Biden’s Year One in Immigration

By Mark Krikorian on January 20, 2022

National Review, January 20, 2022

President Biden probably didn’t mind not being asked a single question about border or immigration issues during his two-hour press conference Wednesday. It’s his weakest issue with the public and was even before his general approval rating tanked.

There’s good reason for the public disapproval. The disaster at the border exceeds anything we’ve ever seen, with close to 1.7 million arrests at the southern border in fiscal 2021. But part of that fiscal year was under Trump; as of today, during Biden’s first 365 days, arrests at the southern border will total a whopping 2 million. Of those 2 million arrests, perhaps 700,000 were released into the United States (the others being expelled under a public health order known in shorthand as Title 42). If you think any of those 700,000 will leave when their asylum claims are rejected (as most will be), I have an asteroid to sell you.

As the illegal flow at the border has ballooned, deportation of aliens from inside the country has collapsed. ICE’s year-end report has still not been released, but data extracted through a Freedom of Information Act request shows that during the first five months of Biden’s term, the number of deportations from inside the country fell 80 percent from the same period in 2020 and 90 percent from 2019.

That’s only part of the story. As a pro-administration think tank reports:

The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) logged 296 executive actions on immigration taken by the administration as of January 19 — one day before Biden’s first anniversary in office. By contrast, the Trump administration carried out 86 executive actions during its first year and 472 over its four-year term, MPI analysts have found.

These measures include giving work permits to hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens, abandoning the rule designed to deny green cards to welfare users, canceling the Safe Third Country agreements negotiated with several Central American countries, and plenty more.

You would think from all this that Biden’s leftist and libertarian allies would be thrilled. But they’re actually peeved that the administration hasn’t done more to open the borders. From talk of this being “Trump’s second term,” to claims that “Biden has continued Trump’s most restrictionist, inhumane and possibly illegal border policies” (meaning Title 42), the anti-borders crowd is demanding Biden drive off a cliff at maximum speed.

There are hints that at least a few people in the White House don’t want to go full Thelma and Louise. Some of the Haitians camped under the bridge in Del Rio were returned to Haiti. Semi-secret deportation flights to southern Mexico and Guatemala are repatriating some Central Americans. And two of the more zealous anti-borders figures in the White House have recently announced their departures.

But these don’t signal a real change of course, and thus won’t have much impact. Border arrests went up again in December, and I’m hearing that the year-end ICE report is so bad they’re afraid to release it.

It’s going to be a long three more years.