biden immigration policy
Biden didn't 'open' the U.S.-Mexico border, but it isn't 'closed' either
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas went on almost every Sunday talk show to deliver a message about immigration through the U.S.-Mexico border: "The border is closed." He told NBC News the Biden administration is "expelling families" and "single adults," though not unaccompanied minors. "We are not expelling children, girls, 5, 7, 9 years old back into the desert of Mexico, back into the hands of traffickers," Mayorkas told MSNBC.
Clearly, the southern border isn't "closed." Some families with small children are being allowed in, and the number of unaccompanied migrants has pushed sanctioned shelters far above capacity, leaving hundreds of children in crowded Customs and Border Protection facilities past the allowed three-day maximum. Mayorkas told CNN that DHS is "working around the clock to move these children out of the Border Patrol facilities into" appropriate shelters.
A federal judge had blocked former President Donald Trump from returning unaccompanied migrants to Mexico since November. President Biden did not resume the expulsions when an appellate court reversed that decision in January.
But the border also isn't "open," as many Republicans claim. The Biden administration has been using Trump's pandemic-linked Title 42 emergency health order to turn away adults and many families, though Mexico stopped taking back families with young children for several weeks. And while border crossings have risen since Biden took office — apparently fueled largely by smugglers selling migrants on the idea that Biden will be more lenient than Trump — the uptick began almost a year before Biden took office, according to CBP data collected by the American Immigration Council.
Without Trump's draconian policies to rally against, Democrats don't really have a coherent immigration policy, David Leonhardt writes at The New York Times. "The U.S. could increase legal immigration. It could build more detention facilities with humane conditions. It could do more to improve conditions in Latin America and to push Mexico to control its own southern border. The Biden administration is pursuing many of these policies." But, he adds, "if Biden and his aides appear to be less steady on immigration than many other policy areas, there is a reason for that: They are less steady."