“By any normal definition of the role of a Cabinet member, Secretary Mayorkas would have either resigned voluntarily or have had his resignation requested by the President.”
n May 7th, Senator Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) spoke with Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan at the McCain Institute’s Sedona Forum. The conversation touched on several topics pertinent to Senator Sinema’s priorities, but immigration became a primary focus, particularly given that the interview took place just days before May 11th, the date the Biden administration plans to lift Title 42, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) era policy that enabled the United States to expel approximately 2.8 million illegal entrants into the nation. Now, with the COVID-19 national emergency coming to a close, Title 42 will expire as well. So with public health no longer citable as a reason for turning away entrants at the Southern Border, many forecasts anticipate dramatically heightened levels of illegal border crossings in the wake of that policy’s expiration.
Brennan began the immigration portion of her conversation with Senator Sinema by describing the situation at the Southern Border as “the hemisphere’s worst refugee crisis” before asking the Senator about the status of potential legislation seeking to address the crisis: “Is it simply a political reality that you can’t get comprehensive reform done? You have to chip away at this piecemeal?”
In the course of her answer to Brennan’s questioning about immigration, Senator Sinema acknowledged the difficulty in achieving the requisite number of votes for any immigration-related legislation to pass: “I don’t think you can get agreement on a restroom break by next Thursday. The United States Senate is functioning at a fairly dysfunctional level right now.” Most notably, however, she singled out the Biden administration for her view that the executive branch has poorly prepared for the anticipated migrant surge, comments that would later draw criticism from Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. As Senator Sinema sees it, “The Biden administration had two years to prepare for this and did not do so. And our state is going to bear the brunt and migrants will be in crisis as soon as next week. It will be a humanitarian crisis because we are not prepared.”
She continued: “And what bothers me about that, Margaret, is that look, they don’t live in a border state. So they don’t know that the mayor of Gila Bend has to put migrants in his car and drive them to Phoenix because they are released in a town that has no bus stop. They don’t know what it’s like for migrants to sleep outside, in the farms in Yuma because there is nowhere for them to go. This is a crisis for our border communities and for migrants.”
Although Senator Sinema did not mention Secretary Mayorkas by name, as Secretary of Homeland Security, he oversees the United States Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, meaning that he—along with President Joe Biden—is the man arguably most responsible for the ongoing crisis at the border. In a congressional hearing in March that was boycotted by House Democrats, the Chief of the United States Border Patrol, Raul Ortiz, disagreed with previous statements by Secretary Mayorkas indicating that the United States has “operational control” of the border. When asked by Congressman Mark Green (R-Tenn.), “Does DHS have operational control of our entire border?,” Ortiz replied simply: “No sir.” And this is no wonder when more than 1.2 million illegal immigrants have entered the United States already during the first half of this fiscal year; endless photographic and video evidence confirms that column after column of people are currently camped out waiting to enter the United States when Title 42 expires; police stations as far from the border as Chicago are becoming rapidly overcrowded by migrants who have been pouring into the United States; and people are sleeping on sidewalks in El Paso, Texas.
By any normal definition of the role of a Cabinet member, Secretary Mayorkas would have either resigned voluntarily or have had his resignation requested by the President. This is the man who in his own May 7th discussion with Brennan sharply disagreed with Senator Sinema’s evaluation of the situation at the border and favorably described how the Biden administration tried numerous times to end Title 42 but was “stopped from doing so by the courts.” This effort to discontinue Title 42 was undertaken while knowing the entire time that to terminate it would result in countless people flooding into the United States, especially when more than six million illegal immigrants have entered the county since President Biden took office on January 20, 2021. However, as has become clear, President Biden and his deputies have no interest in securing the border, preserving the sovereignty of the United States, or protecting the economic and public safety interests of its current citizens.
Part of the reasoning surely lies with President Biden’s desire to do the opposite of whatever his predecessor did. This was surely the driving impetus behind many of the executive orders issued during the early days of his presidency. While it is hardly uncommon for a president to overturn some of his predecessor’s policies via executive order upon reaching the Oval Office (the perennial back-and-forth over the Mexico City Policy is one notable example), it is obvious that this administration’s immigration policy, one that has caused hardship for so many people, has been not been chosen because of its merits but rather to spite President Trump and his voters, both of whom prioritized border enforcement and the reasoning that “If you don’t have borders, then you don’t have a country.” And, second, there is the reality that should many of these entrants one day become American citizens, they will likely vote for Democrats, a point that is certainly not lost on the activist wing of the Democratic Party. (1)
And, mind you, the Democratic Party activists and aligned members of the press who have either celebrated aspects of the White House’s and Secretary Mayorakas’s approach to the border or have downplayed (or sidestepped covering) it knowing its overwhelming unpopularity with the American public are the very people who spent nearly the entirety of the Trump years bemoaning alleged foreign entanglements by either the Trump campaign or by President Donald Trump. Yet, today, through their preferred policy preferences (and despite the occasional statement by Vice President Kamala Harris or Secretary Mayoraks discouraging illegal entry), they, in practice, erase the very distinction between Americans and foreign nationals, between citizens and individuals who have illegally entered the United States of America.
