X Close

The cruelty of Biden’s border policy Progressive compassion is costing lives

Who's fault is it? (Qian Weizhong/VCG via Getty Images)

Who's fault is it? (Qian Weizhong/VCG via Getty Images)


August 10, 2022   5 mins

When it comes to “open borders”, Joe Biden has gone as far as a President can go without actually abolishing them. This June alone, US Customs and Border Protection apprehended more than 200,000 people at the southern border, leading Republican Texas governor Greg Abbott to bus migrants to Washington D.C. and New York, liberal “sanctuary cities” whose police departments don’t cooperate with federal immigration officials.

Such progressive posturing may soon run out of steam: faced with a looming humanitarian crisis, the Democratic mayors of both cities, Eric Adams of New York and Muriel Bowser of D.C., are now begging the federal government for assistance.

Yet perhaps the most surprising element of all this chaos is the way the media have blamed the Right for this crisis. “Cold-Blooded Texas Guv Vows to Dump Asylum Seekers in the Middle of D.C.,” was how the Daily Beast covered the story. “GOP Governors Cause Havoc by Busing Migrants to the East Coast,” explained the New York Times. White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre called Abbott’s policy “shameful” and a “political ploy”.

The migrants themselves, however, are under no illusions about who deserves credit for their arrival in the US. “Biden promised us that everything was going to change,” one migrant told reporters back in March. “He promised the Haitian community he will help them,” a Haitian migrant told Fox News. “I just need [the US] to tell me when we can cross,” a Honduran woman told Politico.

Where did millions of migrants get the idea that Biden had invited them in? From Biden himself, naturally. During the 2020 primary debates, then-candidate Biden said that migrants illegally crossing the border should not be detained, and like nearly every other candidate on the debate stage, he said he would decriminalise illegal border crossing. Millions of migrants were listening, along with the human traffickers who extort, torture, rape and kill them.

And Biden has more or less followed through as President. From Day One, he stopped construction of a border wall with Mexico, ended President Trump’s travel ban restricting travel from 14 countries, and dramatically reduced deportations — from more than 267,000 in 2019 to just 59,000 in 2021. The Biden administration also vowed to end Title 42, a Trump-era restriction that allowed migrants to be turned away due to the pandemic, though a federal judge in Louisiana has for now blocked Biden’s attempts to end the policy. Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security said this week that it plans to end another effective Trump-era program, Remain in Mexico, which allowed border agents to turn migrants away and have them wait in Mexico until their removal hearings.”

What’s most peculiar about all this is how the administration’s de facto open-border policy represents a remarkable U-turn on the Left. Until very recently, free-market Republicans were the ones pushing for things like amnesty and easy access to migrant labour, while the Democrats were on the side of limiting immigration. Back in the Nineties, Barbara Jordan, the first black woman from the South elected to Congress and Democrat Chair of the US Commission on Immigration Reform, wrote that the commission found “no national interest in continuing to import lesser skilled and unskilled workers to compete in the most vulnerable parts of our labour force”.

“Open borders? No, that’s a Koch Brothers proposal,” socialist Senator Bernie Sanders scoffed as recently as 2015. “What Right-wing people in this country would love is an open-border policy. Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour, that would be great for them. I don’t believe in that.” Fast forward to that 2020 primary debate and Sanders, just like Biden, said he would support decriminalising illegal border crossing.

This reversal is especially surprising given that the Democrats’ base — or what used to be their base — agrees more with Bernie 2015 than Bernie 2020. In 2019, a large majority of black and Hispanic Americans said they would vote for a presidential candidate who stood for strengthening border security to reduce illegal immigration. This shouldn’t be surprising: Illegal immigration has been tied to a 20-60% decrease in black working-class wages. Another recent study suggested that immigration accounts for a third of the decline in the black employment rate over the last 40 years. “Black Americans are more supportive of limiting immigration than any other bloc of the Democratic coalition,” the sociologist Musa al Gharbi reported. “And Hispanics actually tend to be more concerned about illegal immigration than are whites or Blacks.”

Why did the Democrats abandon these voters? Many who support mass immigration do so ostensibly because of the overall effect on GDP, which is positive. But they tend not to ask, positive for whom? As the economist George Borjas has argued, immigration primarily boosts the incomes of the immigrants themselves, while redistributing wealth from the native poor to the native rich. In other words, among Americans, it is the elites who benefit from open borders, people whose professional-class jobs would never be threatened by someone who doesn’t speak English. For the American working classes, good jobs are sacrificed on the altar of helping those from other countries.

Point this out and you can count on a member of the Squad to call you racist — a ridiculous accusation given who has paid the highest price for mass immigration. “The history of citizenship in the US is deeply woven with the history of racism,” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said back in 2019. “It has been used as the legal enforcer of racism for most of US history.” When Vice President Kamala Harris told would-be migrants to stay home, Ilhan Omar tweeted: “We should not abandon our values and rights to far-Right white nationalists.”

