What would "restoring normalcy" at the border look like? Americans in border towns would like to see local cross-border travel resume, with people coming through ports of entry (rather than cutting through farms and ranches) and leaving at their appointed time. They would like to grow unaccustomed to high-speed chases through school zones. They would like to feel heard.
Most voters across the country would be happy to see the blue line below drop down to close to zero (the legal limit for illegal immigration is zero, after all).
By that measure, Biden has so far failed to deliver on his promise. But if you look at the orange line, you can see that Trump faced a similar challenge in 2019 until put measures in place to bring the numbers back down — measures Biden ill-advisedly overturned.
Immigration continues to be the achilles heel of President Biden's approval ratings, and public confidence in his handling of the border continues to decline, even as polls show that most voters underestimate the extent of the crisis.
Biden successfully ran on a promise to restore normalcy, but a majority of registered voters now want him to restore many of the previous administration's border policies. Most of Biden's actions, by contrast, are aimed at accommodating the increasing numbers, not bringing them down. To the Biden administration, the spiking apprehension numbers aren't a crisis. The "challenge," in their view, is how to process them. In light of Biden cancelling cooperative asylum agreements with Central American countries and the "Remain In Mexico" program, you might even say that his goal is to keep the numbers high, but to bring them into the U.S. in a more orderly fashion.
The Washington Examiner editorial board says the "Remain In Mexico" program established a simple and effective rule:
If you show up at the U.S.-Mexico border seeking asylum, you will get your day in court — but you must wait for it in Mexico. The effect: a huge drop in the number of families showing up at the southern border claiming asylum. Because most of those requesting asylum lacked meritorious claims, the number of people desiring to come and actually wait to get a trial was considerably smaller than the number who had been gaming the system when an asylum claim meant automatic entry to the U.S.
Biden has switched the magnet back on.
The administration's prediction that the border surge would decline with the onset of summer has not yet come to pass, and the numbers of unaccompanied minors is once again on the rise, along with the number of migrant rescues, and deaths.
But while smuggling deaths are up, prosecutions of smugglers have declined. Some smugglers now openly mock the agents who arrest them, knowing they will likely not be prosecuted if it is their first or second offense. Other smugglers are taking increasingly reckless actions to avoid capture.
Todd Bensmen and Andrew R. Arthur report that "agents at the Southwest border are under orders not to arrest smugglers ferrying migrants entering the United States illegally.
Stephen Dinan reports that the smuggling business is soaring, with one smuggler making $200,000 by "working" just two days a week over 10 months.
Joseph Chamie says the U.S. has "adopted a de facto policy of not repatriating settled unauthorized migrants" which, combined with periodic promises of amnesty, makes the smugglers' pitch much easier to sell.
And now, Congress is considering another amnesty that, according to The Hill, could leave few, if any, undocumented immigrants without a shot at legalization. Ka-ching!
John Daniel Davidson tries to decipher what the Biden administration means when they say want to rebuild the immigration system:
What Biden wants is a return to the status quo, which means letting in almost anyone who claims asylum, however flimsy their case might be. The border crisis triggered in 2019 happened largely because Central American families were exploiting a loophole in US asylum law that allows asylum-seekers to be released into the US pending the outcome of their case. These cases take years to adjudicate, which means that anyone who crossed the border with a child could claim asylum and be released within a few days. It was a huge incentive, and it drew people from all over the world.
Now the incentives are back, bringing near-record numbers of migrants to the border.
Rep. Cuellar says Biden and Harris "have to show that they can stop some of the flow coming in, because if we look at the root problems, corruption, crime and all that, that's going to take years. But we have to show a way that we can slow down the number of people coming in from Central America."
Vice President Harris at least paid lip service to Cuellar's idea when she travelled to Central America to say "Do not come," but in the last month the Biden administration granted ICE attorneys broader latitude to drop deportation cases than they had under the Obama administration (when the odds of a "run-of-the-mill" illegal alien dropped to "close to zero"), converted a program established to assist victims of immigration crime to a program designed to help illegal aliens get work permits, and expanded asylum eligibility to include victims of domestic or gang violence.
Former Congressman Tom Campbell looks critically at the Biden administration's decision to expand asylum eligibility and says "Congress should reassert its responsibility of deciding how many immigrants our country wants to admit overall, rather than allowing different administrations to twist the meaning of 'particular social group' so that immigrants can be made to fit into or be excluded from that limitless category."
Meanwhile, Dinan reports that a "Homeland Security-backed study has found that it's unlikely Central American countries can boost their economies enough to stop people from trying to migrate to the U.S."
Gary Wockner says the $4 billion Biden has promised Central America over four years is a "drop in the bucket" compared to the $84 billion migrants send back from the United States over the same period.
"What pushes people out of Central America is poverty," Wockner says, "what pulls those people to the U.S. is the promise of jobs and money. Biden's $1 billion a year won't stop the push, and as long as Biden allows people to illegally immigrate and work in the U.S., he's not stopping the pull."
For decades now, administrations and Congresses of both parties have declined to crack down on illegal hiring. Sadly, that's what "normal" means to politicians in Washington. With Congress attempting to slip an expansive amnesty into the budget reconciliation process, they are throwing their weight behind a new normal: wink-wink at illegal employment and guarantee employers they won't have to recruit, train, or retain domestic workers by providing a steady supply of cheap exploitable alternatives, who - once legalized - will be replaced by the next wave, courtesy of de-facto coordination between cartels, human smugglers, and the U.S. government.
JEREMY BECK is the Director of the Sustainability Initiative for NumbersUSA
Updated: Fri, Jul 16th 2021 @ 4:32pm EDT