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Biden’s false border victory Scrapping Title 42 was a smokescreen

(Credit: John Moore/Getty)


May 18, 2023   4 mins

One has to admire the chutzpah of Kamala Harris. Less than 24 hours after Title 42 expired, there she was, merrily clinking glasses at a Democratic Party soirĂ©e in a wealthy Atlanta suburb. When a journalist asked about the possible fall-out from the termination of Trump’s pandemic policy, which swiftly turned back immigrants at the border, she was typically nonchalant. “I hear that everything in the last couple of days is going rather smoothly,” she replied. There was no mention of the 30 migrants who had been bussed to her home in Washington DC from Texas the evening before; nor of the deep misgivings expressed by officials who work on the border. Everything, you see, was going “smoothly”. Nothing to see here.

In Delaware the following day, Joe Biden did his best to keep up the act, opting to go for a bike ride near his beach house. When he bumped into a gaggle of reporters, he broke into a laugh and told them that post-Title 42 America is clearly “much better than you all expected”. Everything was still going smoothly. Nothing to see here.

To some extent, Biden and Harris can be forgiven for displaying a certain level of self-satisfaction. Today marks one week since Title 42 expired, and the expected surge of migrants is yet to materialise. Quite the opposite, in fact. The number of illegal crossings seems to have dropped; short-term bed capacity appears to be increasing; the country’s southern borderlands have not descended into anarchy. As the media has enjoyed pointing out, America’s immigration crisis appears to be waning.

Except, I suspect, it isn’t. Overshadowed by the gleeful coverage in recent days was one story that, more than any other, hints at the chaos to come. On Friday, footage from the Central Processing Center in El Paso showed an alarming level of overcrowding. The site, according to Texas Congressman Tony Gonzalez, has a maximum capacity of 1,000 migrants; on Friday, there were 6,000.

This hardly came as a surprise to those, such as Gonzalez, for whom the border crisis is a matter of everyday politics. America’s immigration numbers have been soaring for months: as of Friday morning, the Border Force had more than 24,000 migrants in custody — twice the average daily number last November.

The more significant problem here, however, is more complex than a straightforward numbers game — and it extends beyond the practicalities of the border issue. Of course, stories abound of governmental and administrative failure on either side of America’s crossing with Mexico. There’s the smartphone app required to apply for asylum that often doesn’t work, the arbitrary nature of the decisions over who is allowed through, and the inhumane conditions that plague so many migrant centres.

But the real failure of America’s immigration system only becomes apparent once those hurdles are cleared. When an illegal migrant is detained in the US, they have to appear before an immigration court before they can be deported. And at present, the average waiting time between an arrival and the issuing of a “Notice to Appear” before a judge at one of the country’s 66 immigration courts is four and a half years. As Art Arthur, a former immigration judge, recently put it, the system is “well past broken”.

So in terms of remedying the greater problem — of the administrative dysfunction that underscores the entire system — the recent reduction in numbers change nothing. As a recent investigation by RealClear revealed, it doesn’t take much to overwhelm the current programme. In Atlanta, there is a four-year waiting time for just 1,757 people; Baltimore’s court is “mostly booked” with fewer than 3,500 cases.

And even if these backlogs were miraculously cleared, it is uncertain whether terminating Title 42 will stem the future flow. According to federal records, ICE had already eased off using it in the months before it expired: in the second half of 2022, a monthly average of just 4,000 migrants were expelled under the programme. Overall immigration continued to increase and America’s creaking system continued to flounder. In other words, scrapping Title 42 was a smokescreen — a distraction that provided cover for a failing political class that has given up solving a decades-old problem.

Nor is this incapacity unique to America — if anything, it is a feature of almost every modern Western democracy with high levels of immigration. Last year, for instance, an unprecedented surge saw Canada’s population increase by one million for the first time. Next week, it looks to be the turn of the United Kingdom, with a government report set to show migration doubled last year.

The case of the UK is particularly instructive, not least because “being tough on immigration” has frequently been viewed as a vote-winner for the Conservative Party, especially since Brexit. Even today, the country generally views levels as too high. It has been striking, then, to watch the British Right attempt to explain away the current crisis at its first National Conservatism conference this week.

During her keynote speech, home secretary Suella Braverman failed to address whether the dramatic rise in 2022 might have something to do with her own party’s inability to devise a successful immigration policy during the 13 years that it has been in power. Instead, she suggested that British workers should be trained to fill shortages among occupations such as lorry drivers and fruit pickers.

