March 4, 2024

In Brief: The Day Joe Biden Blew Up the Border

A key executive order signed on February 2, 2021, began the unraveling at the border in earnest.

Voters care about immigration and border security more than any other issue at the moment. The current president and incumbent running to “finish the job” is responsible. Rich Lowry takes a trip down memory lane to prove it.

The border crisis isn’t something that happened to President Biden. It’s not a product of circumstances or understandable policy mistakes made under duress. No, he sought it and created it, on principle and as a matter of urgency.

It wasn’t a second-year priority or even a second-quarter-of-the-first-year priority. The new president set out in his initial days and weeks in office to destroy what Trump had built, most consequentially in the February 2 executive order.

By then, mind you, there had already been significant action to loosen up on the border, including on his first day in office.

The February 2 action was called, preposterously, the “Executive Order on Creating a Comprehensive Regional Framework to Address the Causes of Migration, to Manage Migration Throughout North and Central America, and to Provide Safe and Orderly Processing of Asylum Seekers at the United States Border.”

The order repeatedly used the words “root causes” and “comprehensive,” never a good sign in immigration policy. It emphasized an effort, as the document put it, to “enhance lawful pathways for migration to this country” and revoked a slew of Trump rules, executive orders, proclamations, and memoranda. The sense of it was that there is nothing that we could or should do on our own to control illegal immigration; rather, we had to fix Central America instead.

With its social justice language about “humanitarian” concerns and focus on the reasons “so many people flee their homes,” the order set in motion the calamity we face today.

The order called for better identifying of potential refugees into the United States, using parole to let more migrants join family members in the United States, enhancing access to visa programs, and reviewing whether the U.S. was doing enough for migrants fleeing domestic or gang violence, among other things.

And it put on the chopping block numerous Trump policies that had helped establish order at the border, from Trump’s expansion of expedited removal, to his termination of a parole program for Central American minors, to his memorandum urging the relevant departments to work toward ending “catch and release.”

Most importantly, it went after two of the pillars of Trump’s success at the border: the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), or so-called Remain in Mexico, and the safe-third-country agreements with the Northern Triangle countries that allowed us to divert asylum-seekers to Central American countries other than their own, where they could make asylum claims.

Biden was, of course, helped by DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, as well as Secretary of State Antony Blinken. But the buck stops with Biden’s slew of executive orders.

And just like that, the carefully crafted suite of Trump policies that had given us control of the border were demolished.

Lowry concludes:

The executive order, though, is a stark reminder that — in terms of the harm to the country and political damage to President Biden — they did it to us and to themselves. It’s all there in black and white, a prelude to a disaster that has roiled the country and could well play an outsize role in Joe Biden’s losing the presidency.

National Review subscribers can read the whole thing here.

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