Fireworks: Why Is Biden De-Prioritizing Deportations of Illegal Immigrants Who Commit Additional Crimes?

Posted: Feb 10, 2021 10:35 AM

As the political commentariat is consumed by the impeachment trial of the former president, the current president's administration is making significant and harmful policy changes in a number of key areas. President Biden campaigned on vague notions of unity and togetherness, but he's moved swiftly to usher in drastically "progressive" policies that signal a sharp departure from the Trump era – even if those actions are ill-conceived or half-baked. On energy, Team Biden has unilaterally and intentionally destroyed thousands of jobs through various executive actions, assuring those newly unemployed workers that they'll find "green" employment after their federally-mandated displacement. When pressed on exactly when those promised new jobs will become available to those who've been jarringly uprooted from their livelihoods by the new administration, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that unspecified "plans" will be announced in the coming weeks. In other words, a circle back. How comforting, I'm sure, to those who are trying to make ends meet for their families now that the president has terminated their good-paying work.

Turning to immigration, Biden is rolling back a series of bilateral asylum-related agreements with Mexico and several Central American nations implemented during the Trump years. These were unambiguous successes of Trump's immigration policy, alleviating burdens at our southern border caused by a crush of asylum-seekers and other illegal immigrants. Humanitarian crises like "kids in cages" and family separation were partially fueled by US obligations under the law once people cross into our territory. The system became overwhelmed and resulted in chaos – chaos that was hugely mitigated by the agreements with other governments that Biden is now ending, with no credible alternative whatsoever in place. As the New York Post's editors argue, this is incredibly reckless posturing. It's terrible policy meant to satisfy a domestic audience. But if you want more kids in cages – as we also saw under the Obama administration, I'll note – this is how you help achieve that outcome:

Once again demonstrating Democrats’ obsession with undoing all things Trump, the Biden team is unilaterally canceling US agreements with El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras that helped rein in the surge of illegal crossers at the US-Mexico border — with no plan in place for what else to do. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the move over the weekend, basically admitting the administration doesn’t actually have an alternate plan yet as he cited a belief that “there are more suitable ways to work with our partner governments to manage migration across the region,” including efforts to reduce the poverty and fear that prompts flight to America. Right: Just cure the ills of the countries these people are fleeing — a goal that has eluded Washington and the region for roughly five decades. Blinken’s mixed message: “These actions do not mean that the US border is open,” but “we are committed to expanding legal pathways for protection and opportunity here and in the region.” This, after the new president already paused deportations and suspended the Trump “remain in Mexico” policy that required asylum applicants to wait outside the country while their cases were processed.

I understand that Democrats loathed Trump's rhetoric and approach to immigration – but immediately jettisoning one of his actual diplomatic triumphs in this area, which relieved enormous pressures on our system and personnel, is incredibly foolish. It's an invitation to turn on the spigot by sending precisely the wrong message to potential border crossers. The repercussions are already becoming clear:

The number of unaccompanied immigrant minors arriving at the U.S. border with Mexico is on a steep rise, posing an early challenge to ambitious plans by President Joe Biden to loosen immigration rules. The number of unaccompanied minors referred to the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement, the agency tasked with caring for them once they cross the border, climbed from 1,530 in October to 3,364 in December – a 120% jump, according to agency statistics released this week. January's numbers were not yet available. The agency usually has 13,764 beds for the minors but only 7,971 are currently available because of COVID-19 social distancing restrictions.

Also deeply foolish is the announcement that illegal immigrants guilty of certain additional crimes will be de-prioritized for deportation. In a bit of a spicy exchange on Fox, I condemned this new policy and sparred with my lefty counterpart who argued that assault may not really count as a violent crime worthy of deportation – and that Joe Biden's election victory was somehow a direct endorsement of weak immigration enforcement:

Biden won by running a low-key campaign that made the election a referendum on the incumbent's personality and handling of the pandemic. He won despite some of his party's unpopular views on a host of topics, which actually helped Republicans down-ballot. It's such a specious argument to suggest that Biden's victory represents a wholesale embrace of his policy agenda, which was rarely seriously adjudicated at all during the general election. But if Democrats are confident that Fowler is correct here, I strongly encourage them to campaign in 2022 on the proposition that illegal immigrants charged with drunk driving or assault should be protected by the federal government from deportation. What a departure from poll-tested talking points about law-abiding DACA recipients. It's an argument Republicans would be delighted to have. Lefties demanding lax enforcement and nuance on questions like this are in for a rude awakening: