’s prosecution, there’s detention, long-term detention they’re, there’re it is deterring, and then there’s deportation. Normally, those are the things that control a border. There, the, the things that would have to change is the asylum law is set up so that it doesn’t matter if you crossed 10 other countries that were perfectly safe and that if you even had asylum in three of ’em already we, we don’t check and we don’t care that our asylum law says that, that if you show up at our border except for with Canada, we do have a, a, a deal with Canada.

Todd Bensman:

But on the southern border, it doesn’t matter if you already had asylum in, in one or two or three other countries, we let you in to claim asylum here that needs to be fixed. The day that that gets fixed is the day that all mass migration crises end. And then there’s another thing called the Flores settlement. I don’t want to grind out too much time, but there is a a cap on the amount of time that we are allowed to detain families to 21 days. And under that has been abused in, in a huge way. The Flores settlement needs to get fixed. The asylum law needs to be tweaked, and we’re good. And, and the administration needs to be compelled, maybe by the Supreme Court to just abide by statutes that are on the books

Joe Selvaggi:

Indeed. So again we are a kind, compassionate country, one of historically, many, many immigrants. We’re all sort of got here one way or the other. So we don’t wanna sound as if we’re either anti-immigrant or anti asylum. Certainly those people who are escaping political persecution we, we want to hold the torch up for them. We don’t want to, in a sense, allow for people to exploit that kindness by flouting or, or exploiting weaknesses or va vagueries in our, in our asylum laws. So those are, those are good prescriptions for success. I hope someone listening will will take them to heart. I appreciate your time today, Todd. You’ve you, you’ve got a rich knowledge of the information. Where, where can our listeners read more about your work or the Center for Immigration Studies?

Todd Bensman:

Sure. Well, all, all of my work for the Center for Immigration Studies is there cis.org. And we have a lot of great writers and commentators also and a lot of good reporting there about this issue. You can also see my, my website at toddbensman.com. And I have a, a book that is forthcoming in February about this particular crisis, since it’s the largest thing that anything that anybody’s ever seen in us,history. Uit’s all about the first two years,of this crisis, how it started. It’s called Overrun. It’ll be at bookstores,February 23rd.

Joe Selvaggi:

Okay. All right. Well, good. Now we’ve got some another action item. Stay tuned. Pre-Order your book perhaps if possible, <laugh>. So again, thank you for being my guest on hub Won. You’ve been, you’ve been a terrific fund of information and our listeners, I’m sure appreciate

Todd Bensman:

It. Thanks for having me.

Joe Selvaggi:

This has been another episode of Hub Wonk. If you enjoyed today’s episode, there are several ways to support Hubwonk and Pioneer Institute. It’d be easier for you and better for us if you subscribe to HubWonk on your iTunes pod catcher. If you’d like to make it easier for others to find us, you’re welcome to offer a five star rating or a favorable review. We’re always grateful. If you want to share Hub Wonk with friends, if you have ideas or comments or suggestions for me about Future Hub Wonk episodes, you’re welcome to email me at hubwonk pioneer institute.org. Please join me next week for a new episode of HubWonk.

Recent Episodes

Residents Rescuing Refugees: Welcoming Ukrainians Yearning To Breathe Free

/
Host Joe Selvaggi talks with George Mason Law Professor, author, and immigration expert Ilya Somin about the newly announced Welcome Corps program which empowers Americans to sponsor and help relocate refugees from Ukraine and other places of war and persecution.

Sinking U.S. Shipping: Ineffective Law Creates Waves for American Economy

Host Joe Selvaggi talks with Cato Institute research fellow Colin Grabow about the failure of the Jones Act, a law that sought to protect the U.S. shipbuilding and merchant marine capacity. They examine its downstream effects on inflation, supply chain fragility, and energy access that directly affect every American.

Shopping Hospital Value: Price Transparency Mandate Brings Market Forces to Medicine

Hubwonk host Joe Selvaggi talks with Pioneer Institute's senior healthcare fellow Barbara Anthony about her recently released paper, Massachusetts Hospitals: Uneven Compliance with New Federal Price Transparency Law, and how price transparency can empower consumers to shop for better value and encourage hospitals to offer more competitive costs.

Immigration Unbound: After Title 42 Comes the Deluge

Hubwonk host Joe Selvaggi talks with Todd Bensman, senior fellow at the Center For Immigration Studies, about the conditions for aspiring immigrants and border security officials at the U.S.-Mexico border and the likely effects of the expiration of Title 42, a policy that had denied asylum claims during Covid-19.

Eight Billion Minds: Unsustainable Population Bomb or Infinite Resource?

Hubwonk host Joe Selvaggi talks with Cato Scholar and author Marian Tupy about his new book, Superabundance: The Story of Population Growth, Innovation, and Human Flourishing on an Infinitely Bountiful Planet, focusing on the contrast in policy perspectives between those who see humans consumers of finite resources and those who recognize the unlimited potential of human ingenuity.

MBTA Safety Overhaul: Retooling Teams For Trustworthy Transit

/
This week on Hubwonk, host Joe Selvaggi talks with transit advocate and expert Chris Dempsey about ways in which structural change in the MBTA's safety oversight can be reformed to improve performance, engender greater trust amongst the region’s riders, and reduce transportation congestion in our growing economy.

Climate Death Toll: Will A Warming World Overwhelm Human Resiliency?

This week on Hubwonk, host Joe Selvaggi talks with climate scientist and Johns Hopkins lecturer Dr. Patrick Brown about his recent paper, Human Deaths from Hot and Cold Temperatures and Implications for Climate Change, on the factors that contribute to high climate-related mortality, and those that lead to better resiliency.

Legal Property Theft: Legal Defense Against Town Taxman Taking Neediests’ Deeds

This week on Hubwonk, host Joe Selvaggi talks with President of PioneerLegal and retired federal judge, Hon. Frank J. Bailey, about PioneelLegal’s work to advocate for the U.S. constitutional prohibition against the practice of municipalities taking an the entire value of a property to settle a relatively small tax debt, a procedure legal in Massachusetts and thirteen other states.