Ever since President Joe Biden ended former President Donald Trump’s most effective border security policies, thus causing a chaotic surge of migrants at the southern border, immigration has consistently been Biden's worst polled issue.

As early as August, however, there were rumblings that a “pragmatist” wing in the White House was pushing back against the open borders lobby and was even advocating for a return of a “gentler” version of Trump’s "Remain in Mexico" policy.

At times, it has seemed that the open borders lobby is still dictating policy in the White House, including when Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued a memo this October again stating his intention to end the Remain in Mexico plan.

But other times, the pragmatists have shown they still have some pull, such as when the Biden administration signaled it would cooperate with a federal court order requiring Remain in Mexico to be reinstituted.

Now, the Center for Immigration Studies reports the pragmatists may have more control over administration policy than we thought and that their first enforcement policies are beginning to work. Todd Bensman writes:

President Joe Biden’s Department of Homeland Security is carrying out secretive and escalating air deportations of tens of thousands of migrant border-crossers, a high percentage of them evidently Central American women and children who were supposed to be protected from deportation and, more recently, Haitians.

The air deportation operations to distant home countries, a tactic that has proven highly effective at deterring follow-on illegal migration, appear to have ferried home significant numbers of migrants who recently crossed the southern border illegally — probably well in excess of 65,000 from August through October and thousands more in November, a Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) analysis of aircraft flight data, direct observation at the McAllen airport, a pilot interview, and other public information indicate.

As late as July, the Department of Homeland Security was conducting just 35 removal flights a month. But as the border crisis worsened, the number rose to 99 in August, then to 193 in September, with another 139 flights in October. As CIS notes, it is only after these deportation flights ramped up that the number of migrants apprehended on the southern border finally began to decline.

Only administration insiders know why these flights were initiated or how the administration is choosing who gets to stay in the United States and who is flown home. But it is a clear sign that there is still a battle between pragmatists and open borders ideologues in the White House and that the open borders crowd isn’t as all-powerful as we thought.