Candidate Joe Biden was harshly critical of Donald Trump’s handling of immigration policy and border enforcement. He was even critical and apologetic about the Obama administration’s record on immigration, in which he served as vice president, even though President Obama’s supposed toughness on immigration was vastly hyped.
During the 2020 campaign, Biden promised that if elected, families would not be separated, children would not be detained, migrants (particularly women and children) would not be imperiled, and that our borders would not be overrun. Mr. Biden pledged that we would have an immigration policy that reflects our “values” as a nation – a malleable term that all politicians like to toss around in order to justify whatever it is they want to do.
Less than three months into his presidency, it is clear that none of these promises have been kept and that not only aren’t we living up to our values as a humane nation, but President Biden’s immigration policies are directly responsible for even greater despair, abuse and death.
Children are now being separated from their parents in even greater numbers than occurred during the brief period when the Trump administration lawfully removed children from the custody of adults who smuggled them across the border. President Biden’s clear and repeated assertions that unaccompanied minors would be allowed to remain in the United States has (predictably) resulted in unprecedented numbers of parents making the decision to separate themselves from their children.
After railing against his predecessor for “putting kids in cages” (even though they weren’t actually cages, but sections of large detention facilities cordoned off by chain link fences for the protection of the kids), the Biden administration is now detaining children in facilities that are at 1,600 percent of capacity – amid a global pandemic, no less.
And the kids in overcrowded detention facilities may be the lucky ones. Biden’s policies have been a boon to criminal cartels that are raking in an estimated $14 million a day smuggling human beings – many of them children – into the United States. The abuse has been epic, shameful and on display for all to see. Consider the crying 10-year-old boy abandoned in the desert, left to die (if a television crew hadn’t thankfully stumbled upon him) by the criminal organization that was paid to deliver him to the United States. Two little girls tossed over a 14-foot border fence as the smuggler scurries back into the underbrush on the other side of the border. A six-month-old baby tossed into the Rio Grande River by smugglers as a diversionary tactic, forcing Border Patrol agents to rescue her while the rest of their cargo, including drugs and weapons, got away.
We may never know the number of people who died or faced grievous abuse along the way at the hands of ruthless criminals or the elements as they attempted to take advantage of President Biden’s self-induced border crisis, but we can assume that many have and many more will unless the administration changes course. We do know that President Biden’s policies are responsible for an increase in violence at the hands of criminal cartels in Mexico, as President Lopez Obrador has pleaded with his American counterpart to put an end to the border chaos his policies have triggered.
The human toll of Biden’s policies are not limited to the migrants who put themselves and their children at risk. Under the guise of being “humane,” the Biden administration is subjecting unsuspecting Americans to potential harm from terrorists, violent criminals and further spread of COVID as people continue to pour across our borders in record numbers. The risk to the American public has become so urgent that 275 sheriffs from 39 states wrote an urgent letter to the president imploring him to take action.
The cornerstone of an effective immigration and border enforcement policy is deterrence. The most humane way of preventing people from putting their lives, and their children’s lives in peril is to convince them they will not benefit from doing so. That requires deeds, not empty words urging people not to come now (but perhaps later). Deterrence does not always look pretty, but it is a heck of a lot more humane than what President Biden has wrought under the pretense of being humane.
The evidence is in and it is overwhelming. President Biden’s immigration policies have created a humanitarian, national security and public health crisis. It is time for him to acknowledge his mistake and reverse course.
Ira Mehlman is the media director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).