If that seems like an obvious alternative to importing foreign labour, that’s because it is: in 2020, the Conservative Government launched a campaign to recruit more UK-based workers for seasonal farm roles — but the programme was scrapped a year later after too few people signed up. Braverman’s proposal has been tried and failed. Just as with Biden and Harris, the poverty of imagination is astounding: in America, they hail the expiration of a mediocre immigration policy as a victory; in the UK, they simply recycle rejected ones.

In the coming weeks, it is not inconceivable that Britain and America’s immigration crises will be framed as polar opposites. On one side of the Atlantic, a smiling Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will assure voters that the immigration crisis is over; on the other, Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman will try to convince voters that their glossy “new” policies will make sure it is over soon. But for all the optics, the truth is that both sets of leaders find themselves in a similar situation. With an election year coming, they each sit proudly atop two creaking immigration systems that they are unable to fix but will have to defend against a fired-up opposition. Perhaps then it will finally become clear that everything isn’t going smoothly.


Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an UnHerd columnist. She is also the Founder of the AHA Foundation, and host of The Ayaan Hirsi Ali Podcast. Her Substack is called Restoration.

Ayaan

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Nell Clover
Nell Clover
1 year ago

“given up solving”
“unable to fix”

Has it ever crossed the mind of the author that the high levels of immigration are intentional?

Whilst illegal immigration captures the headlines, in the background legal immigration to the UK is at a record level and is far greater than illegal immigration. Visas are being handed out for low skill, low paid jobs. High immigration is the plan.

If high immigration is the plan, then endless arguments about illegal immigration is a great distraction from the far larger issue of planned high legal immigration.

But how could a plan so at odds with public opinion have been implemented and sustained through 5 general elections, 7 PMs, and the entire apparatus of the state? Surely such a huge conspiracy would be impossible to orchestrate?

The truth is no orchestration is needed. There are so many unrelated special interest groups that benefit from high immigration. Often these groups violently oppose one another on most topics, but not immigration. Whilst the individual groups are tiny minorities, the agenda of their influencers converge on a common desire for high immigration:
– The empathetic want immigration to help people.
– The politicians want immigration for the new voters.
– The radicals want immigration to transform society.
– The anarchists want immigration to destroy society.
– The mandarins want immigration to stabilise the demographics.
– The intelligence services want immigration to increase cultural links for future intelligence sources.
– The Foreign Office wants immigration to buy influence over origin countries.
– The Treasury wants immigration to boost GDP and so underpin future liabilities.
– The globalists want immigration to diminish national borders to create supranational systems of regulation.
– The authoritarians want immigration to undermine societal cohesiveness and create a popular demand for more surveillance.
– The net zeroists want immigration to provide labour to replace energy.
– The international socialists want immigration to narrow global inequality.
– Etc, etc, etc.

So what of democracy? Well, a large minority of voters belong to one or more of the groups on the list above. For the larger majority, they view politics as filled up with chancers and they have turned away in a vicious cycle. Material wealth first kept ordinary people sufficiently satisfied to not bother with politics. Risk of losing that material wealth now keeps ordinary people out of politics. Only the most ideologically driven and the empty suits are left in politics, people either on the list above or willing to do anything for the patronage of the people on the list above. Consequently democracy will not bring about change. High immigration is here to stay whether the public want it or not.

The political wheel will inevitably turn. High immigration will end one day, but not in my lifetime. And it won’t end because of a political decision or because of a lack of people. High immigration will end when the pull of the West ends. Since most of the globe shows no signs of quickly catching up with the West, the pull only ends when the quality of life in the West falls to an equilibrium with Africa, and that will happen thanks to unsustainably high population density. Ironically, the ultimate solution to the problem of high immigration will be high immigration, but not before what we have today has passed into history.

Last edited 1 year ago by Nell Clover
N Satori
N Satori
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Thanks for that comment – bleak but brilliant.
What will our mass migration apologists/enthusiasts have to say for themselves when the West is dragged down to third-world levels of corruption, incompetence, depravity and criminality? I suspect that we in the West will be given the blame for not defending our values.

Simon South
Simon South
1 year ago
Reply to  N Satori

“WHEN the west is dragged down to third world levels of corruption?” Aren’t we there already? I do admire an optimist

Last edited 1 year ago by Simon South
Michelle Perez
Michelle Perez
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon South

I live in NYC. We are there.

Magdalena Algarin
Magdalena Algarin
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon South

It will get worse that it is now : and you will be hoppy.

Last edited 1 year ago by Magdalena Algarin
N Satori
N Satori
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon South

Like the man said: “You ain’t seen nuthin yet!”
We still have a long way to go (downwards) – otherwise the exodus from those poverty stricken states would not be increasing year on year.

