Rick McKee cartoon

(Rick McKee cartoon / caglecartoons.com)

The daily Southwest border updates are generating nationwide concern except in Washington, D.C., where indifference reigns.

The latest Homeland Security Department report showed that in February more than 100,000 people were either apprehended by, or surrendered to, federal immigration officials on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Those totals — a 14-year high — include about 9,460 unaccompanied minors and more than 19,240 family units that reflect 62 percent and 38 percent increases, respectively, when compared to January’s statistics.

Nonetheless, President Joe Biden, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki refuse to even hint that the administration’s lax border policies need immediate reining in.

For his part, Biden has not spoken officially about what his administration calls a border challenge. But Psaki refused to call the border rush a crisis, instead labeling it “an enormous challenge.” Mayorkas, when asked a similar question about whether the border events represented a crisis, answered with a flat out “no.”

But Texas Gov. Greg Abbott didn’t hesitate to call the growing border chaos a crisis.

Abbott has a better perspective on the border influx than White House operatives, and he formed Operation Lone Star to deploy personnel from the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas National Guard to the border to secure the area. Abbott said Operation Lone Star’s goal is to “deny Mexican cartels and other smugglers the ability to move drugs and people into Texas.”

While the White House border rhetoric has focused almost exclusively on what it describes as the need for a humanitarian response to migration, it’s ignored the undeniable connection between open borders and human smuggling.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, is the top Republican on the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee and has overseen three separate committee investigations that date back over several administrations.

Portman’s 2016 investigation, “Protecting Unaccompanied Alien Children from Trafficking and Other Abuses,” uncovered that the Health and Human Services Department failed to adequately vet or to conduct in-depth background checks on the Ohio adults to whom it released minor children. The adults turned out to be human smugglers.

The 2018 report, “Oversight of the Care of Unaccompanied Minor Children,” came to similarly shocking and dangerous conclusions. HHS and DHS didn’t make the recommended post-2016 changes to trafficking crimes and to tracking whether released aliens report for their designated immigration court dates.

Biden appears either under-informed or indifferent to the growing human trafficking trade that his administration encourages.

After ending President Donald Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy, the latest federal government’s inducement for more unaccompanied children to rush the border is that HHS will pay for minors in its custody to be flown to their sponsor or family member’s home, often illegal immigrants, when, as is invariably the case, the receiving adult cannot pay.

Furthermore, Biden’s DHS submitted a notice to the Federal Register to withdraw an existing proposed rule that would require the receiving immigrant to sponsor and care for an arriving migrant once she or he becomes a lawful permanent resident.

While Biden and those close to him debate semantics, last week DHS reached its breaking point, and begged Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation officers to travel to the border ASAP to help with what the agency called “security operations” for the illegal immigrant children and families that have overwhelmed a swamped Border Patrol.

Michael Meade, acting director of ICE, pleaded for “immediate action.” Volunteers would include civilians with medical or legal experience as well as drivers and food servers.

Officials on the scene won’t speculate on when the emergency request for increased border assistance might be called off. The Biden administration is in full denial, and Biden refuses to travel to the border to evaluate conditions.

As the surge with its associated criminal and COVID-19 risks intensifies daily, an educated guess is that the existing calamitous circumstances will remain unchanged well into the peak summer months.

— Joe Guzzardi is an analyst and researcher with Progressives for Immigration Reform who now lives in Pittsburgh. He can be reached at jguzzardi@pfirdc.org, or follow him on Twitter: @joeguzzardi19. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

Joe Guzzardi is an Institute for Sound Public Policy analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. A California native who now lives in Pittsburgh, he can be reached at jguzzardi@ifspp.org. The opinions expressed are his own.