Somebody’s lying, but who?
The Biden administration suggested this week that the 15,000 Haitian migrants under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, were being “swiftly” deported. But on Tuesday, two U.S. officials told the Associated Press that Haitians had been released into the interior of the U.S. on a “very, very large scale” with “notices to appear at an immigration office within 60 days” (which means we may never see some of them again).
When asked about it on Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki passed the buck and said to “ask the Department of Homeland Security.” But the department has declined to give those numbers. DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas twice this week refused to provide Congress with even a “ballpark” estimate on how many undocumented immigrants have been released into the U.S. this year. Either nobody in the administration knows the answer or they aren’t willing to say.
Finally, on Thursday, the DHS announced that 1,400 migrants had been sent back to Haiti, 3,206 had been moved to other locations and are in U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody, and that fewer than 5,000 migrants in the Del Rio area. The only problem? If you add those numbers together you get 9,606—5,394 less than the estimated 15,000 Haitians who were under the Del Rio bridge. As Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked Psaki, “where’s everybody else?”
The delayed response and mixed messaging might be partly due to the fact that the Biden administration would probably have preferred to keep the details quiet for understandable political reasons. If Biden appears too dovish on the border, it will invite Republican criticism and play poorly with the general public. On the other hand, the progressive base in the Democratic Party is already outraged over the mistreatment of Haitians at the hands of Border Patrol agents on horseback. On Thursday, a Special Envoy for Haiti resigned, citing the U.S.’s “inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees.”
Joe Biden is being forced to choose between pleasing the public or pleasing his progressive base, in some ways mirroring the civil war currently playing out over his legislative agenda. Trying to thread the needle, Biden has to insist his policies work for all sides, even as all sides are nearing their boiling point. A president who likes to declare he’s delivering “straight talk” keeps talking out of both sides of his mouth. To try and get away with that, he has to withhold basic information. But how long can that last?
This is where the plot thickens. Even as Sec. Mayorkas was evasive when it came to delivering details about Haitian migrants, he was, however, willing to reveal another (possibly more) troubling statistic this week: out of 60,000 Afghan nationals evacuated during the withdrawal, a mere 16% are U.S. citizens or Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders.
A generous interpretation of this news would be to say that America rescued countless Afghans from the Taliban. But a less charitable interpretation might be to point out that we left behind hundreds of American citizens and thousands of Afghan interpreters—and instead rescued tens of thousands of military-aged young Afghan men who may or may not be fully vetted.
You might recall that the Biden administration kept bragging about how many “people” they were able to evacuate. It is now clear that this wording was not accidental.
Neither was the timing. Imagine if, during the time that the public was focused on the Afghanistan debacle, it had been revealed that 84% of the people we were rescuing were neither citizens or SIV holders.
That might have been devastating to Biden, who was already on his heels, which is probably why Mayorkas is providing this information weeks after the media has moved on from the Afghanistan story—just as he is now withholding information about the Haitian migrant story, as the media focuses on the current Biden disaster.
Aside from the obvious fact that these two developments will likely result in more immigrants coming to America, two related themes have evolved here.
First, Biden’s incompetent administration keeps failing to deliver on its promises. Biden said “diplomacy is back,” but French President Emmanuel Macron might beg to differ. He said the “over the horizon” technology would stop terrorism without “military boots on the ground,” but innocent children were killed in his botched drone strike. He swore that inflation was “transitory,” even as it continues. He promised “independence” from the virus, but here we are two and a half months later and COVID-19 is still wreaking havoc. He insisted the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul was not inevitable. He vowed to evacuate all Americans. He claimed the border crisis was “cyclical.” I could go on.
Second, Biden’s administration, not unlike the last one, puts more emphasis on spinning or burying bad news than it does on generating good news. This administration focuses on message control, while hoping that someone else will handle the details. The bad news is that nobody else is competently managing the logistics. And while kicking the can down the road can postpone paying the bills, to mix metaphors, it’s unwise to assume that buying more time will allow you to fix the fundamental problem. When the bills come due, you have new fires to put out.
People have a way of revealing themselves, eventually. It took the better part of a year to realize that the Biden administration was concealing some serious flaws (internal divisions, lack of competence, and a reliance on messaging) Biden himself was (mostly) able to hide this during the campaign.
But the chickens have come home to roost for the Biden administration. They are not who we thought—who we hoped—they were.
(Editor’s note: This story had been updayed to reflect that while there were claims the Border Patrol agents whipped migrants with horse reins or ropes, an agency investigation has found no one was struck. However, the investigation found that agents used inappropriate force and language, and one agent admitted “twirling these split reins as a distancing tactic.”)