MEHLMAN: Of Course It’s Political Theater, But It’s Working


Ira Mehlman Ira Mehlman is the media director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
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The chattering class and the ruling elites of deep blue cities and states are aghast that Texas Governor Greg Abbott is resorting to political publicity stunts to bring national attention to the migration crisis the Biden administration is inflicting on his state. In doing so, Abbott is giving these self-declared sanctuary jurisdictions a taste of the hardships imposed by Biden’s open borders policy and exposing their self-righteous hypocrisy. Abbott’s political theater has been so successful that Governors Doug Ducey of Arizona, Ron DeSantis of Florida, and even the Democratic mayor of El Paso have gotten into the act.

The busing and airlifting of migrants to sanctuary jurisdictions is nothing short of brilliant. It is priceless to listen to the mayor of New York City whine about the arrival of a few thousand migrants, whom the Biden administration waved into the country, stretching his city’s resources to the breaking point. Meanwhile, Texas copes with the arrival of that many migrants daily. Even better is witnessing the good folks in Martha’s Vineyard, where the average home is worth $1.325 million and sits empty most of the year, hastily ship 50 migrants (who crossed the border illegally in places like Del Rio, Texas, where the median home price is $97,000) off-island, claiming the island lacks the resources to care for them.

And, for a rousing encore, Abbott arranged for a busload of migrants to show up in front of Vice President Kamala Harris’ wrought-iron gated residence in Washington, D.C., five days after she announced on national television that our borders are secure. Bravo, governor! That alone should earn him consideration for a Tony Award.

Admittedly, political theater will not solve the illegal migration crisis that border states – and now the rest of the country – are dealing with. But political theater is really the only option beleaguered governors and mayors have. State and local officials have neither the resources nor the authority to control the border and cannot expel illegal migrants who make it across. Only the federal government can do that. Under the current administration, it is affirmatively refusing to exercise that authority. Instead, at the direction of Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, the Department of Homeland Security has released about 1.3 million illegal migrants and failed to apprehend a million more in just its first 18 months in charge. As of yet, the administration has shown no inclination to secure our borders and end the crisis.

While the political theater being directed by Governors Abbott, Ducey and DeSantis is playing to rave reviews from the American public, the response from the White House and its allies in Congress can only be described as farce, worthy of a Bialystock and Bloom production (only not nearly as funny). In addition to insisting “the border is secure,” despite 2.3 million illegal entries in this fiscal year, Vice President Harris made the absurd claim that this administration inherited “a broken immigration system, in particular, over the last four years before we came in, and it needs to be fixed.” In the last full fiscal year of the Trump administration, FY 2020, a little more than 400,000 illegal entries were recorded – or about as many illegal entries recorded in just two months under Harris’ watch in FY 2022. Maybe their repair job isn’t going so well.

Further highlighting the administration’s farcical border claims was the recent sworn testimony of its handpicked choice to lead the U.S. Border Patrol. Testifying under oath in a deposition to the Florida attorney general, Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz admitted that the out-of-control border crisis is a direct consequence of Biden administration policies. “Would you agree, Chief Ortiz, that the aliens who cite favorable immigration policy as a reason to come to the United States are perceiving what actually is happening in the United States?” he was asked. Ortiz replied with a simple, “Yes.”

As great as it’s been, the American public is hoping that the curtains will soon go down on the Abbott-Ducey-DeSantis production of “See How You Like It.” The sad reality is that in this production, nobody really comes away a winner. Ultimately, the decision about when the show gets canceled rests with Joe Biden and his willingness to restore control of the border.

Ira Mehlman is the media director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.