The immigration crisis on the U.S. southern border is being ignored, says border reporter Todd Bensman, in this interview.
Almost everyone wants to help downtrodden and poor people seeking a better life. But according to Todd Bensman, a Fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies and longtime reporter, the public is seriously misled about current immigration at the U.S. southern border. Right after his July testimony at a joint hearing of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border Security and Enforcement and the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence, I had the opportunity to interview Bensman.
Rosenberg: Your book, “Overrun,” published this year about what you call the “greatest border crisis in U.S. history” was an eye-opener to me. A few years ago, the news was full of reports of crowds and caravans of people trying to cross the southern border yet reportage has virtually evaporated.
Bensman: Yes, when it gets bad enough at the border, the international press does show up. They did for the Haitian migrant crisis. Through early 2019 you couldn’t throw a rock in any direction without hitting an American reporter. Since then, almost all policies are designed to avoid any replication of that kind of scene.
For example, families with children under seven, unaccompanied minors and pregnant women were sent back to Mexico on the day before inauguration. On the day of inauguration, January 20, 2021, that stopped immediately and the new orders were for these three big categories to be allowed in. Those were considered the most vulnerable populations.
Rosenberg: Is that what they sometimes call “Catch and Release”?
Bensman: Yes. And of course word of these exemptions got around quickly; you started seeing pregnant women out there everywhere on the trail. The Border Patrol literally began welcoming migrants as opposed to detaining them and bringing them back to the bridges and pushing them back over as they had not done before.
Rosenberg: What is confusing is this 180 degree turn in policy was barely covered by mainstream media.
Bensman: Nobody, nobody covered it. To this day, nobody’s really covered that. I mean, there’s all kinds of video but it’s coming from conservative media, and therefore it’s just discredited and nobody will use it. I videotape and record the migrants myself and it is up on my Twitter account – here’s what they say; here’s where they are.
Border Patrol agents now are literally working with the cartel pilots – saying “how many you got?” – it is just bizarre.
Rosenberg: You mean the Border Patrol is not patrolling the border?
Bensman: Well, when there’s a lot of people crossing the border and turning themselves it takes a lot of manpower. Paperwork, fingerprinting photographing. And then you got to bring in all the Border Patrol agents from that area. Sometimes even from further away to do the work. So no, they’re just not on the line; they’re not out there. They’re in the central processing facilities.
Rosenberg: And this isn’t news?
Bensman: Certainly reporters and their editors tend to be Democrats but they are ignoring what is the sexiest story on Earth right now and has been for two and a half years. It’s got cops and robbers. It’s got human drama, it’s got drugs, it’s got families with cute little kids.
Rosenberg: The omission is baffling. Illegal border crossers are so often portrayed as pathetic, penniless and fleeing violence. But in “Overrun” you write that neither the Haitians or the Venezuelans were in their own countries when they sought to cross the border.
Bensman: Yes, I just did a story about the Venezuelans that I’ve been meeting down there on the trail, who are all claiming humanitarian, protection and asylum but none of them have lived in Venezuela! They tell me they’ve been living in all these other countries happily and prosperously and I’m like, “Well, why are you applying for humanitarian protection?” And they say, “because we can.”
Rosenberg: So that is why they discard their IDs?
Bensman: Yes because their ID shows that they were in a “Safe Third Country” which makes them ineligible for asylum. But if they throw the IDs away and lie a little bit about where they’ve been and their itinerary, the chances are much better that they’ll be let in. If you’re authentically drowning, you just grab anything that’s floating. What these people are doing is saying, I’m gonna just disregard these 15 life rafts and wait for the big shiny one over there. That’s why I have a whole chapter titled “insane asylum” – asylum is the root cause of this, along with these new policies.
Rosenberg: Can you speak a little more about asylum?
Bensman: During Title 42 [a code to prevent COVID-19 spread] people claiming asylum had to remain in Mexico. Nobody was interested in claiming asylum if they had to wait in Mexico. On the other hand, asylum claims in the U.S. are so backlogged they can take seven years. Many just blow off their claim and disappear – judges overwhelmingly decline the claims because they are not political but rather economic migrants. So the whole game of asylum is just the very beginning of the procedure where you claim it and they let you go.
Rosenberg: So “fleeing gang violence,” as the main news outlets so often characterize the journeys, is incorrect?
Bensman: Gang violence is not an eligible asylum claim; it must be political persecution by the government. Secondly, anybody who’s claiming, oh, I left my Central American country because of gang violence and now lives on the south side of Chicago will find their gang violence is nothing compared to Chicago’s gang violence. Are they planning to flee now to another country because of it?
Rosenberg: You write in “Overrun” that people from over 160 different countries use the U.S.’ Southern border to gain entry.
Bensman: I’ve met emigrants from just about every country on the continent of Africa–from countries I had to look up. There’s no country that isn’t represented down there on that border. People from Muslim countries praying five times a day; people from Kyrgyzstan. When I ask these people on the trail, why did you not come ten years ago, they’re say, “oh, the border was opened.”
Rosenberg: In your book and in your congressional testimony you mentioned the effect this border crisis is having on our schools. What are some of the “Forever Consequences” as you call them call them?
Bensman: Many people think this doesn’t really affect them but thanks to the 1982 Supreme Court decision that all children go to public schools, including illegal, bond issues and local taxation are spiking. Portable classrooms need to be purchased and instruction is dumbing down to the lowest common denominator of kids that don’t speak English. Every American who’s got kids in public schools is feeling this – hundreds of millions of people.
The Border Crisis
This revealing interview with Todd Bensman sheds light on a series of unreported issues and policy changes at the U.S. southern border. The mainstream media largely ignored the dramatic shifts in policy since the inauguration in 2021, the complications with the asylum system, collaboration between Border Patrol agents and cartel pilots, and the consequences of mass migration from over 160 countries on local communities.
Bensman’s insights provide a stark contrast to the public’s understanding of border issues, challenging conventional narratives and raising serious questions about the transparency and accountability in immigration enforcement and reporting.
Border Reporter Todd Bensman
Border reporter “Todd Bensman tells the truth about illegal immigration and how it is not a victimless crime. With immigration front and center this year, his book is a must-read.” – Thomas Homan, former Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 2017-2018, and author of Defend the Border and Save Lives: Solving Our Most Important Humanitarian and Security Crisis.