Director of Policy Studies at the Center for Immigration Studies Jessica Vaughan Weighs in on the Seriousness of America’s Southern Border Surge

Mar 13, 2021


Live from Music Row Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed Center for Immigration Studies Director of Policy Studies Jessica Vaughan to the newsmakers line to weigh in on the Biden administration’s unofficial policy that has encouraged surge at the southern border and the urgency to fix it.

Leahy: We are joined now by our good friend Jessica Vaughn who is the director of Policy Studies at the Center for Immigration Studies. Jessica, welcome.

Vaughan: Thank you good to be with you!

Leahy: I forced myself to listen to part of the talk or whatever that event was last night with President Joe Biden speaking. I didn’t hear him say anything about the border surge or his terrible immigration policy. Did I miss that?

Vaughan: No. I was not able to tune in but I have not seen any reports of anything mentioned although there are you know, I mean, obviously, this border crisis is certainly raging and threatening to become a disaster. And there are angles to the pandemic issue as well. But no, they want to distract from the border crisis. They want Americans to look at something else and not see the disaster that is brewing down there.

Leahy: And I think you’ve described it right at least from what I’ve been reading about. You’ve been with the center for immigration studies since 1992. You know your stuff. It looks to me like it is an utter disaster down there on the border. Tell us a little bit about the elements of that disaster.

Vaughan: What I was watching on my computer last night during the president’s speech were videos now circulating of streams of people coming across with the aid of smugglers in the areas of the border where there is no wall. And that is a huge problem. And the number of people coming has exploded. It started growing in November. We started getting reports from Central America.

And one of my colleagues went down to Central America and observed that the caravans forming because people expected that the Biden administration was going to reverse policies and allow people to come in again to stay indefinitely as long as they said that they feared return to their home country. That’s what Biden promised and that’s exactly what he’s done. And he’s also suspended enforcement in the interior of the country for all but a few of the worst criminal aliens.

And promising to push through a massive amnesty. All of these are a huge motivation for people to start to come now. And we saw the highest number in February that have tried to come in in one month, or I should say in the month of February in 10 years. This is getting much worse and it’s all because the policies have been reversed. When you promise people that they’re going to be able to come in, they’re going to come and who can blame them?

Leahy: Exactly.

Vaughan: And they say that the message that the president is sending is well, oh don’t come now. We’re going to make a way for you to come later. But the message they’re hearing from their friends and families who have tried this and succeeded and from the criminal smuggling organizations is now is the time because you’re going to get in. And that’s the truth.

Leahy: If you’re an American citizen, do you know and you want to I don’t know travel or do anything apparently now everybody needs to get tested for COVID-19 before they can move around the country is what I see developing. What kind of policy do they have for stopping people with COVID-19 from coming illegally into the country?

Vaughan: This is another area of inconsistency shall we say. The Biden administration says that they are testing new arrivals. That’s only partly true. They’re testing arrivals that they’re putting into the detention centers. And that is a lot of the families with kids who will stay there for a short period and some of the single adults that they’re catching. And they’ll test them before they release them.

These detention spaces are so overwhelmed and filled up with the record numbers of people coming they can’t detain everyone. So in many places, the border patrol is not turning them over to ICE. They’re simply releasing them into communities along the border it mostly in Texas and in Arizona. And saying well, it’s the responsibility of these communities to give tests that they think that’s appropriate. And some of the churches and NGOs are trying to do it. Once the border patrol releases somebody nobody has any control over them.

Leahy: They have no idea where they’re located. They have no idea where to go. So they’re bringing COVID-19 into the United States with illegal aliens.

Vaughan: One important thing to remember is our border patrol sources are saying that yeah, they’re catching a lot of people but they think about three are getting away for every one they catch. And obviously, those people are not tested or quarantined.

Leahy: Yeah, that exactly sounds more like the unofficial policy of the Biden Administration is let them all come in. Now Let me ask you this question. We got three years and 10 months and I don’t have two weeks left of this Biden-Harris administration at the federal level. It looks like they have a total open-door policy. I saw that in Texas governor Abbott sent down the National Guard. Is there a role for state governments in stopping this flood? or is there any hope to stop this flood of illegal immigration?

Vaughan: Well, absolutely. And what Governor Abbott has done is really smart. Texas has the resources and experienced law enforcement agencies that have dealt with these border crises before and know what to do. And that should be a big deterrent. I don’t think that’s going to happen in California and New Mexico. Possibly in Arizona.

But you know, the rest of America should be thanking Texas. But we can’t expect the state of Texas to do the federal government’s job. And in any event, the people who get through do not stay in Texas or in the border areas. They’re coming to communities all throughout the United States. And I think it’s incumbent on these communities and these state governments to release information about who is arriving, what they’re seeing, and what the impact and costs are for state and local communities.

And demand that the federal government deal with this at the federal level. I think when Democratic or more independent states, swing states or whatever, and purple and blue states start really complaining that’s the only way Biden and company are going to pay attention. Congress could do something about this.

State and local governments for example can refuse to accept large numbers of unaccompanied kids to be resettled. I think there are ways to push back. It’s going to take a lot of pushing to make the Biden administration respond. But when they feel it’s a political cost to this crisis that’s when they are going to act.

Listen to the full first hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.