Editor’s note: We endeavor to bring you the top voices on current events representing a range of perspectives. Below is a column arguing that Biden and his policies are responsible for the surge of migrants at the border. You can find a counterpoint here, where Jessica Bolter and Randy Capps from the Migration Policy Institute argue that while Biden’s policies have contributed to the surge, the real problems causing it have been building for years.
He might as well have stood on the U.S.-Mexico border and waved the green flag.
From the moment he stepped onto the stage during the Democratic debates, Joe Biden made it crystal clear: The comprehensive border and interior immigration deterrent systems that were put in place during the Trump administration — that had resulted in illegal immigration being reduced to record low levels — were coming down as soon as he was elected.
And he didn’t mince his words. During the presidential debates in 2019, Biden told the world’s would-be immigrants and those fleeing some form of persecution that “you should come.” And he didn’t stop there. He proudly proclaimed that on the legal immigration front, America “could afford to take in a heartbeat another two million people [per year].”
Unfortunately for the safety and the security of the American people, the world was listening. Despite the fact that the nation was in the middle of two of the biggest crises it had faced in modern times: A pandemic that had already killed hundreds of thousands of Americans and a related economic downturn that had destroyed businesses, jobs and hope for many Americans who had been unemployed for months with no end in sight, Biden signaled that he’d open the floodgates.
In the realm of immigration, perception is much more important than reality. And Joe Biden was creating the perception for all of those who wanted to come to America for whatever reason, that if he was elected president, the borders were going to be wide open. And the frosting on the cake was his promise to support a mass amnesty for the nation’s 14.5 million illegal aliens.
Anticipation of a Biden victory led to increased pressure on the border as early as September 2020, when border apprehensions suddenly shot up to more than 57,000, the highest total for the month of September in 15 years, as well as the highest number of apprehensions for the past fiscal year. By December, after Biden had won the Oval Office, but before he was sworn in as president, scores of illegal immigrants from Cuba chanted “Biden, Biden” and attempted to storm the border port of entry near El Paso.
When Joe Biden put his hand on the bible on Jan. 20, he was inheriting an America that had the best immigration deterrent system in place in modern history. The Trump administration – knowing that it would get zero help from Congress – had created a portfolio of deterrence systems that together had resulted in plunging illegal immigration numbers that were the lowest in recent memory.
These included bilateral agreements with our neighbors to the south that tamped down on asylum abuse, forcing those who were seeking asylum to make their claims in the first safe country rather than “country shop.” The administration encouraged Mexico to better enforce its southern border. It also ended “catch and release” which had allowed tens of thousands to ask for asylum and then disappear into the interior of the nation through an agreement with Mexico that mandated illegal immigrants who made asylum claims would have to remain in Mexico until their hearings in the U.S.
These were all undone in the blink of an eye with a flurry of executive orders that included halting deportations – even for criminal aliens – for 100 days.
Now we find ourselves in the middle of what is predicted to be the largest wave of illegal immigration in more than two decades. Apprehensions have exploded, with more than 100,000 illegal crossers in the month of February alone and experts predicting that at this level, 2021 will see more illegal alien apprehensions than the previous three years combined.
This has not only destabilized things in the U.S., which was completely unprepared for the mass of humanity that is crashing its borders, but it has also destabilized things in Mexico as well. Mexican President Lopez Obrador, who calls Biden “the migrant president,” recently noted that “We need to work together to regulate the flow, because this business can’t be tackled from one day to the next.” The massive flow of humanity through Mexico is emboldening criminal cartels and endangering the lives, health and safety of people in Mexico.
Unfortunately for both nations, the person who single-handedly caused this problem won’t even admit that a problem exists. The president dispatched the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the border to manage “the challenge.” And despite protests from Democratic members of Congress along the border and mayors of border towns that are being forced to manage this crisis, the administration continues to play ostrich, sticking its head in a hole in the ground and quietly hoping that this will somehow go away on its own. Good luck with that.
Dave Ray is director of communications at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in Washington D.C.