After weeks of talks, Senators Chris Murphy (Democrat-Connecticut), Kyrsten Sinema (Independent-Arizona), and James Lankford (Republican-Oklahoma) published their bipartisan proposal to put an end to the border crisis while giving more than $75 billion to Ukraine and Israel. The trio and their allies, including President Joe Biden, are insisting that this bill puts an end to partisan border politics and provides a permanent mechanism to stem the current and future migrant crisis.
They’ve also insisted that anyone who opposes the measure isn’t serious about fixing the problem, is playing games to help elect Donald Trump, or is part of a disinformation campaign funded by Vladimir Putin. Yet this bill will do nothing significant to stop the border crisis. In fact, it may well make it worse.
Key to the proposed legislation is the idea to shut down the border and greatly reduce the number of people who can enter the US, though Murphy admitted in a tweet that the border will never close, only become “more orderly” and “humane”.
The bill allows the Department of Homeland Security to shut down the border if the number of migrant encounters reaches a rolling weekly average of 5,000 per day or 8,500 on any given day. In 2019, a former senior official in the Barack Obama administration said that 1,000 a day constituted a crisis, a fraction of the current threshold. What’s more, Mexican and Canadian nationals would not be included in the tallies: if 5,000 migrants attempted to enter the US but 1,000 were from Mexico, it would not be classed as a crisis.
Biden is also permitted to suspend DHS’s border emergency for up to 45 days if he considers it to be within the national interest. So, with a stroke of the President’s pen, this safeguard to protect the border could be gone instantly.
There’s also some badly needed asylum reform. The bill would question whether applicants could have resettled in a different country or a different part of their own country, and if they have a criminal history. It also moves to fast-track asylum applications and work permits.
Humanitarian parole, a tool that Congress granted the president in 1952 to use on a case-by-case basis, has been greatly abused by Biden. In the last three years, he has granted over a million migrants parole, more than any of his White House predecessors. This bill seeks to tighten that process by excluding migrants who enter between the ports of entry. It seems dubious that Biden will listen to this demand by Congress when he no longer grants parole as the law originally stipulated.
The senators also sprinkled the legislation with gifts to special interest groups, such as $1 billion to NGOs which settle migrants into the country’s interior and 50,000 in new work visas, a high priority for donors. The bill grants immediate work permits to illegal aliens who have been released from custody, helping large corporations in need of low-skilled workers while sparing blue state Democrats who are feeling the fiscal crunch from having to provide welfare for migrants. However, that provision creates another incentive for migrants to enter the US, as they know they can immediately start working and sending money abroad. Despite its intended reforms, the bill will not stop the uncontrolled flow into the country.
Biden is largely responsible for this border crisis. From the moment he stepped onto the Democratic debate stage and offered to provide government-funded healthcare to illegal migrants, the incentive to come to America became more substantial than it had been in decades.
Some of his first executive orders were rolling back Trump-era restrictions on immigration, including Remain in Mexico, the public charge rule, Title 42, and the ban on migrants from terrorist nations. Even the New York Times has admitted that migrants are entering the border illegally because they know Biden will not enforce the rule of law.
All the President has to do is start enforcing the laws that Congress has already bestowed on the executive branch to stop the migrant crisis. He is entitled to suspend entry outright to any migrants he sees as detrimental to the national interest, while DHS can authorise immigration officers with the removal of any alien not seeking asylum, as well as denying asylum to anyone who has resettled somewhere other than their country of origin.
Since Texas Governor Greg Abbott pushed back against the migrant crisis coming to his state, the number of illegal migrants entering through Eagle Pass has dropped by 76% in a single month. Nearly 75% of all migrants are attempting to cross through Arizona and California, knowing those governors will not enforce the law.
To solve the border crisis, Biden needs a will, not a bill that creates more magnets and asks the administrative state to do its job.