Biden Ignores the Border Crisis He Created At His Political Peril | Opinion

Biden administration officials hoped the summer heat would give them a respite from questions about the illegal immigration crisis the president created, and now publicly ignores. But the latest statistics from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency should remind them that, when you signal that the federal government is no longer interested in enforcing the law at our borders, an ensuing surge of illegal immigration is inevitable. The numbers showed that rather than going down—as usually happens when the intense summer heat makes the already difficult passage from Mexico even more dangerous—arrests at the border reached a 21-year high.

Yet despite the urgent nature of the crisis, the administration continues to do virtually nothing about it. It is constrained in large measure by the antipathy of the Democratic Party base toward enforcement of existing immigration laws, and the president's own clear intention to loosen efforts to stop illegal border crossings and deport those who are in the country illegally. Resuming work on a border wall associated with his predecessor is out of the question. So are efforts to reinforce the beleaguered Border Patrol or to unleash the Immigration and Customs Enforcement to do its job.

Indeed, the Biden administration has been quietly rooting for the courts to reinstate orders issued by former president Donald Trump that made it harder to exploit the asylum application process to get into the country.

While it talks about addressing root causes of the immigration problem, the White House knows that no possible amount of aid to Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador will persuade the people of those impoverished countries that entering the United States isn't worth gambling their lives and the lives of their children. And since Biden and his party remain hellbent on slipping an immigration reform package—which includes a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and gives short shrift to border security—into their massive budget bill, messages urging migrants not to come aren't persuading many.

That leaves administration officials with a growing problem that they, as Democrats, have no politically acceptable means of addressing. Yet the White House seems to think there is no cost in letting the problem fester. It's easy enough to see why—the fiasco in Afghanistan has dominated news cycles in recent weeks, and although Republicans continue to sound the alarm about what is happening at the border, the mainstream press continues to either ignore or downplay a crisis that Democrats prefer to deny.

But Biden and his policy advisers would be foolish to think they can afford to neglect illegal immigration as an issue. That's not just because the surge is causing havoc and alienating voters in border states, including Hispanic citizens who fear crime and other social pathologies associated with illegal immigration just as much as anyone else. Rather, by allowing the population of illegal immigrants to grow even more—the popular 11 million figure is likely a drastic underestimate—Biden's amnesty plans appear to be an attempt to create more voters for the Democrats.

U.S. border patrol agent
A United States Border Patrol Agent on horseback searches for a migrant that crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in Sunland Park, New Mexico on September 9, 2021. PAUL RATJE / AFP/Getty Images

The administration is right to think that, as a general rule, the public regards immigrants with sympathy. But it is wrong to ignore the collapsing rule of law at the border, as GOP rhetoric about Biden wanting "open borders" is starting to look more like an accurate assessment than a partisan talking point.

The fact that nearly 200,000 were apprehended at the border in July—along with what is likely to be an even more staggering figure of those who were not caught—makes clear that the surge that began after the 2020 election is not only not subsiding but gaining momentum.

The implications of this problem aren't limited to concerns about the porous nature of the border or the growing population of illegal immigrants residing in the United States. It's also a humanitarian catastrophe, as resources available to federal authorities to deal with those in custody are barely adequate to the task while those waiting across the border in Mexico are living in utter squalor. Just as disturbing is the growing number of bodies found of those who perished in the course of unsuccessful attempts to evade border patrol—many succumbed to the elements or were simply left behind to die by exploitative coyotes who don't bother with those who fail to keep up.

The administration appears indifferent to the question of whether the tide of illegal immigration is contributing to the current spread of the coronavirus pandemic, which state and federal officials are struggling to contain. Liberals insist that, contrary to logic, the flow of a considerable—and largely unvaccinated—population hasn't worsened the impact of the disease. Meanwhile, President Biden is assuming new, constitutionally unfounded powers to mandate vaccinations for both public- and private-sector workers (with some significant, politically motivated possible exceptions like postal workers). But the fact he isn't ordering that those who are apprehended at the border be vaccinated suggests, once again, Democrats regard illegal immigrants as a group to whom all sorts of exemptions must be applied.

Biden set off this problem with his own ill-considered remarks about a "more humane" policy. His posturing provoked a post-Election Day surge of border crossings from those who concluded, not unreasonably, that his administration was flashing a welcome sign to anyone who hadn't gone through the process of gaining legal entry to the United States. But though the president has sought to backtrack from that promise, the amnesty proposals he unveiled in his first days of office, and his continuing efforts to implement them, haven't slowed the wave of illegal immigration.

As with so much else he has done in his first months in office, Biden is stubbornly proceeding as if there is no need to address the consequences of his own remarks and actions. Neither he nor White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki will call what is happening a crisis, but that doesn't mean it isn't one. For an administration that came into office promising both honesty and competence, the non-response to illegal immigration is revealing that Biden will provide neither.

Jonathan S. Tobin is editor in chief of JNS.org, a senior contributor to The Federalist and a columnist for the New York Post. Follow him on Twitter at: @jonathans_tobin.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.