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EDITORIAL: The administration’s ‘shell game’ on immigration

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has exposed sanctuary city virtue signaling by sending busloads of migrants who entered his state illegally to northern U.S. cities where the authorities vow not to cooperate with immigration authorities. As a result, he has earned the wrath of progressive activists and forced the liberal mayors of New York, Chicago and Denver to cry uncle.

Less publicized is a Biden administration program that also transports migrants throughout the country under the guise of easing pressure at the southern border.

The program allows would-be border crashers to use a Customs and Border Patrol app to make appointments with U.S. officials at land ports rather than enter the country illegally. Those who secure one of the limited appointments are allowed “to walk over to the American side at the land ports,” notes a report by the Center for Immigration Studies, “where U.S. Customs officials quickly ‘parole’ them in, allowing them to travel to a city of their choice in the nation’s interior.”

In addition, CIS reports, the program also allows potential immigrants to fly directly from foreign airports into the United States.

CIS has sued the administration in order to retrieve more details of the program. CBS News reported in February that more than 450,000 people had used this approach to enter the country. The center says the White House refuses to name the 43 U.S. cities that have hosted such flights or the cities of origin.

According to CBS News, “migrants who secure a CBP One appointment can apply for a work permit after being released from U.S. custody and do not have to satisfy the stricter asylum conditions of a Biden administration regulation.”

The White House couches the scheme as an effort to create a more orderly environment at the border. If, so why the secrecy? The program’s efficacy is also in question, as illegal migrant crossings reached a record high in December. Why wait for an appointment when you can cross the border, claim asylum and still be released into the country with a notice to appear in court years down the road?

Mark Morgan, former head of Customs and Border Protection, told the National Desk this week that it’s all about the administration’s “shell game” and covering up “bad political optics.” According to Todd Bensman, who authored the CIS report, “migrants flying directly into America go uncounted in the monthly Border Patrol tallies, unnoticed and without media inquiry, virtually all information about it almost hermetically sealed.”

President Joe Biden acknowledged a crisis at the border only when it became a political liability. The fact that he shirks responsibility for the mess reveals the chaos is hardly accidental.

This commentary initially appeared in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

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