Michelle Perez
Michelle Perez
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon South

I live in NYC. We are there.

Magdalena Algarin
Magdalena Algarin
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon South

It will get worse that it is now : and you will be hoppy.

Last edited 1 year ago by Magdalena Algarin
N Satori
N Satori
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon South

Like the man said: “You ain’t seen nuthin yet!”
We still have a long way to go (downwards) – otherwise the exodus from those poverty stricken states would not be increasing year on year.

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago
Reply to  N Satori

Of course that is already happening.
Uncontrolled immigration holds down wages and inflates property prices.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
1 year ago
Reply to  N Satori

Read Camp of the Saints to find out. If you can find a copy, since the English language “publisher” refuses to republish it.

N Satori
N Satori
1 year ago

You’re right. That legendary book is very scarce in English translation. I located a second hand copy on Amazon’s German website but at 187 Euros it’s much too pricey for me.

N Satori
N Satori
1 year ago

Update: managed to find the book in pdf format. Will read in due course.

N Satori
N Satori
1 year ago

You’re right. That legendary book is very scarce in English translation. I located a second hand copy on Amazon’s German website but at 187 Euros it’s much too pricey for me.

N Satori
N Satori
1 year ago

Update: managed to find the book in pdf format. Will read in due course.

Cristina Bodor
Cristina Bodor
1 year ago
Reply to  N Satori

They might not need to lay blame, goal of generalized poverty having been accomplished. Imagine finally living ruled by satisfied elites

Simon South
Simon South
1 year ago
Reply to  N Satori

“WHEN the west is dragged down to third world levels of corruption?” Aren’t we there already? I do admire an optimist

Last edited 1 year ago by Simon South
Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago
Reply to  N Satori

Of course that is already happening.
Uncontrolled immigration holds down wages and inflates property prices.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
1 year ago
Reply to  N Satori

Read Camp of the Saints to find out. If you can find a copy, since the English language “publisher” refuses to republish it.

Cristina Bodor
Cristina Bodor
1 year ago
Reply to  N Satori

They might not need to lay blame, goal of generalized poverty having been accomplished. Imagine finally living ruled by satisfied elites

Magdalena Algarin
Magdalena Algarin
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Could you explain your last statement to a curious – learning mind and late comer to social-political. (the problem being the solution)

Barry Stokes
Barry Stokes
1 year ago

Perhaps it’s a typo….high immigration means high EMMIGRATION ?

Barry Stokes
Barry Stokes
1 year ago

Perhaps it’s a typo….high immigration means high EMMIGRATION ?

D Glover
D Glover
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

– The intelligence services want immigration to increase cultural links for future intelligence sources.

I seriously doubt that. The intelligence community hardly want to have to watch young men who are hostile to the UK, or who could become radicalised.

James Stangl
James Stangl
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

I might disagree with the desire of intelligence services to “increase cultural links” through mass immigration (more terrorism, anyone?) but you’re spot on as to the many stakeholders who want illegal immigration on all points of the political spectrum. In the USA, Democrat leaders want more potential voters who will be dependent upon government largesse. The corporate sector, which used to be aligned with the GOP, wants cheap labor. And globalization loves the erasure of national boundaries and nationalism.

Our border control on the US-Mexico border is a shambles. Biden et al. are either criminally incompetent or actively encouraging the s—t show down there. And what’s most infuriating to me and many other Americans whose families were immigrants once is that LEGAL immigration, with its appropriate controls and legalities, is made a farce by this circus. We know and help a family from South Sudan who waited years to legally come to the USA, and work their tails off to stay off welfare and make a better life for their kids. Where is the justice or equity for folks like them in allowing unchecked illegal migration?

Last edited 1 year ago by James Stangl
Curriculum Matters
Curriculum Matters
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

This. Absolutely spot an analysis. Why would any politician solve a problem that keeps everyone distracted from the real problems. And keeps them in a job. It’s just not in their interest. They must have high house prices and cheap labour. Also the low birthrates in Western countries are a factor. Decades ago when EU workers were living 8 to a house the writing was on the wall. Living standards for all must come down. 3rd world for all! There’s your equality.

N Satori
N Satori
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Thanks for that comment – bleak but brilliant.
What will our mass migration apologists/enthusiasts have to say for themselves when the West is dragged down to third-world levels of corruption, incompetence, depravity and criminality? I suspect that we in the West will be given the blame for not defending our values.

