Joe Biden seems to be angling for a kinder and gentler immigration policy.
Hallelujah! After years of presidents from both parties being heartless and hardheaded in dealing with uninvited guests, that’s just what we need. In deciding who can legally enter the United States and who should be kept out, we hold all the cards. We don’t have to be jerks about it.
It seems Biden is capable of doing something that neither of his immediate predecessors — former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump — was very good at doing: admitting mistakes and reversing course.
Obama and Trump—who were often guided by political expediency, rather than what was right or wrong—made plenty of mistakes in dealing with immigration. One of biggest blunders, which they both shared, was in treating children who sought refugee status in ways that were less than humane. Abuses included allegedly separating these children from their parents or guardians, and warehousing them like animals in cages with scant food and water for long periods of time without access to legal counsel or social workers. These crowded facilities are also breeding grounds for various diseases, including COVID-19. It was a mess that Obama started and Trump expanded.
During his first weeks in office, Biden seemed to be going down that same dark road. With hundreds of children showing up at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent days, and thousands more apparently on the way, the new administration started discreetly housing many of these children in what the liberal media generously described as “migrant child facilities” or “child detention centers.”
But activists weren’t fooled by semantics, and they immediately began hammering Biden. They got support from lawmakers such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who tweeted: “This is not okay, never has been okay, never will be okay — no matter the administration or party.”
Now, according to the Washington Post, the administration is converting immigrant family detention centers in Texas into “Ellis-Island-style rapid-processing hubs that will screen migrant parents and children with a goal of releasing them into the United States within 72 hours.”
Good on Biden. This is the proper course of action. It’s not a perfect plan, but “perfect” doesn’t exist on the U.S.-Mexico border. There is only terrible, and good enough. The other two options—sending these people home to the menacing street gangs that chased them out, and locking them in long-term storage indefinitely—are terrible. Releasing them into the United States is, as solutions go, good enough.
Of course, there is always the danger that easing up on family detention will make a bad situation worse by encouraging more families to make the trek north to the United States.
There is also the logistical question of who these children will be released to, and whether they will ever have to answer in immigration court for entering the country illegally.
Or is that even what happened? If they’re seeking refugee status because they come from a country in Central America that is run by ruthless gangs—El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras—those asylum claims deserve something they didn’t always get from Obama or Trump: a hearing.
Conservatives are not pleased. They used to throw around the term “invasion.” The new buzzword is “crisis.”
Question: What’s the definition of a crisis? Answer: A situation over which white people have lost control.
Apparently, there is nothing more to it. A problem without a simple and easy solution. A challenge without the will to meet it. A sticky circumstance that makes you sweat and requires creativity and courage to get through. These days, any one of these things can be considered a crisis.
By that definition, the fact that thousands of children are currently gathering at the U.S.-Mexico border—uninvited and unannounced, as refugees tend to be—would indeed qualify.
Funny, I live about an hour from the border, and—when I look to the south—I don’t see a crisis. This isn’t a wave of forest fires, an earthquake, a terrorist attack, or a global pandemic. A crisis has an end point, a light at the end of the turmoil. But migration is a recurring phenomenon.
Sure, Paul Revere. “The kids are coming! The kids are coming!” Thousands of them—children, but also women—came in 2019 (under Trump), and before that in 2014 (under Obama).
Conservatives insist these people are coming for one reason and one reason only: because Biden is president, and giving away the store.
When the topic is immigration, at least those on the right are consistent. Too bad they’re consistently wrong.
Two years ago, when Trump was president, thousands of would-be refugees came in droves. He wasn’t giving anything but grief.
It’s awfully arrogant to think that thousands of Central Americans make the momentous decision of whether to head north on a long and dangerous journey that will take months based on how the Rust Belt states voted and who got elected president of the United States. Here’s a radical thought: Maybe these people decide their own destiny.
Besides, the calendar doesn’t work for the argument that Biden caused the surge. The Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based anti-immigrant advocacy group that opposes both legal and illegal immigration, has been warning about this caravan (presumably to gin up donations from supporters) since before Biden took office.
A fundraising message sent out on Jan. 16, five days before Biden was inaugurated, read: “The Center for Immigration Studies is actively tracking the U.S.-bound migrant caravan that departed Honduras Friday, reportedly broke through cordons of Honduran riot police after throwing stones amid violent disturbances, and pushed into Guatemala by night. On Saturday, the estimated 5,000 to 6,000 migrants were confronting that nation's police forces at various roadblocks, despite the arrest and deportation back to Honduras of hundreds of people. Meanwhile Mexican national guard troops at that country's border with Guatemala await any elements of the caravan that reach Mexican territory.”
This caravan—and the one before, and the one before that—isn’t about the president. It’s about the profit.
This is big business, a full-fledged industry with smugglers offering to take children and families north as far as the U.S.-Mexico border. Once they get there, the aspiring refugees can then roll the dice to see if they can cross into the United States. If they make it, they may get a chance to plead their case.
And if they’re successful, which is unlikely, their reward will be a lifetime of dirty jobs. They’ll clean our homes, wipe our children’s noses, cut our lawns, pick peaches, pluck chickens in poultry plants. They’ll do the chores that our teenagers and twentysomethings won’t do, proving once again that America’s problem isn’t bad laws but bad parenting.
Again, I don’t see a crisis. All I see are desperate souls with limited options seeking safe haven and eager to see if the Statue of Liberty will make good on her promise to take in “your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”
Let’s say that, by the end of the year, as many as 100,000 people—largely women and children from Central America—seek asylum in the United States. In 2020, 73.7 percent of the decisions by immigration judges were to deny asylum; only 26.3 percent of the cases resulted in the applicant being awarded asylum.
Some perspective, please. This is a nation of more than 341 million people. Surely, we can absorb 25,000 desperate souls this year without crumbling or coming apart at the seams.
At least I hope so. If not, then exactly what are Americans so proud of and so desperate to keep for ourselves?