How feds use charities to hide the true cost of the US border crisis
The border is on fire, and despite the Supreme Court issuing a temporary stay keeping Title 42 in place, the situation remains catastrophic.
It makes sense for Americans to blame President Biden for this; indeed, polling indicates a majority reject his open-border policies and hold him responsible for what they’re seeing every day from our southern border.
But the dirty little secret is that Biden could not have accomplished this on his own. His administration needed assistance — and slowly but surely, the light is starting to shine on who is providing it.
That help has come from a vast network of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), many of whom present themselves as charities or religiously affiliated nonprofits but who spend most of their money and time helping illegal immigrants settle in the United States.
Border Patrol simply does not have the capacity to hold the massive number of illegal immigrants crossing the border every day who would normally be transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The shocking images we saw last year at the beginning of the Biden border crisis — overcrowded holding facilities with men, women and children on top of one another — drove this point home beyond a doubt.
And under the Biden administration, DHS has reinstated catch-and-release, which forces Border Patrol to release these illegal immigrants into our communities, rather than transfer them to ICE.
Enter the NGOs, which shelter and feed the migrants, as well as purchasing plane and bus tickets and other resources. The NGOs are partly funded by private donations, but a good chunk of their money comes from American taxpayers — thus hiding the true cost of the border crisis behind “charities.”
DHS hasn’t been shy about it. In April, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas told Congress that the department was asking for more funding for this very purpose. Now, they’re back at the trough, asking for nearly $1 billion for various NGO programs.
Ultimately, these NGOs operate as the final link in a vast, transnational human-smuggling operation. At one end, the cartels promise that those who pay them to get to the border will be able to go wherever they want in the US. At the other end, the NGOs make it a reality. Naturally, this just enables and encourages more illegal immigration.
That’s where the investigation we launched at the Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project comes in. We’ve long known anecdotally that these NGOs are providing these services. Now we have proof that it’s happening at a national, previously unreported scale.
What we did was simple. We purchased commercially available, bulk cellphone data from mobile devices that pinged at more than 30 NGO facilities in border states in the month of January 2022. We then tracked where those cellphones ended up. Altogether, we collected data from around 30,000 unique and anonymized devices in multiple phases.
In one phase, we traced 22,000 devices that pinged at 20 border-state NGOs — they ended up scattered across the country, in 431 out of 435 congressional districts.
Then we captured 3,400 unique device pings on the premises of Catholic Charities’ facility in San Juan, Texas. Catholic Charities is a massive NGO, with operations around the country and the world.
Despite such a limited sample over just 30 days, the phones from this one location later pinged from all but two congressional districts.
The Biden border crisis has turned every town and state in this country into a border town and state. This investigation is the proof.
This was just a sample of 30,000 phones in one month. Imagine the data on the more than 5.5 million individuals who have illegally entered or been improperly admitted to our country since Biden and Mayorkas took office.
So, what next? The new GOP majority in the House of Representatives must immediately begin aggressive oversight of Biden, Mayorkas and the open-borders advocates who continue to perpetuate this border crisis — whether they be in government or outside it.
They should start by impeaching Secretary Mayorkas. For nearly a year, Heritage has called on Congress to do just that, and now Congress has a meaningful opportunity to demonstrate that there are consequences to opening our borders and undermining our sovereignty and security.
They must also defund DHS’s ability to continue the crisis. That means no more money for NGOs who conduct themselves in this way. American taxpayers should not be forced to pay for the mass resettlement of illegal immigrants simply to fulfill the radical left’s open-borders fantasy.
To do so, however, it’s critical that the lame-duck Congress refuse to pass a massive omnibus spending bill this week that would lock in the Biden-Schumer agenda until next fall. The outgoing Congress, including retiring or defeated members no longer accountable to voters, has no business passing legislation that sets policy for the new Congress.
A vote for the omnibus is a vote to continue the border crisis.
Time is running out. The Biden administration continues to conspire with the Swamp and a radical network of open-border advocates. It’s time to truly hold them accountable . . . before it’s too late.
Mark Morgan is the former acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection and a Heritage Foundation visiting fellow. Mike Howell is director of Heritage’s Oversight Project and former oversight counsel with the Department of Homeland Security.