On the campaign trail, Joe Biden promised to be President Trump’s antithesis on border and immigration issues. Basically, Biden—whose victory was declared Monday by the Electoral College—pledged to do the opposite of everything Trump did regarding illegal immigration. So let’s play out what that would actually look like, assuming Trump’s continuing efforts to overturn former Vice President Biden’s election as president don’t succeed. Spoiler alert: It would be like dousing a fire with gasoline.
Even in normal times, there’s lots not to like about open border policies. But in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, open borders present another problem: a catastrophic public health risk of the spread of the deadly disease COVID-19.
Because of the pandemic, the U.S.-Canada border is closed to all nonessential traffic. International travel is tightly regulated. The notion of unregulated crossings along the U.S.-Mexico border is really unthinkable.
Beyond that, there’s an ever-present problem. Any time a U.S. administration evens hints at relaxing border security and immigration enforcement, it becomes a massive recruiting tool for human traffickers who work for international criminal cartels.
Would-be border crossers flock to pay the cartels to be smuggled into the U.S. The cartels then use their profits to fuel all their other criminal enterprises, including pouring more illegal drugs into American homes, schools and workplaces.
And don’t forget the human cost of encouraging illegal immigration. It is beyond tragic. Traffickers ruthlessly exploit the people who pay for their "services." And every step of the way toward an illegal border crossing comes with the danger of rape, robbery, murder, extortion and exposure—not to mention the health risks.
Trafficking is a human rights crime of the first order. Public policies that encourage it, rather than fight it, are just shameful.
Open-border polices in the U.S. also create problems for our southern neighbors, as would-be illegal immigrants pour through their territory headed toward the U.S. There’s a reason that Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and other countries worked closely with the Trump administration on this issue: everyone benefits from secure borders. A return to the days of human caravans headed north is bad for all of us.
It’s hard to find even a political upside to open borders and not enforcing immigration laws. As mentioned earlier, the candidates staked out polar opposite positions. If immigration really were a swing issue, then voters would have swung decidedly one way or the other. They did not.
People pressing radical agendas for reshaping America regard open borders as a must-have. But that is not the case for most Americans. What most Americans do want is an end to the scourge of human trafficking, an end to the opioid epidemic, and an end to the coronavirus pandemic.
Most of us also want full employment for all Americans. They want to be safe from foreign threats that would stream across an unregulated border. They don’t like the idea that some people can break the law, just jump the line and then be rewarded with benefits. As taxpayers, they don’t like the idea that they wind up having to support so many of those who come here illegally.
Another thing Americans want is for America to remain a successful immigration nation. But most realize that open borders, not enforcing the law and looking for administrative end-runs to reward illegal immigration won’t make for success.
If the Biden team pursues open borders, the downsides of those policies will become quickly apparent. All the advocacy and sermonizing of open-border advocates won’t be able to explain what was so bad about Trump’s efforts to stem illegal immigration.
What was bad about low unemployment? What was bad about a more secure border? What was bad about working together with Mexico and Latin America? What was bad about less human smuggling? That’s Biden’s border problem.
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal