Biden's Nuclear Submarine Announcement Puts Him in Awkward Situation

President Joe Biden will travel to San Diego Monday afternoon to announce a ground-breaking agreement with the leaders of Australia and Great Britain to develop fleets of nuclear-powered attack submarines to strengthen the three countries' naval superiority across the Asia-Pacific region as a bulwark to China's increasingly powerful navy.

Arguably, the timing could not be worse.

As Biden prepared for his trip over the weekend, the U.S Coast Guard suspended its search for a number of missing migrants after a pair of smuggling boats capsized off California's southern coast, leaving at least eight dead and seven missing in what one local official described as "one of the worst maritime smuggling tragedies" the city and state of California had ever seen.

The news comes amid spiking numbers in illegal border crossings and high-profile migrant deaths that have heightened scrutiny of the Biden administration's immigration policies.

Joe Biden in San Diego
President Joe Biden (inset) is pictured here with the border wall where it crosses the beach as it ends in the Pacific Ocean along the US-Mexico border between San Diego and Tijuana on May 10, 2021, at International Friendship Park in San Diego County, California. Leon Neal/Getty Images

A February U.S Customs and Border Patrol report examining migrant deaths between 2017 and 2021 reported agents found a then record-breaking 568 migrants' remains in 2021—double the number found in the final year of President Donald Trump's administration.

And those numbers are increasing: According to an October report by CBS News, the agency discovered the remains of 853 dead migrants in 2022 amid a record-breaking number of undocumented migrant crossings at the U.S. Southern Border.

While Texas has remained the focal point of the crisis, the migrant crisis in San Diego and Southern California has grown increasingly precarious throughout the spike in crossings.

According to November data from the Mexican Consulate in San Diego last fall, at least 46 Mexican nationals died in their attempt to cross the border between the Tijuana region and nearby San Diego between October 2021 and September 2022, a sizable increase from the 34 reported in the previous 12 months and the 11 the region saw in 2019.

Meanwhile, in late February, U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz tweeted that agents in the San Diego sector located approximately 75 miles inland seized 232 pounds of the deadly drug fentanyl amid concerns of an escalating illicit drug trade through the southern border.

It is unclear whether Biden intends to address the recent migrant deaths or his border policy on the San Diego visit. However, his administration has been taking a more aggressive posture on the border in efforts to stem the crisis—occasionally at the expense of angering some within his base.

Ahead of the anticipated end of the Trump-era Title 42 policy on May 11—which allowed U.S. officials to turn away migrants at the border under the guise of preventing the spread of COVID-19—Biden's administration has reportedly been working to roll out plans to enlist additional restrictions on many migrants' access to asylum.

These include a so-called "transit ban" that would bar migrants from applying for asylum unless they were denied elsewhere or had already applied, plans to detain migrants and their families who cross the border illegally, and a policy change to allow the rapid adjudication of asylum cases.

Newsweek has reached out to the White House for comment.