In this week’s episode of Parsing Immigration Policy, Todd Bensman, the Center’s senior national security fellow, joins us live from Juarez, Mexico. Bensman takes us into La Linea Cartel territory, where he is investigating the smuggling of dangerous criminals into the United States.

Reporting from the Mexican side of the border, opposite El Paso, Bensman offers a firsthand account of migrant activity from the area where just two weeks ago hundreds of migrants pushed past Texas law enforcement in a daring charge to reach the Border Patrol, which they know will quickly process and release them. Other migrants – especially on the west side of Juarez, opposite Democratic-run New Mexico – are “runners”, illegal aliens who do not turn themselves in because of criminal histories or warrants.

The starting point of any conversation about immigration should be the numbers. This week’s episode of the Center for Immigration Studies podcast highlights a recent report co-authored by Steven Camarota, the Center’s director of research, which examines the number and share of the foreign-born in the United States.

The total foreign-born population, encompassing both legal and illegal immigrants, has soared to a record high of 51.4 million as of February 2024, marking a monumental increase of 6.4 million since President Biden assumed office. This increase has driven the foreign-born share to an unprecedented 15.5% of the population, eclipsing historical benchmarks like that seen in 1910 and reaching a level that the Census Bureau had estimated the country would not reach until 2039.
Camarota discusses the impact of policy decisions on immigration trends, noting, “This level of growth over such a short period of time was clearly caused by policy changes.” He emphasizes that “without new policies, there is no reason to believe there will be a slowdown in population growth in the future.”

In today’s episode of Parsing Immigration Policy, Elizabeth Jacobs, the Center’s Director of Regulatory Affairs and Policy, does a deep dive into her recent analysis of the new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) fee schedule, set to take effect on April 1, 2024.

Jacobs discusses how the 2024 fee rule is being leveraged to advance Biden’s policy objectives, ignoring the requirement that USCIS fees should be commensurate with the costs of processing specific applications.

Campaign season is in full swing as the 2024 presidential election looms less than eight months away. According to a recent Gallup poll, immigration is considered the biggest issue facing the country, with a majority of Americans expressing disapproval of the president’s handling of the issue.

In today’s episode of Parsing Immigration Policy, host Mark Krikorian, the Center’s executive director, dives into the politics of the immigration issue alongside journalist and author Mickey Kaus. As one of the earliest political bloggers and a democrat, Kaus brings a unique perspective to the conversation. The two men, each representing differing political viewpoints, engage in a thoughtful discussion on President Biden’s immigration policy choices.

Since September 2023, the Center for Immigration Studies has been on the forefront of reporting on the Biden administration direct-flight and parole program that has authorized the arrival of more than 320,000 inadmissible aliens through the CBP One app. The program allows migrants to take commercial passenger flights from foreign countries straight to their American cities of choice, without having to go to the southern land border. The program has largely operated under the radar until the Center filed a FOIA request, followed by litigation. The lawsuits continue – the Center is presently suing to have the administration release the names of the foreign airports and the receiving airports in the U.S.

Todd Bensman, the Center’s national security fellow and author of the reporting on the flights, joins host Mark Krikorian on this episode of Parsing Immigration Policy to discuss misconceptions surrounding the program, clarifying that the government authorizes the inadmissible aliens to enter the country, but does not buy the tickets, and that while it is secretive, in that the administration has tried to minimize public and congressional attention to it, it is not a secret program.

On this week’s episode of Parsing Immigration Policy, Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, joins us to discuss what states and other local jurisdictions can do to combat illegal immigration in wake of the Biden administration’s refusal to enforce immigration laws. Vaughan joins us from the Western States Sheriffs’ Association convention in Reno, Nev.

Vaughan provides suggestions to states and localities on policies and laws that can be implemented to remove illegal aliens from their jurisdictions and make their communities less attractive to illegal aliens. It’s important for these jurisdictions to take action now to push back on what is happening on the federal level, but it’s also important if we get a new administration that takes immigration enforcement seriously. As Vaughan explains, the federal government can’t properly enforce the immigration law without cooperation from state and local governments.

President Biden and former President Trump are both scheduled to visit Texas border towns today, just as polling reveals widespread dissatisfaction with the president’s handling of the border and immigration. With the failure of the Senate border bill and growing concern over the record number of border crossers, news reports suggest President Biden may announce executive actions that would stem the border crisis his policies created.

This week’s episode of Parsing Immigration Policy welcomes guest Andrew Arthur, the Center’s resident fellow in law and policy, who discusses one executive action that has been floated – barring aliens who enter illegally between ports of entry from being able to apply for asylum. Such a measure would replicate a previous regulation, the “Circumvention of Lawful Pathways” (CLAP) rule introduced in May 2023, that was designed not to lower border crossing numbers, but rather to “reduce wait times and crowds at U.S. ports of entry and allow for safe, orderly, and humane processing.” The rule faced legal challenges, notably in M.A. v. Mayorkas and East Bay Sanctuary Covenant v. Biden. A judge in the latter case, however, suggested that the administration may be talking tough to appease a public anxious for border action while not fighting vigorously to defend his own asylum rule.

