Rich Lowry / December 23, 2022

Ending Title 42 Would Exacerbate the Border Crisis

When Title 42 goes away, it’s hard to predict exactly what will happen — except Biden and his team will resist taking any responsibility.

The U.S. teeters on the brink of a complete meltdown at the border, and yet the Biden administration is still consumed with blame-shifting and evasions.

Whatever happens at the border must be the fault of the prior administration, Joe Biden’s critics, or circumstances beyond anyone’s control. And no matter how bad things get, it is definitely not in any way a “crisis at the border” — a phrase as taboo at the Biden White House as “black sheep” or “ladies and gentlemen” at Stanford University.

Pancho Villa could ride again and detach a portion of the United States to serve as a safe haven for millions of migrants drawn from throughout the hemisphere and Biden officials would call it a “challenge,” not a “crisis.”

If that’s not going to happen, when Title 42 — the pandemic-era edict that has become a pillar of border enforcement — inevitably expires, the historic influx of migrants is now only going to swell. Current daily apprehensions are running at an off-the-charts 7,000-a-day and could go as high as 18,000.

It’s incredible, but true, that two years into the Biden administration, with Donald Trump 800 miles south of the White House hawking trading cards, Biden officials still point the finger at him.

The other day, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said her boss has been saddled with the “system that was set” by his predecessor. Biden, too, has claimed that he was stuck with “one god-awful mess at the border,” and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas likes to complain about “inheriting a broken and dismantled immigration system.”

It’s passing strange, though, that the failure of Trump’s approach didn’t become apparent until he left office and his policies were largely dismantled.

It’d be one thing if Biden had positioned himself as an inheritor of Trump’s border policies, and assiduously kept them in place; then, if crossings skyrocketed anyway, he might have had legitimate cause to argue that the Trump measures had failed.

Instead, he declared himself a sworn enemy of all Trump had wrought, tore as much of it up as possible and, when a border that had been brought under control by 2020 unraveled month by month, still blamed it on Trump. This is a rhetorical move so audacious that most wouldn’t dare attempt it.

Equally bold is the assertion that harsh criticisms of Biden’s border policies are responsible for migrants coming. Jean-Pierre recently said that if Title 42 is lifted it “does not mean the border is open. Anyone who suggests otherwise is simply doing the work of these smugglers.”

The idea is that if border hawks say we have a de facto open border, migrants will think, erroneously, that they can come to the border and gain entry illegally. Of course, it is the reality that migrants can come to the border and gain entry illegally that is driving the continued flow, rather than anyone pointing this out.

Then, there is the communism excuse. “What’s on my watch now,” Biden has said, “is Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua.” Jean-Pierre puts a finer point on it. “Failing authoritarian regimes in Venezuela, as well as Nicaragua and Cuba, are causing a new migration challenge across the Western Hemisphere,” she averred. “So, what we’re seeing is a new pattern.”

It is certainly true that the number of migrants from these countries has increased, but if the border is largely open, they are going to feel the same incentive to come as migrants from other countries. Migrants from these three places still accounted for only 35% of the total as of August 2021. Sadly, Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua have been miserably misgoverned for a long time. What’s changed is that desperate people living in these countries have a better chance of getting into, and staying in, the United States than ever before.

When Title 42 goes away, it’s hard to predict exactly what will happen — except Biden and his team will resist taking any responsibility.

© 2022 by King Features Syndicate

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