Although no significant act of terrorism committed by a foreign national has taken place within the United States during Secretary Mayorkas’s tenure, this is far from sufficient reason to hail his secretaryship as a success. His handling of border security, which of course takes place in line with the administration’s overall abysmal record on this issue, overshadows any of his other accomplishments. And even if the proposals laid out in Secretary Mayorkas’s May 10th press conference announcing new efforts potentially to counteract the migrant surge are indeed implemented successfully, this far from nullifies allowing the situation to become as acute as it has in the first place. All the while, the American public is increasingly expressing frustration on this front; a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on May 9th confirmed that a mere 26% of Americans supported how the Biden administration is handling immigration.
As one reflects on the failures of Secretary Mayorkas during his tenure, his mind might reasonably turn to the shortcomings of other current Cabinet members, whether it be Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona’s unwillingness (or inability) to state what he believed a woman is, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg’s lack of effectiveness in resolving cascading crises in transportation-related domains, or Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin stating that he has “no regrets” over how the American withdrawal from Afghanistan was executed in August of 2021 despite the deaths of 13 American service members and the abandonment of approximate $7 billion in military equipment. However, if I were tasked with choosing the one Cabinet member whose failures might come closest to rivaling those of Secretary Mayorkas’s, it would have to be Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen’s.
Although Secretary Yellen has fortunately been drawing attention to the need for Congress and President Biden to reach an agreement regarding the debt ceiling without the same degree of partisan finger pointing as other players, this does not absolve her of responsibility for her assurances during the previous session of Congress that increased spending would not result in inflation. Finally, in May of 2022, Secretary Yellen acknowledged in an appearance on the CNN program The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer that she failed to foresee “the path that inflation would take.” This was a far cry from her dismissal of legitimate concerns prior to the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 that such a high degree of spending could increase inflation. Later, amid debates over the piece of landmark legislation once called “Build Back Better,” Secretary Yellen continued to push for the legislation with its full price tag, defending the proposed legislation from concerns about its potential effects on both inflation and the national debt.
Perhaps, worst of all, Secretary Yellen has argued in the past that increasing the United States’ national debt, including pushing the debt-to-GDP ratio farther above 100% can still be considered responsible. As Warren Buffett and others have noted, given that markets run inherently on confidence, an enormous national debt is not a problem until one day when it is; already, however, our current level of national debt has brought us into uncharted territory.
But on the inflation point alone, simply out of respect for all of the Americans whose lives have been made much more difficult by the surging prices, including on food and other everyday necessities, Secretary Yellen should resign and be replaced by someone, whether it be former Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers or someone else, who correctly anticipated that the actions undertaken by Democrats during the first portion of President Biden’s tenure would result in the levels of inflation we have now seen, as well as the likely consequences of the measures that had to be undertaken in order to rein it in. (2)
With all of this in mind, it did indeed appear from the outset that President Biden’s Cabinet selections were bound to fall short of the mark. This was betrayed by the fact that President Biden had made clear that he would significantly take into account a nominee’s immutable physical characteristics when making Cabinet nominations rather than basing such choices on merit alone. With that said, however, whether it be Secretary Austin, Secretary Yellen, or Secretary Mayorkas, each had an extensive resume and list of previous accomplishments that would have reasonably made one believe that his or her tenure would be successful. However, these individuals have fallen remarkably short in living up to their responsibilities and oaths. By any past or reasonable definition, each should be out of a job. Although there have been examples, at times, in previous administrations of members of a president’s Cabinet making significant missteps and still retaining their position, this cannot be viewed as a justification for individuals remaining in their roles today. The reality also remains that perhaps these members of the Cabinet did, in fact, wish to act differently; to this point, there is reason to believe, for instance, that Secretary Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken advised a different course of action when it came to the withdrawal from Afghanistan. One also suspects that Secretary Yellen, who holds a Ph.D. from Yale University, taught at Harvard University, the London School of Economics, University of California, Berkeley, and has been involved on-and-off with the Federal Reserve since 1977, before ultimately serving as the Chair of the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018, knew that legislation such as the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and the absurdly-named Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 would be inflationary, despite clearly stating otherwise. As such, one must consider the possibility that these individuals are being directed by a President or team of staffers that are either ignorant of the effects of their actions or pursue policies that—could it actually be—are intentionally destructive to preserving anything resembling the America that anyone over the age of 20 or so might remember or cherish. Regardless, it seems that the only solution available is to hold accountable at the next election this President and his party.
Erich J. Prince is editor-in-chief emeritus at Merion West.
- Additionally, even some Democratic critics of the White House’s immigration policy, such as New York City Mayor Eric Adams, are being snubbed by President Biden’s re-election team as a result of comments on this subject.
- Although some commentators and authors have sought to find “the silver linings of a recession,” I am very hesitant to cheer downturns that entail economic pain for so many. While I am sensitive to arguments made by those such as Elon Musk, who contend that recessions act almost like forest fires by eliminating unprofitable companies to make room for new ones or to favor firms that are more efficient or that provide a more necessary product, I still believe—like almost everyone—that recessions should, as much as is possible, be avoided. I am in consistent disagreement with those partisans who have hoped for recessions in order to disadvantage a rival party that might currently control a government or those such as Rick Smith, who have argued that sometimes economic conditions must be made significantly worse in order for people to seek different economic systems. Taken to its extreme, this thinking is in line with the murderous ideology of Vladimir Lenin, who “during the famine of 1891–92, when Tolstoy and Chekhov engaged in famine relief…advocated hoarding food to bring revolution closer (‘the worse, the better’).”