Magdalena Algarin
Magdalena Algarin
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Could you explain your last statement to a curious – learning mind and late comer to social-political. (the problem being the solution)

D Glover
D Glover
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

– The intelligence services want immigration to increase cultural links for future intelligence sources.

I seriously doubt that. The intelligence community hardly want to have to watch young men who are hostile to the UK, or who could become radicalised.

James Stangl
James Stangl
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

I might disagree with the desire of intelligence services to “increase cultural links” through mass immigration (more terrorism, anyone?) but you’re spot on as to the many stakeholders who want illegal immigration on all points of the political spectrum. In the USA, Democrat leaders want more potential voters who will be dependent upon government largesse. The corporate sector, which used to be aligned with the GOP, wants cheap labor. And globalization loves the erasure of national boundaries and nationalism.

Our border control on the US-Mexico border is a shambles. Biden et al. are either criminally incompetent or actively encouraging the s—t show down there. And what’s most infuriating to me and many other Americans whose families were immigrants once is that LEGAL immigration, with its appropriate controls and legalities, is made a farce by this circus. We know and help a family from South Sudan who waited years to legally come to the USA, and work their tails off to stay off welfare and make a better life for their kids. Where is the justice or equity for folks like them in allowing unchecked illegal migration?

Last edited 1 year ago by James Stangl
Curriculum Matters
Curriculum Matters
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

This. Absolutely spot an analysis. Why would any politician solve a problem that keeps everyone distracted from the real problems. And keeps them in a job. It’s just not in their interest. They must have high house prices and cheap labour. Also the low birthrates in Western countries are a factor. Decades ago when EU workers were living 8 to a house the writing was on the wall. Living standards for all must come down. 3rd world for all! There’s your equality.

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
1 year ago

“given up solving”
“unable to fix”

Has it ever crossed the mind of the author that the high levels of immigration are intentional?

Whilst illegal immigration captures the headlines, in the background legal immigration to the UK is at a record level and is far greater than illegal immigration. Visas are being handed out for low skill, low paid jobs. High immigration is the plan.

If high immigration is the plan, then endless arguments about illegal immigration is a great distraction from the far larger issue of planned high legal immigration.

But how could a plan so at odds with public opinion have been implemented and sustained through 5 general elections, 7 PMs, and the entire apparatus of the state? Surely such a huge conspiracy would be impossible to orchestrate?

The truth is no orchestration is needed. There are so many unrelated special interest groups that benefit from high immigration. Often these groups violently oppose one another on most topics, but not immigration. Whilst the individual groups are tiny minorities, the agenda of their influencers converge on a common desire for high immigration:
– The empathetic want immigration to help people.
– The politicians want immigration for the new voters.
– The radicals want immigration to transform society.
– The anarchists want immigration to destroy society.
– The mandarins want immigration to stabilise the demographics.
– The intelligence services want immigration to increase cultural links for future intelligence sources.
– The Foreign Office wants immigration to buy influence over origin countries.
– The Treasury wants immigration to boost GDP and so underpin future liabilities.
– The globalists want immigration to diminish national borders to create supranational systems of regulation.
– The authoritarians want immigration to undermine societal cohesiveness and create a popular demand for more surveillance.
– The net zeroists want immigration to provide labour to replace energy.
– The international socialists want immigration to narrow global inequality.
– Etc, etc, etc.

So what of democracy? Well, a large minority of voters belong to one or more of the groups on the list above. For the larger majority, they view politics as filled up with chancers and they have turned away in a vicious cycle. Material wealth first kept ordinary people sufficiently satisfied to not bother with politics. Risk of losing that material wealth now keeps ordinary people out of politics. Only the most ideologically driven and the empty suits are left in politics, people either on the list above or willing to do anything for the patronage of the people on the list above. Consequently democracy will not bring about change. High immigration is here to stay whether the public want it or not.

The political wheel will inevitably turn. High immigration will end one day, but not in my lifetime. And it won’t end because of a political decision or because of a lack of people. High immigration will end when the pull of the West ends. Since most of the globe shows no signs of quickly catching up with the West, the pull only ends when the quality of life in the West falls to an equilibrium with Africa, and that will happen thanks to unsustainably high population density. Ironically, the ultimate solution to the problem of high immigration will be high immigration, but not before what we have today has passed into history.

Last edited 1 year ago by Nell Clover
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

Why do I still find this stuff shocking? I should never expect govt to implement competent and constructive policies, yet I still do. Regardless of someone’s personal views of immigration, it should all be legal. It shouldn’t be that difficult to make immigrants wait while they are properly processed, whether it be one day or 10 years. If the wait is too long or inconvenient, they can always go home.