But these accusations of bigotry hide a class divide that has seen the Democrats choose educated white elites over the working class again and again. Remember that immigrants make up nearly 50% of America’s household servants, 42% of taxi drivers and chauffeurs, and 35% of grounds maintenance workers. It is these migrants’ employers, not the migrants themselves, who are the target audience for Democrats’ “anti-racist” moralising.

Of course, many of these progressives also have compassion for migrants crossing the border in search of a better life. I do, too. It’s impossible not to feel for people seeking a better life for their children. But what about America’s own struggling workers? Why no compassion for them? Like so much of what passes for political debate in America in 2022, the fight between Governor Abbott and Mayors Adams and Bowser is less about values and more about interests. Big-city Democrats want to flatter the moral vanity of their elite base by rhetorically supporting illegal immigration, but only so long as border states such as Texas and Arizona are the ones who foot the bill.

Moreover, the “compassionate” approach is incentivising truly dangerous behaviours, leading to parents drowning in the Rio Grande with their infants and to children riding La Bestia migrant train and watching as others fall off to their deaths. A third of women who make the trip across the border admit to being sexually abused, and nearly everyone is preyed upon in some way by the powerful cartels that now effectively control the border. Trump may have gone too far with his family separation policy, but his relentless approach to the border ended up preventing a lot of suffering, both to would-be migrants and to American workers. Since the start of 2022, authorities have found 609 bodies on the border, a record high that doesn’t even include those discovered further north in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

Some of these deaths made headlines, such as the 50 migrants who perished in the back of an abandoned truck in south Texas earlier this year, or the migrant from Nicaragua who drowned crossing the Rio Grande in May, or the 22-year-old who drowned in April. But most of these tragic and totally preventable deaths go unnoticed.

This is Leftist compassion curdled into cruelty. And it’s not Governor Abbott’s fault — it’s President Biden’s.


Batya Ungar-Sargon is Deputy Opinion Editor of Newsweek and author of Bad News: How Woke Media Is Undermining Democracy

bungarsargon

Join the discussion


Rejoignez des lecteurs partageant les mĂȘmes idĂ©es qui soutiennent notre journalisme en devenant abonnĂ©s payants.

Subscribe

To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

15 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
1 year ago

I was volunteering with homeless people in downtown Austin during the protests against Trump’s immigration policies. Every week, I saw people with dementia, head injuries, and psychosis sleeping in their own feces under the 6th street bridge. I saw mentally ill women being trafficked behind dumpsters (some economically privileged men “get off” on the depravity of street prostitution – it’s considered a “kink” that should not be shamed. Grrrr..). Yet I saw no one protest on behalf of those who were suffering right on their own doorsteps.
I begged the downtown churches to offer their sanctuaries to the city as spaces where homeless women could be sheltered at night (homeless women are raped multiple times a year, and “disappear” with horrific regularity). The churches refused, even though their large buildings sit empty every single night while homeless women – many of them elderly – suffer and die outside their doors.
These same churches, who refused to provide sanctuary to their disabled neighbors, put up big signs advertising their support for immigrants and sanctuary cities for undocumented people. Their hypocrisy made me choke.
To the “woke”, poor people in the USA are not worthy victims – especially poor people who are white and conservative (almost all of the homeless people I worked with, including black, hispanic,and native american homeless people, were deeply religious and expressed fervent support for Trump).
The “woke” only care about attractive victims, not victims they can actually see, hear, and smell.
That’s why the “woke” care so much more about historical slavery than they do about the modern day slavery (sex trafficking) happening right under their noses: historical slaves only exist in books and movies, so they all smell sweet, have perfect teeth, and are visually appealing. Modern day trafficking victims have bad breath, broken teeth, severe addictions, inconvenient opinions, and horrific body odor. Who wants to help THOSE people? It’s easier to just shrug them off and say “sex work is work”.
Anyway, thank you for expressing concern for the poor and working class in the USA, and not sacrificing their interests to serve your own ego, as the “woke” love to do.

J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

Great comment.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

You are quite right to highlight the hypocrisy of those proclaiming their compassion but refusing to help those actually suffering and in danger. The problem, of course, is that those you describe so eloquently are both unappealing in the flesh and chaotic in their behaviour.

No doubt the Churches saw that taking the humane step to let the homeless women in would require them to control and supervise a process that could turn ugly with an influx of those wishing to exploit the women together with potential legal responsibilities.

Compassion in former times often involved rigorous control and restrictions on those who were the object of compassion. Today the liberal mindset is not willing to undertake such essentially authoritarian but necessary measures to protect and preserve order among the afflicted but prefers like Pontius Pilate to wash their hands of such processes. Hence the increasing chaos on the streets of Democratic cities.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jeremy Bray
Katy Hibbert
Katy Hibbert
1 year ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

That’s why the “woke” care so much more about historical slavery than they do about the modern day slavery (sex trafficking) happening right under their noses

In the case of UN virtue-signallers, they’re probably using the trafficked.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
1 year ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

Agree with J Bryant, great comment.

