ICE Chief: ‘We Cannot Secure the Border in a Meaningful Way’



With much angst on display, a national Border Security Expo didn’t offer much sense of security this week in San Antonio.

From the keynote speaker, acting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) director Ronald Vitiello, to lower-level functionaries at ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the official line was decidedly downbeat.

“We cannot secure the border in a meaningful way under the current system,” Vitiello told reporters. “It’s an unmitigated crisis.”

As record waves of “family units” and asylum seekers come to the U.S., Vitiello said 108,500 illegal aliens were released into the country in the past 90 days. More are expected.

CBP is now unilaterally freeing migrants with notices to appear for immigration hearings at some future date. Normally, migrants apprehended by CBP would be turned over to ICE for processing and supervision, until immigration hearings can be conducted.  However, bypassing ICE involvement renders adjudication of immigration claims and the enforcement of any subsequent orders significantly  less likely.

Citing “strain on the mission” and “degradation” of resources, a weary Vitiello said the situation at the border “is not sustainable. I don’t know how much longer we can do it.”

On the eve of the Expo, CBP reported that a tractor trailer carrying 15 smuggled Chinese nationals got halfway to San Antonio before it was stopped at a checkpoint. “We might have caught them at the border if there weren’t so many other distractions,” Vitiello told a press briefing.

A glimmer of good news came from Washington, where the Pentagon announced it would redirect $3.6 billion from the military’s construction budget toward building the border wall.

Curiously, that move didn’t rate a mention at the Expo. An ICE spokeswoman told FAIR the agency had no comment on the funding, which, when combined with the modest $1.3 billion Congress approved last month, gets closer to the $8.6 billion sought by President Donald Trump.

With 34 years at CBP and ICE, Vitiello is still awaiting Senate confirmation to his post while he witnesses a U.S.-Mexico border descending into chaos. Pointing to continued political gridlock on Capitol Hill and legal gamesmanship in the courts, he said America is “encouraging” more Central Americans to make the perilous journey north.

Migrants who successfully navigate the dangerous terrain and elude the predatory cartels en route figure they have a good shot at getting securely into this country. According to our beleaguered border enforcers, they’re not wrong.

About Author

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Bob Dane, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)'s Executive Director, has been with FAIR since 2006. His deep belief is that immigration is the most transformational determinant of where we are heading as a nation and that our policies must be reformed in the public interest. Over many years on thousands of radio, TV and print interviews, Bob has made the case that unless immigration is regulated and sensibly reduced, it will be difficult for America to reduce unemployment, increase wages, improve health care and education and heighten national security. Prior to joining FAIR, Bob spent twenty years in network radio, marketing and communications after an earlier career in policy and budgeting within the Reagan Administration. Bob has a degree from George Mason University in Public Administration and Management.

12 Comments

  1. avatar

    Thats why the military needs to run border security complete with a no mans land on the mex side of the border !!!

  2. avatar

    Rob Jones
    Anyone want REAL info on how well a border wall/ fence works

    Google this recent news headline about the country of Hungary

    “” Hungary’s illegal immigration plunges over 99% after building border fence “”””

    Walls, and fences built properly ….work!

    This illegal immigration problem is going to financial “bust” the country, as more and more enter, and also once here as they age, become more of a financial burden to U.S. tax payers.

    • avatar
      Zobie Reichard on

      You are so right this does have to stopped they come to get freebies and we have to stop this big time we can’t take care of these people plus will be fraud from them too (taxes) this is taking away from us Americans and seniors this needs too Build the wall

  3. avatar

    Trump needs to say to Congress either pass laws that are going to stop this invasion or he will send the armed forces to the border where they will string barbed wire everywhere. It’s beyond an emergency. He does best when he gets to speak directly to the public. The reaction to the polls after the State of the Union was very positive because it gets beyond the media’s ability to spin what they claim he said.

    If there is anyone dumber than Joe Biden it’s hard to think of them. Now this idiot is saying that beating your wife is because of “white culture” because it’s supposedly based in English common law. As if it hasn’t been going on forever, unfortunately. Just the next chapter in a party that has decided that it can demonize the white majority that they then ask to vote for them. A new version of deplorable.

    • avatar

      He’s Doing More Than That Leland

      Trump is now threatening to close the Mexican border. Period. Trump alleges that the Mexican Army could stop this invasion but they refuse. I believe Trump, not the Mexicans…

      • avatar

        That would definitely get their attention. Kind of like Hungary did in Europe when they were being told they needed to take “their share” of the migrants that Merkel said were “welcome” in Germany. There was a report a couple weeks ago that Mexico was arranging bus trips to the Texas border knowing that remote section of the border is open and once in the country they are here. Naturally the left will pitch a fit but let them. Talk about Russia. The left has facilitated the takeover of this country by Mexico and Central America.

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  5. avatar
    Yazmin Linares on

    Who cares!!!!  Just so long as their asses are deported!!!! Jesus I called Police & Immigration on the Mexicans who flooded my neighborhood & were deliberately destroying my home & nothing was done. The Police didn’t even arrest them on Criminal Destruction charges so I called Foothill Police and told them that in the future if I  call DON’T SEND A MEXICAN OFFICER.  SO YEAH GLAD TO FINALLY HEAR ICE IS ON IT AS I HAD TO LIVE IN FEAR OF JUST WALKING OUT MY DOOR FOR 3 YEARS BECAUSE OF THESE UNDOCS.  DON’T COME HERE & BEHAVE LIKE CRIMINALS!!!
    LEGAL50 PLUS YEARS REAL LATINA IMMIGRANT

  6. avatar

    So, “Catch and Release” is back with a vengeance. That confirms reports from other sources. Would-be illegals are motivated to crash the border, as even getting caught by “La migra” is No Problemo!

  7. avatar
    LaNell Barrett on

    The liberals don’t CARE, may even prefer, the U.S.A. becomes Northern Latin America.

    • avatar

      Do like we did in VIET NAM, string Constantine wire, leave open 20 yards and string it again. The middle is the KILLING FIELD, THE ONLY REASON YOU DON’T ********** NOW IS BECAUSE THEY ARE INVADERS WITH NO WEPONS. Are go out to SAM HOUSTON’S GRAVE AND PRAY FOR HIS RESURRECTION .