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February 10, 2021

Catch (COVID) and Release?

Isn’t it “cruel” and “immoral” to have virtually open borders during a pandemic?

Among the numerous executive orders President Joe Biden has issued in his first few days in office were three on immigration. Each of them was aimed at undoing President Donald Trump’s progress on law enforcement, which Team Biden claims was “cruel” and “immoral.”

The all-too-predictable results are already here: It’s “a building crisis.”

Those quoted words don’t come from some supposedly xenophobic right-winger but from a story in The Washington Post.

To be fair, there is a confluence of events regarding illegal border crossings. For one thing, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said, “CBP has seen a steady increase in border encounters since April 2020.” Then in January, Mexico began refusing to take back families with younger children. (The Mexican government knows who’s now in charge in the U.S.) While we’re not yet to 2019 levels, CBP facilities are exceeding their pandemic-reduced capacity, and the migrants have to go somewhere.

Trump’s policy was to not allow a flood of asylum seekers into the U.S. in the first place. Biden’s policy is to reinstate “catch and release,” letting them out of holding facilities with a date to return for a hearing. How many never return for those hearings? How many commit crimes in the interim and won’t be deported? How many migrant workers does it take to depress the wages of American workers?

And what about the coronavirus pandemic? Biden has been telling us for months how badly Trump handled it and how he’ll fix that and keep Americans safe.

Indeed, Trump handled it very differently. According to The Wall Street Journal, “U.S. immigration officials turned back more than 380,000 migrants, including thousands of families and unaccompanied children, between March and December. Trump administration officials said the returns were necessary to avoid possible outbreaks of Covid-19 inside cramped border facilities.”

In other words, migrants packed in tight quarters might yield COVID outbreaks, so turn them back and keep them out, protecting American citizens and law-abiding immigrants in the process. Biden’s answer is instead to let the illegals in.

Wouldn’t want to be “xenophobic,” after all.

Yet according to the aforementioned Post article, that newfound “compassion” is a big problem. The Post relates the story of one migrant and her children who crossed the border illegally and were deported last year only to come across again with Uncle Joe at the helm. Sure enough, this time, she and her children were released in McAllen, Texas. The Post reports, “The area has been one of those hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 100,000 cases, raising concerns in cities and towns worried about a growing influx of people and outbreaks inside shelters.”

McAllen City Manager Roy Rodriguez adds, “Federal officers are not doing any COVID testing for immigrants coming across.”

Who cares about a pandemic when there are potential voters to appease? That may sound overly harsh and cynical, but we think it’s clearly the Biden administration’s calculation. Biden and his team may half-heartedly tell Central Americans not to cross the border, but they know exactly what message they’re really sending by rescinding all of Trump’s enforcement mechanisms.

In 2019, Jeh Johnson, Barack Obama’s former DHS secretary, warned that 1,000 daily illegal crossings “overwhelms the system,” whereas 4,000 is “crisis” level. We’re currently at 3,000 to 3,500 crossing per day and counting.

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