Submitted by Mark Glennon for Wirepoints
“We know exactly how to shut it down. We need to make illegal entry illegal.”
-Border patrol agent speaking to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
If you think it’s exaggeration to call the situation at the Mexican border an invasion, read on. If you think it’s exaggeration to say that it’s a major and growing obstacle to containing COVID, keep going. But if you expect to read something about our political establishment taking it seriously, forget it.
Napoleon invaded Russia with 685,000 troops. North Korea invaded South Korea with 135,000. The Allies invaded Europe with 2 million to retake it from the Nazis, which is about what they had in France three months after D-Day.
But this year alone over 2 million illegal entries from Mexico are expected. Even CNN acknowledges that number, but the true number likely will be far, far more. That’s an invasion. It’s not that the entrants are vile in some way comparable to invaders who start wars – everybody, hopefully, feels compassion for them and understands why they come. But, numerically speaking, it’s an invasion.
What is the impact on efforts to contain COVID? Unquestionably, bigger causes are behind the current surge in COVID, the largest by far being the Delta variant that is far more contagious than the original virus. Nobody is claiming that the border crisis is the primary cause of the current spike.
But it’s absurd to claim that COVID isn’t another major reason why the border must be enforced. COVID at the border is a growing, important concern.
A stunning 18 percent of illegal migrants are estimated to be infected. “More than 18 percent of migrant families and 20 percent of unaccompanied minors who recently crossed the U.S. border tested positive for Covid on leaving Border Patrol custody” over a recent, reported NBC, citing a briefing document prepared for President Joe Biden.
That’s far worse than in the American population where less than one percent are infected at any given time. The 18% for illegal immigrants no doubt stems largely from much lower vaccination rates in the countries from which migrants are coming. Over half of Americans are now fully vaccinated. In Mexico, however, the rate is just 22%, and many immigrants come from countries like Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica and El Salvador where most vaccination rates are far lower
The Biden Administration is returning to Mexico many of the immigrants it apprehends, supposedly around 170,000 per month. The administration is keeping in place a Trump-era policy of turning some migrants away at the southern border without allowing them to claim asylum due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But huge numbers of the infected unquestionably are getting through undetected or being let in:
Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, are never apprehended and tested – the “got-aways,” as they are called. Nobody knows for sure how many of those there are, but “Border Patrol agents who do work on the border, according to the Center for Immigration Studies, “swear the got-away percentages are upwards of 90 percent or even more.” CNN said it’s about 1,500 per day, which is over half a million per year. But that was in May and illegal crossings have surged since then. The estimated 2 million illegal entries this year is based only on published number of “encounters” with border agents, now running over 200,000 per month. The press seems obsessed with that measure but it ignores the got-aways.
Officials in McAllen, Texas say more than 7,000 out of nearly 88,000 migrants released by border patrol in the city since February had tested positive for COVID-19, a positivity rate of more than 8%, according to CBS. But that rate has been increasing. Last week, 14.8% of migrants released from U.S. custody into the city of McAllen tested positive.
U.S Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat, said in a press release that the migrant surge has resulted in the temporary shutdown of Catholic Charities (the primary organization that assists new migrants); nearly 70 border agents testing positive for COVID-19 in the Rio Grande Valley sector; 17 border agents testing positive for COVID-19 in the Laredo sector; and 233 hospital beds occupied in the area.
A member of President Biden’s COVID-19 health equity task force, a virologist, essentially admitted that releasing immigrants is a key “tool “used to contain COVID. “Probably the most important thing that ICE can consider is release, because even with more efforts toward vaccination, being in a detention setting increases your risk of contracting COVID and it increases your risk of death,” he said.
Where are illegal immigrants who are allowed to stay sent?
Good question, but don’t expect anybody to have asked it in Illinois or most other places. We do know that former acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Mark Morgan says the Biden Administration has sent at least 40,000 infected immigrants to various cities in the interior of America. Forty thousand “at least,” he said. “That’s conservative.”
What’s clear is that Illinois appears to be doing everything it can think of, through legislation and administrative action, to bring illegal immigrants here. We listed its most recent measures here.
All this happens while Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas repeatedly tells the public that the border is under control, while saying the opposite in private. In a leaked tape of a meeting, he said, “if our borders are the first line of defense, we’re going to lose and this is unsustainable…. We can’t continue like this, our people in the field can’t continue and our system isn’t built for it.”
And he earlier said this: “We’re not saying, ‘Don’t come,’ we are saying ‘don’t come now.’” That was in March. Now they are coming.
It was in the recent, taped meeting that a border agent said what’s partially quoted above. “For those of us who have been around here long enough…we don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” he told Mayorkas. “We’ve had this happen before. We know exactly how to shut it down. We need to make illegal entry illegal.”
It’s long past time that the obvious questions be put to Governor JB Pritzker and other public officials who claim to be so dedicated to fighting COVID: Why aren’t you demanding that the border be enforced? Are infected immigrants being sent to Illinois? How many of Illinois’ COVID infections have been in illegal immigrants. Do you even know? Do you care?
The border must be enforced.