Biden Backpedals on Opening Border on Day One, but the Damage Is Done

COMMENTARY Homeland Security

Biden Backpedals on Opening Border on Day One, but the Damage Is Done

Jan 1st, 2021 4 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Lora Ries

Director, Center for Technology Policy

Lora is Director of the Center for Technology Policy and Senior Research Fellow for Homeland Security at The Heritage Foundation.
View of the United States-Mexico border wall on December 1, 2020 in Jacumba, California. Sandy Huffaker / Stringer / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

It’s too late. The alien smugglers have already cashed their checks.

Biden’s announced delay may sound good to people who want our immigration laws enforced, but they should take no comfort in it.

Tens of thousands of illegal aliens have already come to the border each month, despite COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Joe Biden may have realized he does not want a southwest border crisis in his administration, but the damage he created with his campaign promises is already done. After irresponsibly making campaign statements that “we owe” illegal aliens amnesty and promising to end the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” program on day one, Biden has balked, stating he would make such changes at a slower pace than originally promised.

It’s too late. The alien smugglers have already cashed their checks.

Without even waiting for our election or heeding pandemic restrictions or the rapid increase in virus cases in the United States and Mexico, large migrant flows to our border restarted. In September, October, and November of this year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountered the highest number of apprehensions and inadmissible aliens (57,674, 70,539, and 70,052, respectively), year-over-year, than at least the past seven years.

That is a shocking statistic during a pandemic. Reality apparently started to sink in for the Biden transition team, though, as it tapped the brakes on his negligent campaign promises.

Biden now says he wants to avoid “winding up with 2 million people on our border.” His new timeline is six months, instead of one day, to undo the Trump administration’s asylum policies and operations at the border. Biden denied he was dragging his feet. “Trust me,” he says. This can’t be pleasing to the left flank of Biden supporters who want an open border and want it now.

They shouldn’t worry. A Biden administration would be a third Obama term on immigration policies: DACA, amnesty, and numerous other abusively expansive immigration benefit programs, combined with minimal immigration enforcement, and “catch and release.” The result would be an open border. The Biden campaign website has reinforced this message, promising to implement these programs while painting its immigration nirvana of “reunification,” “sensitivity,” “dignity,” and “access” for illegal aliens here and abroad.

Biden’s announced delay may sound good to people who want our immigration laws enforced, but they should take no comfort in it. One reason Biden cited for the pause is the time needed to gather the funds necessary to hear the tens of thousands of asylum claims at the border. Ending the Trump administration’s Remain in Mexico program would make Biden’s asylum process a bottomless fiscal pit.

The advantages of the Trump program included the cost savings from Mexico housing the asylum applicants instead of the U.S., and the disincentive to would-be illegal aliens from making the journey north to file a fraudulent asylum case when it no longer gave them a ticket to enter the U.S. Terminating the program would incentivize even more dangerous smuggling and countless fraudulent asylum claims.

Instead of working to prevent such illegal immigration, Biden seeks to throw “dramatically increased” amounts of money and staff to process illegal aliens into the U.S. People are disgusted with the federal government giving more of their tax dollars to non-Americans than to Americans, as we saw from the strong criticism of the pork-packed 5,593-page “COVID Relief” bill Congress just passed.

Beyond recklessly spending money we don’t have on illegal immigrants, Biden’s plan to process tens of thousands of asylum applicants at the border will return us to a “catch and release” posture. The number of illegal aliens apprehended at the border would far exceed the number of available immigration detention beds (34,000), resulting in their release into the U.S. They could then easily obtain driver's licenses in a growing number of states and unauthorized employment, aggravating people's ability to find jobs in an economy wracked by the pandemic and forced shutdowns.

Biden’s transition team may have realized managing the border is more difficult than the idyllic picture painted by the Biden campaign, but the campaign’s careless immigration promises have already caused too much damage. Tens of thousands of illegal aliens have already come to the border each month, despite COVID-19 travel restrictions. This endangers Americans’ and the migrants’ health.

Meanwhile, thousands more have already made down payments to their smugglers and made plans to head north. The COVID-19 health and travel restrictions, along with the Remain in Mexico program, are key lines of defense in protecting our border. When Biden terminates them, he owns the next border crisis.

This piece originally appeared in the Washington Examiner