WICKER: Biden headed for worst year ever on illegal immigration
Published 4:00 am Saturday, April 23, 2022
By U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker | Guest Columnist
After four years of strict immigration enforcement under President Trump, President Biden has reduced our border to a state of chaos.
During his first year in office, U.S. border agents encountered a record 1.7 million migrants — a 425-percent jump from 2020. The cause of this surge was clear enough. Throughout his campaign, Biden openly declared his intent to reverse President Trump’s enforcement policies. He then acted on that promise, halting deportations, ending agreements with Latin American countries and refusing to fund the border wall. With peak migration season again upon us, President Biden is doubling down on open-border policies, setting the stage for what could become the worst border crisis in our lifetimes.
Earlier this month, the Biden Administration announced it will soon be ending the use of Title 42, a public health measure that has allowed for the quick expulsion of nearly 2 million migrants during the pandemic. This policy, begun under President Trump, was an effective tool for combating COVID-19 and illegal immigration broadly. With the policy set to end on May 23, the Department of Homeland Security is predicting a “historic border surge,” which could triple current migration levels, reaching 18,000 per day. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says it could release up to 600,000 migrants into the U.S. by September, equivalent to the entire Jackson metro area population.
This self-inflicted time bomb has alarmed even some congressional Democrats. Virginia Senator Mark Warner recently noted, “To do something that might invite a doubling, tripling, quadrupling of numbers at the border — that is not in the best interest of America.”
In the same vein, Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema is leading five Democrats on a bipartisan bill that would require Biden officials to create a replacement policy to stem the tide of migrants before ending Title 42. A House version of this bill has also gained bipartisan support, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi will likely block it.
Ending Title 42 would not be so harmful if President Biden had simply kept in place President Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy. This policy required all asylum seekers south of the border to wait in Mexico while their applications were being reviewed. This removed a major incentive for migrants to come in the first place. Yet President Biden killed the policy upon taking office. A federal court later ordered him to re-implement it, but he is doing the bare minimum to comply and is appealing the ruling. It is no wonder that Americans are concluding President Biden actually wants to encourage illegal immigration.
The President’s lack of concern for the border was put in ink recently in his annual budget request to Congress. That proposal included a cut of $150 million for ICE and a focus on “processing” for migrants, which would only speed up the process of releasing migrants into the country. Notably lacking was any funding for the border wall. In fact, President Biden is currently withholding and diverting $1.9 billion that Congress passed specifically to build the wall. Meanwhile, $350 million in already-purchased steel is continuing to rust at the southern border. For all practical purposes, our border may as well not even exist to the President. We must hope that some of his fellow Democrats will join Republicans and force him to do his job, extend Title 42, and stave off an even worse border crisis.
U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker has served as the senior senator for Mississippi since 2007.