Border Crisis Second in Importance Only to Covid-19 for Voters

70 percent want Biden to deal with the border — Americans hate chaos, and don’t want to be suckers

By Andrew R. Arthur on March 31, 2021

RealClear Politics has released a poll of 2,000 registered voters, asking them to rank “a list of goals that President Biden and his administration are seeking to achieve during his first 100 days in office.” Seventy percent of the American electorate replied that “deal[ing] with the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border” was “important”, running second only to two Covid-related questions for the top spot.

It is likely “important” to 26 percent of voters and “very important” to an additional 44 percent for good reason: The border’s a mess, with 4,000 families and children crowded into a detention facility in Donna, Texas, that was intended for 250 people (“the youngest were kept in a large play pen with mats on the floor for sleeping”).

With 76 migrants dying this year (as of March 25) attempting to cross the Southwest border (compared to 113 in all of 2020 and 73 in 2019).

With DHS expecting a half-million to 800,000 family migrants to arrive this year.

Americans don’t like to see such chaos at the border.

When President Jimmy Carter promised in May 1980 to welcome Cuban nationals fleeing Castro with “open arms”, 120,000 “Marielitos” took him up on the offer, triggering a humanitarian disaster. Opponents pounced, claiming the “administration had been unprepared to handle the influx.”

That humanitarian disaster was not limited to south Florida. On August 5, 1980, three riots involving Cuban detainees at Ft. Indiantown Gap, Pa., left many injured as those detainees hurled bottles and rocks at national guardsmen, taking control of areas within the base.

And few remember that then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton lost in a reelection bid because he had to house Mariel detainees in his state.

Carter had to back down, negotiating an end to the boat lift with the Cuban government five months later.

Speaking of Bill Clinton, a surge of Haitian migrants between 1991 and 1994 was a black eye for his administration and that of George H.W. Bush, and a separate Haitian departure also threatened the younger President Bush’s reelection in 2004.

Migrant surges under the last administration led to the “kids in cages” trope that haunted President Trump all the way to the final presidential debate.

The average American voter is likely clueless when it comes to the economic impacts of increases in H-1B visas or expansions of “OPT”, but they understand scenes of massive numbers of migrants pouring over the border — and don’t like it.

That is likely why you hear administration officials and immigration advocates responding that the current surge is the product of “pent-up demand”. That makes it seem like the aliens apprehended at the border were simply “backlogged” and would have entered earlier but for the “harsh[]” and “cruel” policies of Donald Trump.

Of course, the former Obama DHS official who used those words (or in the former case, a variation thereof) also complained that Trump’s policies were “failed”, which raises the obvious question of whether there ever such was a log-jam at the border to begin with.

What will happen, however, if that surge fails to abate in the coming months? I am guessing that those 70 percent of voters know that it won’t, and like Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador they believe that Biden’s rhetoric (which largely rejected Trump’s immigration policies) is drawing foreign nationals to the United States to enter illegally.

For example, then-candidate Biden promised (in the third-person) to:

End the mismanagement of the asylum system, which fuels violence and chaos at the border. ... Biden will direct the necessary resources to ensure asylum applications are processed fairly and efficiently, while treating families and children with compassion and sensitivity.

If I were a smuggler, I would print that excerpt out and hand it to potential “clients” from Choluteca, Honduras, to Huehuetenango, Guatemala, to the streets of San Salvador.

Finally, the American people hate to be played for suckers. One of my most popular posts lately was captioned “Taxpayers to Spend $392.69 per Person per Night on Hotels for Illegal Border-Crossers: You are now a smuggling co-conspirator”. Why? Readers don’t want to pay to foot the bill for poorly thought-out policies.

Which is what we are doing now.

The Biden administration has the good fortune to have Trump-era CDC Title 42 orders — issued in response to the pandemic — to fall back on for now. They require the expulsion of migrants who are entering illegally, and the Biden administration used them to quickly expel more than 70,000 of the almost 97,000 migrants the Border Patrol apprehended at the Southwest border in February.

Biden is not using Title 42 to expel unaccompanied children (which is why “tens of thousands” are in custody — 10 percent testing positive for Covid), however, and increasingly is not using it for migrant families, either (that is why you have an $86 million hotel bill coming).

In fact, ICE promised the federal judge overseeing the Flores settlement agreement on March 27 that it would be releasing families “in 15 days or less”.

As an aside, it is my opinion that the decisions of the judge in question — the Hon. Dolly Gee of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California — are the reason why we are seeing so many family migrants entering the United States (as I explained in a January 11 post), and that she has greater control over the situation at the border than President Biden does. If American voters understood that, more than 70 percent would be outraged.

Title 42 won’t last forever, though, and as soon as that cork is out of the bottle, we will reflect on March 2021 as the “good old days” at the border, as hundreds of thousands of migrants surge the border.

When that happens (not “if”), I can guarantee that the percentage of American voters demanding the president to take immediate action will surge well past 70 percent, as well.