Numbers can be boring. So let’s look at Mr. Jimenez from Ecuador and Mr. Singh from India, alongside some numbers, to keep it interesting. Both want to come to the US, one for illegal work, one to take his family to New York on a vacation.
Mr. Jimenez will enter across the Southern Border near El Paso. In 2022 there were 330,037 legal immigrants to the US, or “new potential lawful permanent residents” (LPRs) entering the country. Meanwhile, more than 2.75 million “migrant encounters” occurred along the southwest border since Joe Biden took office. In the Rio Grande Valley sector alone, roughly 10,000 encounters with illegal immigrants occur every week.
Those numbers are expected to rise once Title 42, a Trump-era legal speedbump to immigration, expires, and more people can apply for asylum from inside the US without waiting first in Mexico. Mr. Jimenez will be an “illegal,” i.e., he will not have a US immigrant visa or green card. He’ll be in that clump of 2.75 million encounters. As a comparison, 1.3 million immigrants entered the US during the then-massive influx of immigrants in 1907.
“United States Border Patrol had lost operational control of our southern border. They can’t contain what they have now,” former acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement director Tom Homan said. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, of the 387,000 criminal aliens booked into local jails between June 1, 2011 and November 30, 2022, 267,000 were charged with more than 450,000 criminal offenses. These include more than 800 homicide charges, 54,000 assault charges and 54,000 drug charges.
The crime rates aren’t the only problem; the amount of money taxpayers spend for illegal immigrants to call Texas home averages approximately $850 million a year. Texans pay an average of $152 million a year to house illegal aliens, between $62 million and $90 million to include illegals in Texas’s Emergency Medicaid program, and up to $717 million for hospitals to provide uncompensated medical care.
Now to be fair, immigrants don’t create such a large cost for taxpayers because they’re lazy. Immigrants, legal or illegal, are just regular people trying to make it through the day. But their relatively low level of education means the kinds of jobs they can get don’t pay much. That, in a best case scenario, means they pay relatively little in taxes and use more in government services.
These costs exist because people in the Biden administration and those who support it believe aliens have a right to enter the US and that taking that right away with a wall or a visa regulation is not who we are. Joe Biden called his immigrant plan part of “securing our values as a nation of immigrants.” He’s claimed reducing immigration has been an “unrelenting assault on our values.” Immigration, says Biden, “is essential to who we are as a nation, our core values, and our aspirations for our future.”
The problem is Mr. Singh from India. Mr. Singh does not want to work in America, nor does he seek uncompensated medical care or Medicaid. He wants to visit New York on a tourist visa, eschewing the wet walk in at El Paso for a first class ticket landing him at JFK. He wants to do things the legal way.
Indians hoping to head to the US for vacations are now faced with huge delays in obtaining the interviews needed to be granted a visa. According to the State Department, the wait time in early December for one of these interviews at the American Embassy in New Delhi was 999 calendar days. In Hyderabad, it was likewise 999 days. In Mumbai, it’s 999 also. Nothing is higher than 999 days, so one suspects the real toll is in the thousands. A note warns, “These are estimates only and do not guarantee the availability of an appointment.” A non-sarcastic reminder states, “Please schedule a regular visa appointment well in advance.” Ironically, if Mr. Singh were to fly into Mexico City and seek a US visa interview there, he’d still face a 711-day wait. And by the way, the fee for that visa, should it eventually be issued, is a cool $160 per person.
According to the National Travel and Tourism Office, part of the US Department of Commerce, pre-Covid India was in the top ten of our country’s tourism market, and our fifth biggest spender. A United States Travel Association study estimates the US is potentially missing out on $1.6 billion in tourism revenue from Indian tourists alone in 2023. “To date, we have not seen the desire at the State Department to get this issue addressed,” the study concludes. Not so: the State Department says it has actually begun an Instagram campaign encouraging Indians to apply for even more visas with what they’re calling the “12 Days of Visas” program (based, yes, on a jaunty Christmas theme). The back-up plan is to train diplomats’ spouses and adult children already in-country to do the visas.
So Joe Biden, time to put up or shut up. If unfettered immigration is part of our national fabric, either deploy the resources needed to properly process visas in India and around the world, or plug the holes along the southern border to slow the rate of illegal immigrants greatly. Trying to have it both ways only leaves the United States looking like a hypocrite on immigration. And that’s not who we are, right?