On his first day in office, President Joe Biden signed six executive orders on immigration, proposed a sweeping amnesty bill, and ordered the Department of Homeland Security to pause deportations.
That’s an awful lot of activity on an issue that he barely mentioned during the campaign. In doing so, Biden is laying the groundwork for a new border crisis – the very thing his predecessor spent four years trying to avoid.
First, let’s set the record straight on the Trump administration’s achievements at the border.
While the wall was the only thing the mainstream press focused on – and which now covers 24% of the U.S.-Mexico border – Trump scored multiple victories in securing the border.
For example, in 2019 his administration started requiring asylum seekers caught in the U.S. to stay in Mexico while their cases got adjudicated. This “Remain in Mexico” policy targeted one of the biggest and most flagrantly exploited loopholes — dubbed “Catch and Release” — whereby asylum seekers were released into the U.S. on the promise that they’d return for their hearing date – which few did.
As we noted a year ago, “the impact of this program has been little short of profound.” Apprehensions by the Border Patrol plunged from 144,000 in May 2019 to 23,237 by May 2020. Total apprehensions in 2020 dropped by more than half from the year before.
As the El Paso Times put it, “the policy has proved to be a virtual wall.”
Trump issued other rules to thwart would-be asylum seekers. Most recently, he used the COVID-19 pandemic to justify immediately expelling border crossers in “the interest of public health.” In the last three months of last year, more than 183,000 were expelled that way.
As the Heritage Foundation’s James Carafano put it, “over the past few years, more has been done to effectively secure the border than the previous two decades.”
Biden is rushing to undo all of it.
Among his day one executive orders, Biden halted construction on the border wall, removed consequences for sanctuary cities, “fortified” protection of so-called Dreamers, and required Census to count illegal immigrants when deciding how to apportion congressional districts.
Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland security, also on day one, announced a 100-day pause on deportations, and called a halt to Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy.
That’s not all. Biden also proposed sweeping legislation that, among other things, would grant amnesty to anyone who entered the country illegally before the first of this year – which adds up to roughly 11 million people.
Greisa Martinez Rosas, executive director of United We Dream, called the legislation “the most progressive legalization bill in history.”
Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton, was more accurate in his description, describing the bill as an “open borders” plan. “Total amnesty, no regard for the health and security of Americans, and zero enforcement,” he said.
Biden’s sharp u-turn hasn’t gone unnoticed in Central America, as more try to get across the border. In fact, border apprehensions were up 74% in November and December, compared with the year before.
Meanwhile, caravans are already gathering to rush the border, fed by the hope that Biden will let them in. As a matter of fact, one activist said that the caravan expects “that the Biden government honors its commitments.”
Team Biden is already getting worried about a stampede, with one official saying that the caravans “need to understand they are not going to be able to come into the United States immediately.” But Biden’s actions speak louder than these mealy-mouthed words.
So why invite an immigration crisis? Could it be because Democrats see a flood of illegal immigrants today as a way to help them win elections in the future?
Whatever the reason, a crisis at the border will be the fault of the Biden administration, and the Biden administration alone.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board