A Center for Immigration Studies report and companion podcast episode, “Can U.S. Farm Workers be Replaced by Machines? Mechanizing Fruit and Vegetable Production,” provide historical context as well as analysis of current challenges and prospects for farm labor and mechanization. Both the report and the discussion explain the options available to replace U.S. farm workers – machines, H-2A guestworkers, and imports.

The report outlines how rising labor costs have historically driven the adoption of mechanization in agriculture. It traces the evolution of farm mechanization, from the end of the Bracero program in the 1960s to the present day, highlighting pivotal moments such as the enactment of the Immigration and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). IRCA supporters promised that legalized farm workers would demand higher wages, and that farm employers would have to raise wages and improve working conditions to retain legalized workers or hire H-2A guestworkers. But this did not happen, partly due to massive fraud.

On this week’s episode of Parsing Immigration Policy, we are joined by Ruy Teixeira, co-author with John Judis of last fall’s book, Where Have All the Democrats Gone?: The Soul of the Party in the Age of Extremes. Teixeira, currently a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, worked from 2003 to 2022 as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning public policy research and advocacy organization.

Teixeira explains that Democrats were not always proponents of the open-border agenda. The Democratic party used to see illegal immigration as a threat to low-wage workers and unions. In fact, in the 1980s, organized labor was the main group pushing for more hawkish immigration policies.

The Senate bill that would provide billions of dollars’ worth of funding to Ukraine in exchange for increased border security measures is unlikely to pass into law, but certain provisions from the bill may make their way into future border legislation. Andrew Arthur, the Center for Immigration Studies’ Resident Fellow in Law and Policy and former counsel for the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees, joins Parsing Immigration Policy to discuss the border bill with our host and executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, Mark Krikorian.

Arthur provides background on the bill and explains what changes would be implemented if it became law, including a 5,000 per-day cap on illegal entries, after which the border would be briefly closed to other migrants. In essence, Democratic efforts to promote this bill are little more than an attempt to limit the damage to President Biden’s political prospects resulting from increasing focus on the chaos at the border in an election year. The bill also includes provisions that have nothing to do with border security – including an increase in family- and employment-based green cards and automatic work permits for relatives of certain temporary workers.

This Week’s episode of the Parsing Immigration Podcast offers key findings from a European field-research trip by Todd Bensman, the Center’s national security fellow. Bensman was a visiting fellow at the Budapest-based Migration Research Institute, and examined borders in Hungary, Slovenia, Poland, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, and Greece.

Bensman’s research revealed a resurgence of illegal human traffic along the “Western Balkan Route”, reminiscent of the 2015-2016 crisis. The 380,000 migrant detections in Europe during 2023 are merely suggestive of much larger undetected flows indicated by the nearly one million asylum claims also filed during that year. The trip also revealed the intense political debates among the European Union’s 27 members as they consider how to handle the rising challenge. Unfortunately, these debates have received little attention in the United States, where a U.S. border crisis is now entering its fourth year featuring many similar dynamics and policy factors.

The Center for Immigration Studies hosted a panel discussion examining present asylum laws in the United States and in Europe, how they work, their impact on illegal immigration, and proposals for reform. Members of the newly formed International Network for Immigration Research (INIR), which includes like-minded think tanks in the U.S., Israel, Hungary, France, and the UK, discussed how their countries are navigating their current asylum crises and address the shared challenge of immigration control.

Participants examined whether the post-WWII asylum regime is an anachronism that needs to be re-thought and the proposed asylum reforms being discussed in the current negotiations between Republicans and Democrats. Listen to hear about the European Union Migration and Asylum Pact and what the U.S. can learn from this newly passed agreement.

As January marks Human Trafficking Prevention Month, the Center for Immigration Studies releases a second podcast interview focused on the subject. This week’s episode of Parsing Immigration Policy features Frank Russo, director of the CPAC Foundation’s Center for Combatting Human Trafficking, who joins our guest host, Jessica Vaughan, director of Policy Studies at the Center for Immigration Studies. The two experts discuss the challenges, initiatives, and policy considerations involved in combatting this issue.

Russo brings extensive experience in drafting and passing public safety and criminal justice legislation to his current position, which focuses on assisting states in updating their human trafficking laws. He emphasizes that even though 90 percent of crime in the U.S. is handled at the state and local level, there exists a significant gap in state law when it come to a comprehensive criminal and civil code to specifically address human trafficking. Russo explains that local jurisdictions often resort to charging traffickers with offenses like kidnapping or false imprisonment, lacking a targeted approach to combat human trafficking itself.

