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“BIDEN,” say the young demonstrators’ T-shirts, imitating his campaign logo, “PLEASE LET US IN!” What a waste of T-shirt money: For President Biden seems determined to let in as many immigrants as want to come.
The numbers are daunting. About 80,000 people tried to cross the southern border this January, double the number in January 2020. That number could easily balloon this spring, traditionally the peak migration season, with fewer COVID-19 restrictions in place.
And with less cooperation from Mexico. The 2019 illegal surge was quashed by the protocol to which then-President Donald Trump got Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to agree. AMLO kept Central American would-be migrants inside Mexico, which reduced attempted border crossings and stifled the coyotes’ business model.
Biden could have preserved that arrangement through at least September 2024. Instead, he rescinded the agreement by executive order and scrapped the program.
One predictable result: a sudden spike of what Democrats during the Trump presidency referred to as “children in cages.” As David Harsanyi explains in National Review, migrant children are being kept in detention facilities built by former President Barack Obama’s administration partly for children whose parents or guardians were detained after entering the country illegally and making (usually baseless) claims for asylum. Liberals bellowed when the “cages” held 2,000 minors in the Trump years. Now, under Biden, they hold more than 3,200.
In time, perhaps quickly, those held will be released and sent to purported relatives in the United States, often permanently, since many don’t show up to asylum hearings. Many are infected with the coronavirus.
Locals aren’t happy with the inrush of illegals. The heavily Hispanic Rio Grande Valley produced one of the biggest increases in percentage of Trump voters last fall, and Laredo, Texas, Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat, laments that “migrants are illegally crossing, potentially exposing border communities to the coronavirus and putting us at risk.”
Biden may have called Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to end a statewide mask mandate “Neanderthal thinking,” but Team Biden is apparently happy to send infectious illegal immigrants all around the country. That’s reminiscent of how the Democrats most insistent on masks and lockdowns approved of mass demonstrations by “mostly peaceful” (often-violent) Black Lives Matter supporters last year. The implication is that law-abiding citizens are less deserving of indulgence than angry demonstrators and illegal immigrants.
While Trump was questioned and mocked about his immigration policies, so far, the Biden administration has gotten away with just waving aside questions. Biden — who, unlike his predecessors by this time of their presidencies, hasn’t held a news conference yet — simply ignored a shouted question about the “crisis” on the southern border at an event in a northeast Washington hardware store.
Asked about the tripling of migrant children detained at the border, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki referred questions to the Department of Homeland Security, which wasn’t answering questions, either. “Ask them again,” she said. “It’s not our program.”
As for DHS, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas reportedly said the surge of illegals is “overwhelming” and called for volunteers from the department to help at the border. But he doesn’t want to staunch the flow permanently. “We are not saying, ‘Don’t come,’” he said last week. “We are saying, ‘Don’t come now,’ because we will be able to deliver a safe and orderly process to them as quickly as possible.”
This reluctance to defend and unwillingness to explain a policy that is being put in place by facts on the ground suggests a suspicion that it’s widely unpopular. Candidate Biden made it clear he wanted a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million already in the country illegally, and administration actions now invite many more to come in illegally.
This, at a time when it isn’t clear that the nation needs a new influx of relatively low-skill immigrants. The housing crisis of 2007-08 reduced net migration from Mexico to zero for several years, and it has never rebounded to 1982-2007 levels. The Trump policies, after some stumbles and adverse court decisions, curtailed Central American inflow.
The result is that total immigration flow has tilted toward Asia and has produced a higher percentage of high-skill immigrants — just what those on both sides of immigration arguments have said they want. Now Biden is pursuing a policy that will tend to hold down low-skill wages at a time when many have been involuntarily unemployed for months. Why?