Unherd, August 1, 2022
Two years ago, while campaigning for the presidency, Joe Biden said, “There will not be another foot of wall constructed on my administration.” On his first day in office, President Biden ordered “an immediate pause in wall construction projects”.
And yet, the Biden administration last week ordered gaps in the wall to be filled near Yuma, Arizona, where huge numbers of illegal border-crossers have entered. This was simply following through on a Department of Homeland Security announcement last December that “small gaps” in the wall (left by Biden’s hasty order to stop construction) would be filled. So not only will there be additional feet of wall constructed, but they might amount to additional miles.
Does this signify a change of course on immigration by the Biden White House? Are they admitting that they were wrong, and that President Trump was right? Unfortunately not. Instead it’s a cosmetic gesture driven by the upcoming elections — specifically, the re-election campaign of Sen. Mark Kelly, a Democrat from Arizona. In a 50-50 Senate, every seat up for election counts. If Republicans manage a net gain of just one seat in the upper house, Biden’s plans to appoint judges, and perhaps even another Supreme Court justice, will be significantly complicated, if not scuttled altogether.
Whoever wins this week’s Republican primary to run against Kelly is sure to highlight his support of the administration’s border policies. And the situation in Yuma is quite dire. A quarter-million border-jumpers have crossed so far this fiscal year, double the prior year and a 30-fold increase from the same period in 2020. Aware of this vulnerability, Sen. Kelly took credit for the DHS move, headlining his press release in response, “After Sen. Kelly’s Urging, DHS to Close Morelos Dam Gaps at the Southern Border.”
Unfortunately, the underlying policy that is causing the surge in illegal crossings in the first place remains unchanged, meaning that people will continue to infiltrate the border along all the other stretches with no fencing. Unlike all prior administrations, the Biden White House rejects the very idea of deterring illegal immigration. In a Fox News interview with Bret Baier, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said: “It is the objective of the Biden administration to make sure that we have safe, orderly, and legal pathways for individuals to be able to access our legal system.” In other words, the Biden administration is not trying to reduce the number of illegal immigrants at the southern border.
This is happening not so much because Biden is trying to import Democratic voters, as some have claimed. While administration figures would welcome any political benefits, they’re ambiguous and in any case far in the future. Instead, the administration is driven by an ideological belief that every person in the world — excepting only terrorists and child molesters — has a right to enter the United States, whether legally or not, and claim asylum, and live and work here for as long as the adjudication process takes.
This is much more alarming than if the White House were merely engaging in cynical political manoeuvres, and isn’t going to change simply because a few high-profile, photogenic gaps in the border fence are closed.