The immigration crisis at the country's Southern border is solely of President Joe Biden's making, and the sad thing is it didn't have to happen.
The new Democratic president and his party were so determined to reverse anything that former President Donald Trump did about immigration that they didn't take the time to differentiate among what had been done well, what could be improved and what had not been done well.
Had they not signaled with their words and their actions that the U.S. would welcome as many migrants as could come, they would not be in the position in which they find themselves.
Today, they face an immigration situation worse than anything in the last two years, and their actions are both harmful to those from Mexico and Central America who put their stock in Biden's words and dangerous for the country into which they seek to enter.
In February, the United States Border Patrol apprehended nearly 100,000 migrants at the Mexico border, the most since 2019. Numbers had fallen to just 16,182 in April 2020, shortly after the coronavirus pandemic virtually closed the border and slowed migration around the world.
The influx also had slowed because of several sensible policies Trump arranged, including requiring asylum seekers to remain in Mexico until their claims could be heard and third-country agreements that required asylum seekers who pass through another country on the way to the U.S. to seek asylum there first (as is the international norm).
A third policy, put in place after the pandemic began, was the implementation of a section of the Public Health Service Act that suspended the entry of aliens into the U.S. because of the coronavirus crisis.
"I don't care if you love President Trump or hate him — you cannot deny the fact that he gave us the most secure border in my career, which is almost 35 years," former Immigration and Customs Enforcement Acting Director Tom Homan said Sunday on "Life, Liberty & Levin" on Fox News.
"I started in 1984 as a Border Patrol agent," he said. "I spent my entire career on border enforcement, immigration enforcement, and President Trump got it right. He had unprecedented success on that border."
The Biden administration, if desirous of allowing more asylum seekers than the Trump administration, could have kept the former president's policies in place and simply upped the numbers it would allow. That would have kept more illegal immigrants from disappearing into the interior of the U.S., as has begun to happen again, and helped prevent the entry into the country of persons with the COVID-19 virus (which has been estimated by one Homeland Security source to be 15%-25% of those crossing the border illegally).
Making a very grim situation laughable is the rhetoric by new Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who first refused to term the gathering storm at the border a crisis, then blamed it on Trump who's been out of office since Jan. 20, then maintained — as he did again on Fox News Sunday — that the border was "secure" and "closed."
On MSNBC's "The Sunday Show" yesterday, a Texas congresswoman and one of the most reliable Democratic votes in the House, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, acknowledged things at the border looked hectic.
"The plan does not look like it's working at this time," she said.
Lee might have understated the current outlook.
An Axios report of a leaked document indicated that some 3,314 unaccompanied migrant children have been in custody longer than the 72 hours a child legally is intended to be held and that 823 have spent more than 10 days in the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol.
Where Trump's administration was criticized for keeping "kids in cages," a policy begun by the previous Obama administration, a Democratic senator who recently returned from the border said he saw children packed into "big open rooms." Various left-leaning media members have termed them "jail-like detention centers."
And the administration — contrary to its "most transparent in history" promise — has denied reporters access to the detention centers and imposed a "gag order" on local Border Patrol Agents. Even the Trump administration, according to NBC, at the 2018 high point of the previous border surge, "allowed media to tour facilities where separated children were held."
But back to Biden.
If he had maintained Trump's border control, and been a forceful advocate for border security (if not necessarily the former president's beloved wall), he might have had leverage for Republicans to support a bill in Congress to legalize Dreamers, the now mostly young adults who were brought into the country by their illegal immigrant parents, or even a legalization process for the rest of the illegal immigrants in the country.
As it is, why would Republicans be supportive of either plan when the administration has so bungled things at the border?
And none of it had to happen this way.
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