Jacqueline Burns
Jacqueline Burns
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Do you mean ALL immigration should be legal? I hope you don’t.
The UK is an island & cannot expand to take all the people who want to come here without turning into a concrete jungle full of very high rise apartment blocks & car parks with no green space at all.
I have no objection to genuine refugees fleeing genuine persecution but that cannot be accepted as a reason when numerous other countries, equally as safe as the UK, have been passed through to get here.
Furthermore, mass migrants of the type which are flooding into the UK do NOT increase GDP if the net cost of those migrants including benefits paid (including housing benefit), education, health provision &, not forgetting pensions, are paid out to those who have never paid a penny into our system. Even if the ‘breadwinner’ of the family gets a job, the tax paid by that person is unlikely go anywhere close to paying for the benefits, as stated above, the whole family will receive in total. Sorry to be blunt but this is an economic fact & it matters not what the race, colour or creed of the family is. Those statistics which used to show that, overall, immigration is a net gain to the UK do not take account of all the above issues &, certainly, do not include any social costs which need to be incurred such as more (affordable) homes needing to be built, more schools, hospitals etc let alone the social cost & disruption to our culture.

Jacqueline Burns
Jacqueline Burns
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Do you mean ALL immigration should be legal? I hope you don’t.
The UK is an island & cannot expand to take all the people who want to come here without turning into a concrete jungle full of very high rise apartment blocks & car parks with no green space at all.
I have no objection to genuine refugees fleeing genuine persecution but that cannot be accepted as a reason when numerous other countries, equally as safe as the UK, have been passed through to get here.
Furthermore, mass migrants of the type which are flooding into the UK do NOT increase GDP if the net cost of those migrants including benefits paid (including housing benefit), education, health provision &, not forgetting pensions, are paid out to those who have never paid a penny into our system. Even if the ‘breadwinner’ of the family gets a job, the tax paid by that person is unlikely go anywhere close to paying for the benefits, as stated above, the whole family will receive in total. Sorry to be blunt but this is an economic fact & it matters not what the race, colour or creed of the family is. Those statistics which used to show that, overall, immigration is a net gain to the UK do not take account of all the above issues &, certainly, do not include any social costs which need to be incurred such as more (affordable) homes needing to be built, more schools, hospitals etc let alone the social cost & disruption to our culture.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

Why do I still find this stuff shocking? I should never expect govt to implement competent and constructive policies, yet I still do. Regardless of someone’s personal views of immigration, it should all be legal. It shouldn’t be that difficult to make immigrants wait while they are properly processed, whether it be one day or 10 years. If the wait is too long or inconvenient, they can always go home.

John Riordan
John Riordan
11 months ago

I can’t speak for the USA, but in the UK the other side of the immigration coin is the welfare available to the UK citizens as a consequence of not taking the low-paid, hard-work jobs that immigrants will come here to do.

I’m not about the start a Colonel Blimp rant about lazy scroungers here (though I think there’s a modest degree of truth to that), my point is more that politically, we simply are not in any place where we can collectively say “on yer bike” to the predominantly younger potential workers in question.

When Norman Tebbit said this 40 years ago, it was in a time and place where the jobs were there if you went to look for them, the career progression was there too, and most importantly the cheap houses were there for the buying if a person was willing to make the necessary sacrifices.

There is no way in hell we can tell young people today to up sticks and start a fruit picking job on minimum wage with some implied promise that this decision will lead to home ownership and a stake in society one day. Of course it won’t. Yes, there are other benefits to doing this, such as developing the stamina required for a working life and having a CV with at least something on it, instead of an empty void just when maybe you’re applying for a semi-decent job and HR is looking at yout employment history.

But even so, the prospects for the unskilled low-experienced in Britain nowadays are poorer than they have been in living memory. This is a national failure, one in which the permanently rising prosperity we ought to feel we owe to successive generations has stopped and gone into reverse. This is a problem we should ALL recognise, even those among us who worked hard for everything they had and can honestly claim that nothing was ever handed them on a plate.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
1 year ago

In 200 years, not one of these headlines will matter. Our great-grandchildren’s great-grandchildren will have their own lives and cares, and neither know or care what their great-grandparent’s great-grandparents pondered over as they lived their lives, so long ago …

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
1 year ago

In 200 years, not one of these headlines will matter. Our great-grandchildren’s great-grandchildren will have their own lives and cares, and neither know or care what their great-grandparent’s great-grandparents pondered over as they lived their lives, so long ago …