Boston Herald, January 12, 2023
President Biden recently staged a photo op at the border on his way to a summit in Mexico, having just unveiled a new plan to address the border disaster. Maybe it will work as political damage control, but it will not fix the border — and will probably make it worse.
The plan has been presented as a carrot-and-stick — make it easier for people from several countries to get in “legally” while expelling those who sneak over. Unfortunately, the stick is scrawny, while the carrot is mighty enticing.
The first of the two sticks the president has said he will use against illegal immigration is the expanded use of “expedited removal,” which, as the name suggests, is designed to quickly deport undocumented migrants caught at the border. Except he already has this authority and, in fact, restricted agents’ use of it as recently as last year. And in any case, it can’t work unless you detain the migrants until they are deported, which this administration just refuses to do.
The other stick is getting Mexico to agree to take back across the border up to 30,000 border-jumpers a month from four countries — Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Haiti — to get people to instead use a “legal” program Biden just made up (more on that below). That is fine as far as it goes, though former president Donald Trump got a lot more cooperation from Mexico because he approached it from a position of strength rather than Biden’s almost comical weakness.
But what about undocumented alien number 30,001? In November, at the border, 82,000 people from those four countries were “encountered” (the Biden euphemism for arrests). And what about illegal border-crossers from all the other countries that sent 150,000 migrants to the border in November? You know the answer — they will almost all be let in, especially after Title 42 ends (that is the COVID-related measure tied up in court that allows the Border Patrol to expel undocumented migrants without asylum hearings). And few, if any, of them will ever be made to leave.
These enforcement plans are supposed to be the counterbalance for new “safe, orderly and humane pathways” into the United States. And while the stick will do little to reduce illegal immigration, these “safe, orderly and humane” carrots will likely increase the flow of people who have no right to be here.
There are two of these new made-up programs that are not authorized by law. One is for people from the four countries mentioned; for everyone else, there is the opportunity to be pre-legalized before getting to the border using what looks suspiciously like a restaurant reservation app. The point in both cases is not to reduce the number of people coming across the border but just to get them out of the politically damaging Border Patrol arrest (sorry, “encounter”) statistics by making their arrival “legal.”
The supposed legal basis for both programs is something called “parole.” In the immigration sense, parole is the narrow power Congress has given the president to admit individual foreigners without visas in emergencies. But Biden has been using it to let in people by the hundreds of thousands, and his new plan proposes to let in hundreds of thousands more. This is on top of the 1 million people coming in each year through the existing legal immigration system.
The good news is that these carrots may shrivel before Biden uses them to entice even more people to the border. Florida recently sued to stop the blatantly unlawful abuse of parole.
Even that happy development will not change the fact that we have an administration that does not believe in enforcing immigration law.