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Does Joe Biden really want to solve the migrant crisis?

When is a border shutdown not a shutdown? Credit: Getty

June 5, 2024 - 4:00pm

When Joe Biden announced new restrictions on unauthorised migration this week, some of his foes lamented: “too little, too late.” But the more pressing question might be: how much, for how long?

Facing popular backlash on its immigration record, the White House and its allies have led with the headline item of a mechanism to “shut down” the border: once there are more than an average of 2,500 daily encounters with unauthorised migrants over a week, the United States will stop processing asylum seekers who try to cross the border between official ports of entry until the daily average drops to under 1,500 encounters. The US is reportedly well above this average right now, so this “shutdown” could be triggered immediately.

For years now, it has been clear that the flood of unauthorised immigration has been a drag on Biden’s poll numbers. A CNN poll from September 2022 showed him to have a net -23 disapproval rating on immigration, and his numbers have not improved since then. Yet only now — five months before the election — has Biden at least outwardly budged on the issue.

There are plenty of loopholes in this supposed “shutdown” of the border. The administration will continue to process asylum claims of those who go through official ports of entry. It will also process asylum claims of migrants who use the administration’s CBP One app to register for an asylum appointment. According to CBS News, the CBP One process granted over 450,000 migrants entrance to the United States in the 13 months after the app was first released in January 2023.

Thus, the Biden White House could still funnel in hundreds of thousands of migrants a year — above and beyond the annual numbers for family- and skills-based visas. And the overall triggering threshold for this provision remains historically high. A daily figure of 2,500 encounters translates to over 900,000 encounters annually. The Border Patrol reported only about 310,000 encounters in the 2017 fiscal year.

Biden’s approach to the border has led to a high-stakes stand-off. By deconstructing the enforcement system, his administration aimed to heighten pressure on Republicans in order to try to get them to sign off on some amnesty or expansion of the legal immigration system. Rolling back enforcement also gratified the borders-sceptical activist groups who have disproportionate sway within the Democratic coalition.

The fact that Biden is now taking some action on the border is a rebuke to the reasoning of his own administration — and perhaps a warning to voters. For many months, the administration has insisted that its hands were tied and that it was doing all it could. At the same time, conservative lawyers were pointing to parts of federal law (the very parts that Biden has now invoked) to say that, actually, the President does have more ability to take control of the border. In saying it needs to restrict asylum to “gain control” of the border, the White House admits that it has lost control.

Crucially, many of the political incentives that led Biden to detonate the enforcement infrastructure would still be obtained if he were re-elected in November. In January 2025, President Biden could easily erase with executive action the very same enforcement efforts that he now proposes.

And Biden has additional escape hatches, if he wants to use them. These enforcement provisions are likely to be legally contested in the months ahead. His Justice Department could mount a half-hearted defence of them in the courts, or it could sign off on a legal settlement with activist groups that further limits the enforcement powers of the Government (just as the Flores Settlement, which has had long-term consequences for the detention of unauthorised migrants, was not officially approved until after Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election). Biden also has other tools for expanding immigration pathways. He has already used “humanitarian parole” in an unprecedented way to grant legal status to migrants, and he could expand those efforts if he were re-elected.

In his second term, Biden might show even less moderation on immigration than he demonstrated in his first.


Fred Bauer is a writer from New England.

fredbauerblog

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AC Harper
AC Harper
19 days ago

Immigration does not seem to be a problem with the Biden regime. Ignoring the effects of immigration on the ‘deplorables’ has now developed into an existential threat to the regime, which is why now ‘something must appear to be done’.

0 0
0 0
18 days ago
Reply to  AC Harper

If he wins on Election Day, he will lift the restrictions the day after. You watch.

Colorado UnHerd
Colorado UnHerd
19 days ago

An astute analysis. Americans have good reason to distrust this politically expedient policy shift, which will likely reveal as exactly that should Biden be re-elected. This isn’t a change of principles; it’s a change of strategy.

El Uro
El Uro
19 days ago

These Biden’s “restrictions” are the “stupidity test” for Americans.
.
Let’s see…

T Bone
T Bone
19 days ago

This is an admission that the “Bipartisan” Border legislation was completely unnecessary.

D Walsh
D Walsh
19 days ago

Joe Biden is 800 years old, like most boomers he doesn’t care about anyone else, he had his fun and thats all that matters

His biggest concern is getting his nappy changed on time

Richard Maycock
Richard Maycock
19 days ago

Nobody appears to “want to solve the immigration problem”. Not in the US or in Europe, and certainly not here in the UK. I’m approaching 70, and there has been an immigration problem (variously defined) for my entire life. No-one, not Labour or Tory, has ever done anything to address it, let alone solve it.
At the government level it’s plain, immigration is not a problem at all. The problem is simply how to placate the public so it can continue unabated.
I really do wish they would explain this thinking that is so at odds with such a large proportion of the public.

Traci Weaver
Traci Weaver
19 days ago

Politics as usual. Why does the writer assume a second term?

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
18 days ago

It is simple, the American people dont want this level of illegal immigration but the left does. The left is about a third of the voting population but has the cunning and persistence to persuade enough of the inattentive independent vote to win national office, but only barely. They need to pull a lot of rabbits out of the hat this time or resort to cheating that will beggar belief. They are so good at that in the big blue cities with black leadership that they have a good shot at Californicating the whole country.

William Brand
William Brand
17 days ago

Obama and his puppet Biden are trying to destroy America by replacing the red state working class. They forget that when America goes the elite will go with it.