On the Southwestern border with Mexico, thousands of immigrants are crossing. Over 4,000 of these immigrants are children, many of whom are crossing alone. People are calling this situation a crisis, but the White House itself refuses to label it as such. Many of these immigrants come from Central America, though there have been immigrants from as far away as Romania. Federal authorities are struggling to keep up with the crisis.
Ambassador Jacobson calls the reason for the recent surge of migrants “hope”. She claims that they are hoping for better treatment under the Biden administration. They are also hoping for a better life. Democrats have long attacked Donald Trump’s policies on immigration, but immigrants are still being packed into detention centers. What makes this worse is that they are crowded into these detention centers during a pandemic. Human smugglers and the noise in Washington incentivize these immigrants to try to cross the border in mass.
More than 4,000 children have been stuck in Border Patrol-run facilities, which are akin to jail-like conditions, for extended periods in the absence of enough shelter space to properly care for them. These people are desperate, fleeing poverty, repression, crime and natural disasters.
Biden Immigration Policies Causing Border Crisis
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, “It’s more than a crisis. This is human heartbreak. This crisis is created by the presidential policies of the new administration. There’s no other way to claim it than a Biden border crisis.”
Biden and many Democrats denounced Trump’s wall and the former president’s immigration policies. Biden campaigned on easing immigration controls, including a moratorium on deportations, an end to former President Donald Trump’s “wait in Mexico” policy for asylum-seekers and halting construction of the border wall. Biden has also created an immigration bill that would offer legal status and a pathway to citizenship for 11 million of the US undocumented population. It also gives a fast-track process for young “Dreamer” immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. His softer status toward immigration has given migrants good reason to believe it would be easier to get to the US and that they would be allowed to stay.
Trump, by comparison, tried to end DACA, stepped up deportation, and imposed stricter limits on refugees, asylum-seekers, and legal immigrants. Illegal immigrants were more fearful of Trump, not believing that they could cross the border and stay in the US easily.
ICE Being Abolished
Many people have criticized Biden for his strict limits on deportations and arrests, claiming that he has essentially abolished ICE without really abolishing it. In a sense, federal agents are hindered in doing their jobs. “The men and women of ICE, they took an oath to enforce immigration laws,” said Thomas Homan, who served as acting ICE director under former President Trump. “It’s unfortunate they can’t do the job. … And it’s unfortunate that many criminals are going to be walking the streets of America because this administration simply thinks they’re not important enough to take off the streets.” ICE is charged with enforcing the nation’s immigration laws — including arresting and deporting people living in the country illegally.
The new guidance directs ICE agents and officers to focus on non-citizens who recently crossed the border illegally, or who are deemed to be threats to national security or public safety. The guidance defines a public safety threat as someone who has been convicted of an aggravated felony, such as murder and rape, or of actively participating in a criminal street gang. Field officers have been instructed to seek pre-approval from supervisors before making arrests of non-citizens convicted of other crimes, such as minor drug offenses, immigration offenses, and driving under the influence. In practice, that means ICE arrests would be limited largely to immigrants who have been convicted of felony offenses and are already detained in federal or state prisons. These policies are, obviously, extremely restrictive of ICE’s actions.
US Ill-Equipped To Handle Surge
Biden has played to the general Democratic base in giving very weak immigration policies, but these have come with a price. The weakening of ICE has made the US ill-equipped to handle the surge. It has also given rise to more immigrants being willing to take greater risks and many unaccompanied minors winding up in detention centers. More than 100,000 migrants attempted to enter the U.S. in February, more than three times the amount for February 2020 and the highest level for the month in five years. The White House continues not to acknowledge the extent of the crisis. Biden press secretary Jen Psaki has questioned press numbers and has refused to give specifics.
Written by: Miranda Smith