For more than three years, the Biden and Trump administrations have relied on an obscure public health law to manage illegal crossings at the southern border. That measure, whose legal justification was as flimsy as its health utility, did little or nothing to impede the pandemic — its stated purpose — but plenty to accelerate the expulsion of well over 2 million migrants, most of them Mexican and Central American. It is to be lifted just before midnight Thursday, a move expected to accelerate a fresh surge of unauthorized border-crossing, at least in the short term.
The Biden administration’s overall immigration policy has been waffling and contradictory, but the overdue lifting of the public health measure issued under Title 42 has forced a reckoning. In preparation for the expected fresh tide of migrants seeking entry to the country — some forecasts suggest thousands more will attempt to cross the border each day, on top of the 6,000-to-8,000 daily tally of recent months — officials have forged some clearer-eyed policies, although at least one is likely to face legal scrutiny.
The dismaying truth about the U.S. immigration system is that it is hardly a system at all. That failure has been caused by political dysfunction in Congress, which for years has been unable to fashion major reforms.
Republicans have bashed President Biden for immigration policy that seemed at cross purposes with itself. They have a point. The administration’s stance has featured tough talk designed to dissuade migrant crossings, which was at odds with the real situation at the border, under which well over 1 million migrants, many of them in families, have been admitted to the country. Often those migrants pursue asylum claims that can take years to adjudicate in overwhelmed immigration courts. The result has been to encourage an ongoing crush of illegal border-crossing.
Yet the Republicans’ own approach is hardly a panacea. In addition to stunts by some GOP governors, who have flown and bused migrants to Democratic states, many in the party pressed to retain the Title 42 policy, which rested on unsteady legal grounds even when covid-19 was raging and at this point would be unlikely to stand up much longer in the courts.
Mr. Biden is right to end the use of Title 42, under which the federal government has conducted an expulsion program masquerading as a public health initiative. He also deserves credit for keeping migrant families together, a departure from President Donald Trump’s pitiless policy of separating them. Most of all, Mr. Biden should be applauded for taking steps to vastly expand the admission of refugees, including hundreds of thousands from Ukraine and Afghanistan, along with establishing wider legal pathways for others to enter the country.
Those steps include the administration’s move, in conjunction with the United Nations, to open processing centers in Colombia and Guatemala, with more planned elsewhere. The centers are sensibly intended to encourage migrants from South and Central America to apply for entry to the United States without making the dangerous trip through Mexico to the U.S. border, during which many are victims of predatory human traffickers.
In a similar vein, the administration has established a humanitarian sponsorship program to admit up to 30,000 migrants monthly on a two-year entry permit from four countries: Cuba, Haiti, Venezuela and Nicaragua, where varying combinations of economic meltdown, lawless chaos and political repression have driven an exodus of desperate people seeking better and safer lives in the United States. In conjunction with those legal admissions, the administration struck a deal with Mexico to continue accepting deported migrants from those four countries who arrive in the United States without having applied for the humanitarian sponsorship program. That policy has been effective until now in discouraging those migrants from seeking to cross the border illegally.
The most controversial part of Mr. Biden’s plan is his announcement that migrants from elsewhere will be swiftly expelled if they cross the border without first applying for asylum in Mexico. That stance sits uneasily with long-standing tradition, laws and treaty obligations, written before so many migrants overwhelmed the U.S. asylum system, which extend to them the right to apply for asylum once they are on U.S. soil. Federal courts previously blocked a somewhat similar Trump policy. Though it might discourage border crossings and the often dangerous travel that precedes them, the Biden administration’s new stance, which comes into effect Thursday, is certain to face a court fight that will test whether the exceptions it includes allow it to pass legal muster.
As for Mr. Biden’s deployment of 1,500 troops to the border, ostensibly to provide backup to border authorities, this amounts to a showy move that several previous presidents already tried.
The U.S. asylum system, designed for another era, has been in dire need of an overhaul in the 21st century. Until Congress manages to act, administrations will be forced to rely on improvisations and stopgaps, inevitably challenged in court. Mr. Biden, dealt a bad hand, has at last crafted an array of enforcement and admission policies that attempt to respond to the push driving millions of migrants toward the U.S. border. Yet the goal of an orderly border remains elusive.
The Washington (Amazon) Post in yet another brazen attempt to cover for Biden and complicit Dems America Last policies… Sorry, Amazon Post, but Biden and his border Czar Harris’s failed policies are just that, no matter how you slice it… failed. But the silver lining (costing much more silver) – more of these “immigrants” are being shipped to Democrat-controlled cities, potentially replacing American citizens abandoning those cities.
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