WASHINGTON – The Heritage Foundation’s immigration team released statements Thursday morning in response to President Joe Biden’s address to a joint session of Congress, in which he called for Congress to grant mass amnesty to illegal aliens currently in the United States:
“The Biden administration inherited a strong and effective set of immigration policies and proceeded to dismantle almost all of them upon entering the White House. Instead of holding individuals accountable for illegally entering the country and applying a consequence to that behavior, the Biden administration has returned to the failed policy of ‘catch and release.’ This is a crisis of his own making. Instead of returning to commonsense enforcement, the Biden administration is pushing forward with a massive amnesty proposal that will exacerbate the crisis and undermine the rule of law.
“The Remain in Mexico program had effectively eliminated widespread asylum fraud. Asylum cooperative agreements with Northern Triangle countries were giving individuals the ability to apply for protection closer to their home countries. The Trump administration had constructed more than 450 miles of border wall, which Border Patrol agents consistently say has helped secure our border and slow the flow of illegal aliens and drugs across the border. The Biden administration ended these agreements and policies within days of assuming office, taking effective tools for immigration officials off the table. The system was working, as the low crossing numbers and high asylum grants prove. President Biden undid all of it.”
“Joe Biden’s border crisis has gotten so bad, he wants to blame almost anyone, or anything, else for the consequences of his actions. Now, he wants to implement a massive amnesty for tens of millions of illegal aliens in a move Democrats think will create new voters and benefit them politically. This is shameful behavior from the president, who raised his right hand and swore to defend and uphold the Constitution and the laws of this country. He has undermined those very laws with his radical open-borders policies, and granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens who broke our laws by coming and remaining here illegally will only make a further mockery of that oath.
“Let’s not forget how bad this crisis is, and the scope of what the president wants to do. In January, 78,000 illegal aliens were apprehended trying to cross the border, a number that increased to 100,000 in February, and more than 172,000 in March. Apprehensions in March 2021 increased by more than 420% compared to March 2020. If this month’s numbers are even close to last month’s shocking 172,000 apprehensions, we are talking about a 900% increase from April 2020 to April 2021.”
“The Biden administration wants the American people to get behind a massive amnesty proposal that would reward widespread, systemic lawbreaking. Congress should reject this call. Border security and respect for our laws should not be a partisan issue, but by advancing what would be the largest amnesty proposal in U.S. history, the Biden administration is making it one by insisting on rewarding up to 30 million illegal aliens with the greatest prize in the world—American citizenship. Doing so will only make this historic border crisis worse.
“The border is so wide open, even the Washington Post is calling out the Biden administration for sparking a ‘widely predicted’ crisis. In February, more than 100,000 individuals tried to illegally cross the border. In March, this number skyrocketed to 172,000, the highest monthly total in nearly 20 years, and an average of nearly 6,000 illegal aliens per day—a higher daily total than any during the 2019 crisis. The administration currently has more than 21,000 unaccompanied minors (UACs) in federal custody. Biden’s own DHS secretary has said, ‘We are on pace to encounter more individuals on the Southwest border than we have in the last 20 years.’ Those sky-high numbers just count the illegal aliens that Border Patrol and other federal agencies are able to detain. It does not include the ‘got-aways’—those who manage to evade law enforcement and enter the country illegally. This number is likely in the tens of thousands, with an estimated 1,000 or more illegal aliens every day evading detention and entering the U.S. illegally.”
“The Biden administration’s push for mass amnesty is anything but humane. Those in Central and South America are responding to the administration’s actions and policies. They see others arriving at the border and being released into the country. The president’s call for amnesty, and policies allowing more and more illegal aliens into the country, is only encouraging more unaccompanied minors and families to make the dangerous journey to the border in the hopes of receiving this amnesty, creating a humanitarian crisis and a booming business for the drug cartels and human smugglers.
“These vicious organizations are banking profits of $14 million a day, and likely more, from trafficking women, children, and families through Central America and across the border. Many of these women and children suffer from horrific abuse, malnourishment, exposure, and sickness along the route, and others are left to die in the wilderness if they get lost or can’t keep up. The large numbers of people surging to the border are a serious public health risk, and are facilitating the spread of COVID among vulnerable populations, and if individuals don’t catch the virus during the trip, they are likely to do so while packed on top of each other in overcrowded Border Patrol facilities. Children are often kept in these conditions for up to 10 days, because the Border Patrol simply does not have capacity to handle the surge created by the Biden administration’s policies. When they are sent to overflow facilities, the results sometimes prove disastrous, as well.
“Biden’s open-borders agenda is causing untold misery, while enriching the most vicious, bloodthirsty groups in the Western Hemisphere, who will simply continue making more money off that misery as long as the border remains open and our leaders push to give green cards and expedited American citizenship to illegal aliens.”
“Biden’s border crisis is not a resource issue—it’s a policy issue. If the president had stuck with the policies that were in place when he took office, we would not be in the midst of a historic border crisis. However, this president caved to the wishes of his radical base and undid much of the previous administration’s policies out of pure political spite. Now, the president is pushing for a massive amnesty for tens of millions of illegal aliens. Doing so would be the wrong move. Rewarding lawbreaking with all the benefits of American citizenship will only encourage more illegal immigration.
“Constituents of representatives who have voiced support for such amnesty should make their voices heard. Rather than push for a massive amnesty, the administration should finish construction of the border wall, reimplement the Migrant Protection Protocols and asylum cooperative agreements, and immediately untie the hands of ICE officers and allow the agency to deport those here illegally.”
For more information on how to fix America's immigration system: An Agenda for American Immigration Reform