January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and with this episode of Parsing Immigration Policy, we seek to bring more awareness to the issue as it pertains to immigration. Our guest host this week is Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, and she is joined by Richard Mantei, special counsel and statewide prosecutor with the Florida Office of the Attorney General. Mantei recently served as legal advisor to a Florida grand jury that was convened to investigate the effects in Florida of current border policies, including the smuggling of unaccompanied alien children (UACs). In December, he spoke at the second annual Conference to Combat Human Trafficking, co-sponsored by the Center.

The grand jury investigation revealed that the Biden administration’s immigration policies – including catch-and-release at the border, the dismantling of interior enforcement, and especially, policies on handling UACs – have contributed significantly to incidents of smuggling, trafficking, and other crimes occurring in Florida. These crimes are linked to transnational criminal enterprises driven by enormous profits.

Today’s episode of Parsing Immigration Policy features experts from the Center for Immigration Studies discussing immigration highlights of 2023. Mark Krikorian, the Center’s executive director and host of the podcast, is joined by Director of Investigations Jon Feere and Senior National Security Fellow Todd Bensman.

Krikorian identifies the top story of the year as the record-breaking number of illegal aliens at the border, with 3.2 million encounters of inadmissible aliens, double the pre-Covid numbers from 2019. However, the open border, coupled with the lack of interior enforcement, led to other significant stories, including the trafficking of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) and a Texas-Biden war.

The border crisis has reached historic levels under the Biden administration, but one of the many roots of this crisis extends beyond the correct administration. This episode of Parsing Immigration Policy highlights the Flores settlement, an agreement that established requirements for the federal government’s detention of unaccompanied alien children (UACs) and requires their release “without unnecessary delay”. This week, we are joined by Hart Celler, the pseudonym of a Marine Corps veteran and longtime federal employee involved in immigration policy.

Celler walks listeners through the general history of Flores, from the start of the lawsuit in 1985 to the initial agreement in 1997 to today. A key development occurred under the Obama administration when Judge Dolly Gee re-interpreted the agreement to cover all alien children, not just those who arrive without a parent or legal guardian. Children who arrive with an adult are not generally released alone, so the U.S. government ends up releasing the adult and the child together. Celler refers to this as a “golden ticket” for entry into the U.S. for any illegal alien who brings a child. This practice encourages and rewards adults – some of whom are not even be the child’s parent – to bring children on the dangerous journey to the U.S.

The Center for Immigration Studies hosted a panel discussion December 11. The featured experts delved into the findings of the Center’s latest report, which revealed that the total foreign-born or immigrant population (legal and illegal) was nearly 50 million in October 2023 — a 4.5 million increase since President Biden took office and a new record high.

Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review, and Roy Beck, the former president of NumbersUSA, joined Steven Camarota, Center’s director of research and author of the new report. The panelists, who have all written extensively about the impact of immigration on the United States, will discuss what caused this rapid growth and the broad implications this has for American society, including the labor market, public coffers, politics, the environment, and culture.

This week’s episode of Parsing Immigration Policy brings a global perspective to the immigration debate with Nicolas Monti and Maxime Aymar, co-founders of L’Observatoire de l’immigration et de la démographie (OID), an immigration think tank based in Paris. The guests share information on immigration trends, policies, and public sentiment in France.

The French organization was founded three years ago in response to the public’s growing distrust in immigration policies in France. France, one of the first countries to experience massive levels of immigration, especially non-European immigration, has seen immigration become an especially polarizing political topic. It is at the forefront of French political debate and an important topic for all political parties; but, as Monti and Aymar explain, the conversation has primarily become an ideological conversation. OID fills a gap in French politics by providing non-partisan facts, research, and analysis of the immigration issue.

SummaryThis week’s episode of Parsing Immigration Policy delves into the issue of marriage fraud, an arrangement where individuals enter into marriages solely for the purpose of securing a green card. David North, a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, joins host and executive director of the Center, Mark Krikorian, to discuss the prevalence and need to curb fraudulent marriage-based green cards.

Marriage-based green cards, whether fraudulent or legitimate, make up a large portion of the legal immigration system in the U.S. One in six new legal immigrants in 2022 gained their status by marrying either a U.S. citizen or a green card holder. This visa category does not have a numerical cap, making it an attractive way to become a legal permanent resident with work authority and a path to citizenship.

On this week’s episode of Parsing Immigration Policy, we are joined by Colin Farnsworth, the chief FOIA counsel at the Center for Immigration Studies, to discuss a powerful tool that promotes transparency and accountability from federal agencies – the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Farnsworth notes that FOIA essentially “shines a light on government actions.”

The FOIA process empowers individuals outside the government to compel the disclosure of information that should be public. According to the Supreme Court of the United States, the purpose of FOIA “is to ensure an informed citizenry, vital to the functioning of a democratic society, needed to check against corruption and to hold governors accountable to the governed.”