Has any U.S. president done more to expand the influence, revenue and corruption of Latin American cartels, human smugglers and organized crime than Joe Biden? I can almost hear their shouts of “Viva, el Presidente!” and “Vivan a las fronteras abiertas!” (Long live open borders!)
Here’s the headline from a recent Wall Street Journal report: “Smuggling migrants to the U.S. is a booming business.” Indeed, it is. U.S. Customs and Border Protection data claim 2.48 million “southwest land border encounters” in fiscal 2023 (which runs from October through September).
That was a record, though not much larger than fiscal 2022, which was 2.379 million encounters. Fiscal 2021 was 1.735 million. That’s 6.6 million southwest border encounters in Biden’s three years in office.
By contrast, between 2014 and 2019, encounters ranged from 415,000 to 569,000. Sometimes it’s better not to be No. 1.
Millions of migrants traveling thousands of miles north across South and Central America and Mexico have created massive new opportunities for organized crime. As the Journal reports, “The number of U.S.-bound migrants crossing through the Darién Gap (in Panama) this year has surged to a record 449,653 as of Tuesday.” Each migrant pays at least $350 just to be guided through the pass.
There’s more: “U.S. and Colombian investigators say that the Gulf Clan — a group made up of former paramilitary and rebel fighters who had participated in Colombia’s long civil conflict — takes a major cut of those fees.” Cartels control most of the routes originating in South America and ending at our southern border, or they take a cut of the money from those groups that do control certain areas.
A law-enforcement-linked Immigration Task Force recently released a paper asserting that cartels used to be focused primarily on illegal drug trafficking. That’s changed. “Now, cartels have teams specializing in logistics, transportation, surveillance, and more, resulting in revenues of up to $13 billion. According to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement official, ‘[t]he sheer number of people seeking to cross made migrant smuggling an irresistible moneymaker for some cartels.’”
How big are the cartels these days? A new study published in the journal Science estimates that cartels — with some 150 different groups employing 175,000 people — have become the fifth largest employer in Mexico. So, Biden’s policies are creating jobs!
As migrants move to the border, they fork over thousands of dollars, increasing the cartels’ revenue and influence. Those who can’t pay may be forced to facilitate the cartels’ illegal drug trafficking, or face violence or death. The cartels then spread that money around, buying influence, favors and corruption throughout much of Latin America, and even the U.S.
It’s hard to blame the migrants, who are hoping for opportunity and a better life, for trying to reach the states. Most of them come from depressed economies or failed states in Latin America, but also increasingly from Russia, Africa and Asia.
If the southern border were actually closed to illegal immigration, and the federal government were determined to stop the flow, the migrant numbers would decrease significantly. But the migrants know the border is wide open, regardless of what Biden officials tell the media. The migrants claim asylum, and even if the vast majority are economic immigrants who are not qualified under current U.S. asylum laws, they will likely be allowed to stay for years before their cases are heard.
But didn’t Biden put Vice President Kamala Harris in charge of addressing the root causes of illegal immigration? Yes, and she claimed last year she was making progress, but no one believes her. The fact is, it’s Biden’s open border policy that’s the primary cause of the massive influx.
Biden also set up the U.S. Council on Transnational Crime to enhance the government’s fight against global crime organizations. But the Dallas Morning News reports, “we can’t find evidence that the council has met a single time since its formation in late 2021 or that it has publicly communicated a plan or strategy.”
To connect the dots, Biden’s open border policy has led to millions of economic migrants crossing the southern border. Cartels, which control much of the land through which the migrants are passing, see the flow as a huge financial opportunity and have exploited it. The influx of billions of dollars in new revenue has helped the cartels expand their illegal drug trafficking, corruption and other criminal activities, while undermining many of the Latin American governments as well as imposing challenges for U.S. state and local governments.
So, while Biden travels the country trying to convince Americans that his policies have made the economy stronger, he won’t have to convince the cartels south of the border. They’ve never had it so good.