The Beginning of the Biden Border Crisis
FAIR Take | February 2021
Illegal alien apprehensions are surging at the southwest border. Through the first four months of the 2021 fiscal year, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recorded nearly 300,000 apprehensions at the border. For comparison, in all of FY 2020, CBP apprehended just 458,088 individuals.
If the current trends hold month-to-month, then FY 2021 could approve nearly 900,000 apprehensions. These would reflect the crisis months of spring and summer 2019, when even the New York Times declared that the border was at a “breaking point.” The Times’ characterization came after February 2019 apprehensions reached 76,000. In January 2021, they reached 78,232. October through December 2020 each eclipsed 70,000 apprehensions. By the Times’ logic, we are in a second border crisis, and have been in each month of FY 2021.
Yet things are different this time around. The obvious difference between summer 2019 and today is the raging COVID-19 pandemic, and the subsequent lockdowns and shutdowns that created widespread economic chaos and led to near-record unemployment rates. Yet the biggest difference is the change in the White House, and the 180-degree turn in immigration policy that accompanied said change.
Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in the 2020 election and became president on January 20, 2021. Throughout Biden’s campaign, he promised to amnesty every illegal alien in the United States, restore and expand the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, overturn all of President Trump’s immigration executive actions, raise the refugee ceiling to over 100,000, end successful bilateral agreements with Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries, and halt construction of the border wall. By early February, Biden signed a slew of executive orders and issued policy memoranda pursuing many of these goals.
These actions will have consequences. Immigration experts and journalists already noted that Biden’s campaign trail rhetoric was sure to attract illegal aliens to the United States, drawn to the border by Biden’s promises to eviscerate immigration enforcement, halt deportations, and reward lawbreakers with citizenship. Further, Biden’s ending of the Migrant Protection Protocols and asylum agreements means that our immigration authorities are now simply releasing illegal aliens into the interior of the country again with nothing more than a summons for immigration court. This practice – catch and release - fueled earlier migration surges and led to the Trump administration’s short-lived policy of “Zero Tolerance” in a desperate effort to stem the tide.
And therein lies the fundamental difference between the spring-summer 2019 crisis and today’s growing threat at the border – Trump and the immigration enforcement agency heads actually tried to do something about it. President Biden and his team have no plan to address it.
The Biden border crisis is already here, and yet no one is talking about it because the COVID-19 pandemic overshadows the growing apprehension numbers, even as Biden is coming under fire for ordering the release of illegal aliens into the interior of the country without even testing them for COVID-19. Unless the Biden administration changes course – and quickly – the Biden border crisis is going to only grow worse and worse.