AUSTIN, Texas – In government communiques, press conferences, and congressional hearings under oath, top Biden administration officials have repeatedly blamed a particular bogeyman for the unrelenting, historic southern-border mass-migration crisis now into its third year: human smugglers who spread “disinformation” that the border is “open.”
“DHS expects that encounters at the Southwest Border will increase as smugglers spread disinformation…” read a typical May 1, 2023 Department of Homeland Security Fact Sheet about a major upcoming policy shift.
When immigrants have died in trucks or trains while being smuggled into America, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and White House spokespeople have gone straight to the explanation of Mexican cartel disinformation.
The administration is now so invested in this narrative that, in a May 10 press conference, Mayorkas once more blamed a major border surge on “smugglers…hard at work spreading false information.” Then, the secretary announced a government salve: a “digital marketing campaign” to “counter the lies of smugglers” in Central and South America.
As someone who has interviewed thousands of U.S.-bound immigrants over the last several years, I can confidently attest that this narrative is a fabrication. It is pure political misdirection, deflecting blame away from Biden administration policies, which immigrants most commonly cite for why they come.
Most immigrants do not spend fortunes on risky journeys based on disinformation from criminal strangers. Likewise, they would not stay home based on U.S. digital marketing campaigns claiming, “the border is not open.”
They are not the mindless rubes the Biden administration makes them out to be.
No matter what information smugglers or equally untrustworthy U.S. government officials tell immigrants, most will not make a move until they have hard evidence. They will want to confirm with their cousins, friends, or long-time neighbors that the information conforms to the reality on the ground.
Rather, immigrants calculate travel decisions based on the experiences of immigrants who recently crossed, were admitted, and sent back selfies of themselves inside America. They also send testimonials and other hard evidence.
You do not have to believe me, but you should believe the immigrants I have interviewed on camera for two years — and the dozens in recent weeks who started crossing en masse from Juarez to El Paso and from Matamoros to Brownsville. They surged across as the Title 42 rapid-expulsion policy neared its May 12 end. The policy supposedly applied to every illegal border crosser, but it did not.
During a major surge of mass illegal crossings from Juarez to El Paso last month, Mayorkas and senior CBP officials repeatedly vowed that the border was not open, and that cartel disinformation tricked the poor dupes into coming.
But these three Venezuelans, and many others besides them, who I interviewed that same day were not mindless dupes. They told me they were going because friends and family had just crossed and were residing in Washington State or were authorized on the Texas side to take buses to New York.
This Venezuelan man told me he was about to cross with his wife and child, not because a smuggler told him the border was open or because Mayorkas said it was closed, but because friends had crossed two days earlier. They reported back to him that they were now in Colorado and New Jersey.
“They [the Americans] let them in,” he said. “They get permits, immigration papers.”
These are not mere internet wives’ tales. At the McAllen, Texas bus station, for instance, I met countless immigrants who had crossed illegally and were not sent back under Title 42as sworn. Instead, they were released on their own recognizance to settle in interior America. They sent selfies of themselves — thumbs-up on the bus or in plush Manhattan hotel rooms — to everyone they know who had not yet crossed, advising them they could safely enter the United States.
So why would top Biden government fabulists still spin the disinformation tale?
The Biden administration can displace the actual blame by repeatedly blaming loathsome criminal con artists for enticing millions of ostensibly stupid migrants to invest thousands journeying over the American border. The Biden administration and the Democratic Party can deflect the blame from the policies that caused the crisis. Their policies, which have allowed millions to enter and stay, remain a major tractor-beam enticement to everyone who can see the open border on their cell phone.
The transfer of blame is a politically motivated lie. But naïve and ignorant American audiences and corporate media outlets are uncritically accepting this hogwash.
Who is not naïve or uncritical of claims? Certainly not these Venezuelan gentlemen who I interviewed in Matamoros this month or hundreds of other immigrants I have met in recent years. These three young men were smart, savvy, and fully connected to the internet and social media platforms. All planned to swim the Rio Grande to Brownsville along with thousands of others. They were all moving because they knew someone who had recently gotten into the United States.
“Do you all know someone who was just let in?” I asked.
“Si, si, si,” they all answered in unison, naming friends all admitted into America or, in one man’s case, a cousin who had crossed and was happily staying in a Tennessee hotel. He showed me the paper with the man’s new address written on it.
I have never met someone intending to cross the border who did not have a cell phone with internet access. In analyzing incoming information, I would argue that immigrants are more discriminating about disinformation than most Americans. They rely on primary-source evidence.
If testimonials do not expose the disinformation narrative as a lie, then basic logic might help. Cartel operatives and smugglers are untrustworthy liars to be sure, but they are also good businessmen first.
No one knows better than smugglers the power of immigrant selfies from the states. Telling a lie that the border is easily breached when it is not might work once or twice on the first fools — But not millions of times.
Lying would kill business instantly, while happy immigrants who paid their smuggling fees and send back videos of their children enrolling in Chicago Public Schools keeps the cash register ringing for months and years.
The half of America willing to fall for the Biden administration’s blame-displacement tactic could learn a thing or two from immigrants and their smugglers.