“The crisis has already begun,” former U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan pointed out during the Texas Public Policy Foundation livestream event, “When the Walls Come Tumbling Down: The Coming Border Crisis.” Morgan joined TPPF Senior Fellow in Border Security Josh Jones and TPPF Executive Director Kevin Roberts to discuss the quickly accelerating impact of the sweeping border security and immigration policy changes that are being made by the new administration in Washington.

Morgan recounted that in 2019, prior to the full implementation of a series of aggressive Trump administration measures such as the Migrant Protection Protocols with Mexico, federal court-ordered restrictions along with loopholes in the U.S. asylum system had forced both his agency and ICE to “catch and release” over half a million unauthorized immigrants into the country. Trump administration measures proven to be effective “are now systematically being undone,” Morgan said.

The new administration, Morgan lamented, has instead chosen to revive the practice of catch and release and “once you’re here illegally they are going to protect you from lawful deportation, and then as you remain here illegally they are going to reward you with an expansion of DACA, amnesty and free health care.”

With the end of the Migrant Protection Protocols and other measures, TPPF’s Josh Jones said it remains to be seen whether Mexico and other governments in the region will continue to collaborate in stopping migrant caravans from heading to the U.S. southwestern border. Jones said the security situation in Mexico continues to deteriorate, with the government there “increasingly unable to protect its people from organized crime. The government is becoming increasingly compromised by organized crime.”

As the Biden administration’s policies effectively reignite the crisis, Morgan said “at some point, the Northern Triangle countries and Mexico are going to say ‘Hey, wait a minute, we’re doing our part, you’re not doing your part’” in stemming the northward flow of potentially millions of additional asylum seekers and unauthorized immigrants from around the world.

Morgan praised Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton for his lawsuit, which TPPF supports, challenging the Biden administration’s plan to halt lawful deportations for 100 days. He warned that the new administration appears to be hell-bent on “systematically reducing and removing ICE’s enforcement capabilities.”

As TPPF has also repeatedly recommended, Morgan said it is incumbent on Congress to pass legislation that would supersede the Flores Settlement Agreement, which is what currently mandates the release of unaccompanied foreign national minors after 20 days of detention, a time period which is insufficient to make a final determination on an asylum claim. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2008 should be similarly amended by Congress to eliminate the incentive for families from non-contiguous countries to send children across the border unaccompanied.

Both Jones and Morgan emphasized the need for greater use of technology in tunnel detection efforts, as well as more thorough non-intrusive inspections at ports of entry. Jones added that as the Biden administration follows through on its pledge to increase aid to the Northern Triangle countries, that aid should have “strings attached” including improving the enforcement of their own borders. As he also did in a recent National Review article, Jones also emphasized the need for the U.S. government to “get much tougher” with the government of Mexico. Jones said that includes investigating and prosecuting government actors who are protecting the drug cartels.