Former president Bill Clinton said in a recent interview that “there is a limit to how many migrants any society can take without severe disruption.”

This is not a new concern for Clinton. In his 1995 State of the Union address as president, he said, “All Americans, not only in the States most heavily affected but in every place in this country, are rightly disturbed by the large numbers of illegal aliens entering our country.”

Unfortunately, we still have too many undocumented migrants entering our country.

Biden administration disclosures in the Biden v. Texas case indicate that the administration already has released more than 1 million illegal crossers into the country, and releases are likely to increase dramatically when Title 42 expulsions stop, which is inevitable. (The current Title 42 policy is predicated on the COVID pandemic, which — at some point — must officially be declared over.)

Presumably, most of the illegal crossers said they were asylum seekers, but that does not make an improper entry lawful; 8 U.S.C. §1325(a) provides that, “Any alien who (1) enters or attempts to enter the United States at any time or place other than as designated by immigration officers” shall be fined or imprisoned for not more than 6 months, or both for a first offense.

This has overwhelmed our immigration courts. As of Aug. 30, 2022, the immigration courts had a backlog of more than 1.9 million cases, and the average wait for a hearing was 798 days — more than two years.

But I am more concerned about how the large numbers are disrupting the administration’s ability to process Unaccompanied Alien Children and place them in safe, appropriate foster homes.

The treatment of unaccompanied children is governed by several statutes and a legal settlement which require the administration to transfer them to the custody of HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and allow them to apply for asylum or other forms of relief from being sent home.

For the first nine years of this program, fewer than 8,000 children were referred to ORR annually. That number rose to 13,625 in fiscal 2012, to 69,488 in fiscal 2019, and it was 122,731 in fiscal 2021.

In fiscal 2021, approximately 72 percent of the unaccompanied children were over 14 years of age. Countries of origin were approximately as follows: Guatemala - 47 percent; El Salvador - 13 percent; Honduras - 32 percent; and other - 8 percent.

Sponsors are required to undergo background checks and complete a sponsor assessment process that identifies risk factors and other potential safety concerns.

The large increase in referrals that occurred in 2021, resulted in having to detain unaccompanied children for substantial periods of time at overcrowded Customs and Border Protection (CBP) holding centers. To get them out of these centers and into HHS custody as quickly as possible, ORR opened emergency intake sites (EISs)to supplement existing shelters.

Members of Congress, child welfare advocates, and staff at ORR facilities raised concerns about inadequate case management at the Fort Bliss EIS; consequently, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) at HHS conducted an investigation of conditions at this facility.


Published originally on The Hill.

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an Executive Branch Immigration Law Expert for three years. He subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years. Follow him at