Immigration System Not Broken, Just Ignored, Former Immigration Judge Says

FILE - President Joe Biden walks along a stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso Texas, Jan. 8, 2023. The Biden administration has requested 1,500 troops for the U.S.-Mexico border amid an expected migrant surge following the end of pandemic-era restrictions. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

The U.S. immigration system isn’t broken, laws established by Congress are being just ignored, a former immigration judge recently told members of Congress.

“Despite consistent claims to the contrary, America’s immigration system is not broken. Far from it, in fact,” Matthew O’Brien said at a hearing Thursday held by the U.S. Oversight Committee’s Subcommittee on National Security, the Border, and Foreign Affairs.

O’Brien spoke amid a record number of migrants having entered or trying to enter the U.S. – burden border guards, the U.S. court systems, cities in which the immigrants are waiting to be granted assylum.

“The problem is that too many administrations have simply ignored whatever aspects of the Immigration and Nationality Act they dislike or find politically inconvenient,” O’Brien continued. “And they do so wholly in order to pander to perceived political constituencies, while ignoring the safety, security and economic interests of the wider American public.”

He said the Biden administration’s “flagrant disregard” for the INA “has currently become the norm” and is “leading us into a public safety and national security crisis from which the United States may find itself unable to recover.” 

The INA stipulates that Border Patrol agents apprehend illegal border crossers and process them for removal through expedited removal procedures or detain them pending review by an immigration court or Citizenship and Immigration Services, with exceptions. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, via a memo in 2021, directed agents to a new policy: Illegal entry alone was no longer a deportable offense, even though federal law states it is.

Florida, Texas and Louisiana sued in separate cases, attempting to stop what became known as “catch and release.”

The Supreme Court ruled that states didn’t have legal standing, overruling a lower court that said the states did. A bill was introduced this week to amend the INA granting states legal standing.