Tucked away near the end of his long, rambling State of the Union address, President Joe Biden spoke of the “need to secure the border” and added a few vague remarks about “fix[ing] the immigration system.” It is probably a topic he would have preferred to avoid altogether, because talking about it only reminded the American public (momentarily distracted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and raging inflation) of how disastrous his border and immigration policies have been.
His speechwriters obviously felt it was necessary to throw in a sop about the importance of addressing border security in light of overwhelming public alarm at the chaos that now prevails. They also felt compelled to toss a rhetorical bone to the Democratic Party’s far-left base that wants amnesty for illegal aliens, and who are fuming about his failure to deliver on that promise. Notwithstanding Mr. Biden’s fleeting remarks, the border will not be secured because the president refuses to do so. Nor will there be any legislated illegal alien amnesties in 2022 because he doesn’t have the votes, and heading into the midterm elections, voting on such bills is the last thing a lot of nervous congressional Democrats want.
But lots of stuff gets thrown into State of the Union addresses that every president knows will never happen. It is rare, however, for a president to make a pitch for policy measures that he is actively working to undermine. Yet, that is precisely what President Biden did last week.
Among Biden’s first acts in office was to halt construction of the border security wall. Despite intense mockery by coastal elitists and media pundits, the border wall (the first sections of which were built under President Bill Clinton, and significantly added to under President Donald Trump) has proven to be enormously effective where it is in place. Additionally, American taxpayers have already paid for the additional miles of fencing that Biden canceled, and they’re not getting a refund.
The Biden administration fulfilled a campaign promise not to detain broad categories of illegal border crossers. Instead, they reinstated catch-and-release policies, not only allowing them to enter the United States with a promise to show up for a hearing sometime in the future, but actually transporting many illegal aliens to their preferred destinations around the country.
Perhaps most laughably, the president called for greater cooperation with Mexico and Central American nations to stanch the flow of migrants heading to our border. On Day One of his administration, President Biden a bilateral agreement with Mexico known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). MPP was effectively deterring asylum fraud by requiring third-country asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico until an initial hearing could be held to determine whether there was any merit to their claims.
Even after he was ordered by a federal court to reinstate MPP, the administration returned a grand total of 410 migrants to Mexico in December and January, out of the 332,781 migrants who were encountered entering the country illegally during those two months. Meanwhile, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security remain committed to terminating the program as soon as they can find a legally acceptable means to do so.
Likewise, Biden, with a straight face, boasted that his administration is “securing commitments and supporting partners in South and Central America to host more refugees.” What the president neglected to mention is that we had such agreements in place and that he unilaterally scrapped them within two weeks of assuming office.
The comprehensive list of ways in which President Biden’s administration has undermined border and immigration enforcement over the last year would probably be longer than the entirety of last week’s address. The policies that have led to the border chaos that President Biden falsely claims he wants to end, however, can be summed up in one sentence by the man he has put in charge of those policies, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Speaking on CBS News in January, Mayorkas stated, “For the first time ever, our policy explicitly states that a non-citizen’s unlawful presence in the United States will not, by itself, be a basis for the initiation of an enforcement action.”
We cannot secure our border when the policy “explicitly states” that there is no penalty for crossing it illegally. The migrants understand that, the American people understand that, and so should Joe Biden.
Ira Mehlman is media director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in Washington D.C.