One of Joe Biden’s first priorities as president will be to risk stoking a new migrant crisis.
After much trial and error, President Donald Trump came up with cooperative arrangements with Mexico and Central American countries that drastically diminished the pressure from asylum-seekers on our southern border.
Biden is pledged to overturn these policies, as well as undermine enforcement and boost immigration numbers across the board. The lie about Biden is that he’s “a moderate,” when the truth is that he’s always been smack in the middle of his party, which is increasingly radical on immigration policy.
The new Democratic Party bristles with contempt for borders and the agents who police them, and its attitude will color everything Biden does.
The migrant crisis that had Trump adopt, then quickly abandon, a zero-tolerance policy that separated children from their parents wasn’t of his making. President Barack Obama struggled with the same surge at the border, and many of the photos of children in cages used to condemn Trump date from the Obama years.
Trump only got a handle on the border when he secured deals for help. Mexico agreed to allow migrants seeking asylum in this country to remain in Mexico while their claims were adjudicated. Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, meanwhile, signed safe-third-country agreements, meaning migrants seeking asylum could be sent to those counties to pursue their claims rather than doing so in the U.S.
All of this was necessary to try to close effectively an open-border for migrants from Central America. Once they showed up and claimed asylum here, they were waived into the country and rarely, if ever, removed, even if their asylum claims ultimately failed (as the vast majority did).
Biden has said he wants to rip up these agreements. This will create a strong incentive for more migrants to come to the border, at a time when apprehensions of unaccompanied minors have increased from about 750 a month in April to roughly a 1,000 in a six-day period in mid-November.
During the pandemic, Trump has relied on an emergency public-health authority to turn migrants around at the border. Biden hasn’t said whether he will repeal this fail-safe, but he will come under intense pressure to scrap it, too.
Biden will move on all fronts to loosen immigration controls. He’s promised a 100-day moratorium on deportations, a measure that will keep us from removing illegal immigrants even when they are released from jails after committing crimes. This is presumably a step toward re-instituting the Obama administration’s policy of gutting interior enforcement.
He will restore DACA, the amnesty for illegal immigrants who came here as minors that Obama lawlessly imposed by diktat.
He will propose to Congress a broader amnesty for more than 10 million illegal immigrants. If the Senate balks, as is likely, Biden will be tempted to follow Obama’s (and Trump’s) example and implement as much as possible through his own authority.
He will boost the number of refugees to more than 100,000 a year, the highest level in 30 years.
Trump’s signature failure on immigration was missing the opportunity to pass significant legislation reflecting his priorities through Congress when Republicans controlled both chambers. But, as Steven Camarota of the restrictionist Center for Immigration Studies notes, the net growth of the immigration population still declined markedly.
Despite all of Trump’s incendiary rhetoric on this issue, the upshot of his approach was entirely reasonable — levels of immigration shouldn’t inexorably increase, and immigration policy should be subject to a rigorous test of national interest.
Biden represents a return to the old status-quo assumption that more immigration is, ipso facto, a good thing, at the same time he leads a party that is more zealous on the issue than ever before.
Democrats aren’t much interested in immigration controls, and it’s entirely possible that, soon enough at the border, it will again be uncontrolled.
Rich Lowry has been the editor of National Review since 1997. He’s a Fox News political analyst and writes for Politico and Time. He is on Twitter @RichLowry.