The thing is, though, they don’t actually care about any *individual* people, at all. They care about the idea of victims that they have have formed *in their own heads*. So it’s very much a form of solipsism, or selfishness, or lack of empathy; that is, that one’s ideas and perceptions of the world matter more than the actual reality of what is happening to real individual humans in the real world.

But what all of us – “woke” or whatever the opposite of that is – need to keep to the front of our minds is that the “they” that I refer to is actually an “us”; that we all can and do partake in this egotistic othering; that he who commits no sin shall cast the first stone; and that there is absolutely no use, truth, justice, love, or beauty in getting ourselves trapped in a false-binary culture war. Doing so only aids and abets the tiny minority of sociopaths who want to control us, just for the sake of it. I know that you were not advocating that but I just wanted to say it.

Gandydancer x
Gandydancer x
1 year ago

“Trump may have gone too far with his family separation policy…”
the “family separation policy” wasn’t Trump’s, but was the creation of Democrat kritarch Dolly Gee.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  Gandydancer x

Yes, and the images of the ‘kids in cages’ were taken during the Obama administration. There is no end to the duplicity of the media and the gullibility of most people. That said, only 11% of Americans now trust the TV news, so they are waking up.

Rafael Aguilo
Rafael Aguilo
1 year ago

“Big-city Democrats want to flatter the moral vanity of their elite base by rhetorically supporting illegal immigration, but only so long as border states such as Texas and Arizona are the ones who foot the bill.”
This about encapsulates the whole enchilada.

Douglas H
Douglas H
1 year ago

Good article. This is simple economics and Labour arbitrage — importing poor people to do indigenous poor people’s jobs is going to benefit 
 exactly who?

The exception is jobs local people do not want to do, but even there the issue is more about why they don’t want to do them: i.e. it’s about how attractive these jobs are financially. Importing desperate poor workers keeps those jobs low paid and unattractive.

Katy Hibbert
Katy Hibbert
1 year ago

Trump may have gone too far with his family separation policy,

Started by Obama, as were the “cages” for children.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago

So, left and right in the US are both anti-immigration, in effect. A rare point of national unity

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

No….. You seem to have entirely missed the point of this article. The current ‘identitarian’ Left who dominate the Democratic Party do not believe in any border control at all – the real (as opposed to the stated) reason being that this policy helps the privileged ‘progressive’ wealthy classes.

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
1 year ago

“Big city democrats want to flatter the moral vanity of their elite base by rhetorically supporting illegal immigration.”

Bingo! The unholy alliance of big corporations and the upper middle class social justice warriors creates a fertile ground for mass illegal immigration. And their activists in the ranks of MSM insure that any dissenting voices are named, shamed and blamed for any migrant misfortunes.

Fred Paul
Fred Paul
1 year ago

I’ve lived in the States for 33 years. I’ve returned to Canada for the summer. It’s different up here.
The article is not one of the most critical thinking pieces I have read. Let’s start with the law. Biden doesn’t create them. Neither did Trump. It’s a legislative function. Whatever Trump did, it’s gone back to normal. Normal is the laws in place now. If America thinks the laws are antiquated to stem the tide of illegal immigration (I used the legal route), then change the laws… or enforce them.
Illegal immigration is a result of Americans offering to hire them illegally. There are laws against that, and they are not enforced. Cut the reason for illegal immigration, and you stop it.
Illegal immigration is not a felony. At best, a minor misdemeanour. And there’s only one federal department with the power to enforce them. Local police departments do not have the power to hold someone who is an illegal immigrant. So, most work up a stupid charge to hold them until the feds show up. That is illegal. And the cities that enforce the law are called what? Before you challenge me on this, google it in the right places. That’s part of critical thinking.
The article implies that these illegals are huddled together somewhere south of the border, listening to every word that Biden says for clues to cross the border. Really? Most Americans under the age of 28 don’t listen to the news and haven’t the foggiest idea about what’s going on. This is what’s going on. There’s a lot of misery, and grief south of the border and people are dying. There are rumours floating around, and we know all to well about rumours in the States, that offer a better life if they cross that border. If you were in their shoes, would you do differently? If you were a criminal, would you not take advantage? Be real.
I could go on, but I think you got the idea. And I can bet that most of you who are caught up in this American First idea have stopped reading. But what did happen to that wall? After four years, it’s not the wall expected. And who was going to pay for it? And how about draining the swamp? You people are looking for shortcuts. It’s not going to happen. My wife attended a wedding in New England and, on her return to Canada this week (she’s American), was challenged twice by Canadian customs reminding her she has only 6 months in Canada a year. For Pete sakes, we own a house up here; I’m Canadian and pay taxes. Believe me, she knows. Turns out, a lot of Americans visiting are not returning to the States. I guess we need to build a better wall.

Last edited 1 year ago by Fred Paul
Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago
Reply to  Fred Paul

Please do, and keep your smug racism in Canada.