Biden throws open the borders, and Harris scrambles to avoid blame

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Without much fanfare, the Biden administration on Tuesday officially ended the “Remain in Mexico” policy of the Trump era, the program that required asylum-seekers who crossed the border illegally to wait in Mexico for their cases to be heard by US immigration judges.

The move comes amid a 20-year high in illegal border crossings and a deepening humanitarian crisis along the southwest border that began as soon as Biden took office in January and went about dismantling Trump’s restrictive border policies.

In a memo, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the program, formally called the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), did not “adequately or sustainably enhance border management.” What could this mean? It certainly doesn’t mean that MPP wasn’t working, since apprehensions at the border plummeted after its implementation and only spiked after Biden paused the program, signaling to the world that if you can get across the Rio Grande, you can stay.

What Mayorkas means is that under the program, too few migrants were getting into the US, and many more were being deterred from making the journey north from Central America and Mexico to begin with, knowing that they would have to wait in Mexico, often under harsh and dangerous circumstances, pending the outcome of their asylum case. Given those options, many of them decided not to come.

In the Biden administration’s tortured logic, such deterrent policies amounted to a “broken” immigration system. We’ve heard this time and again from the administration, that Biden inherited from Trump a “dismantled” asylum system and that the task now is to rebuild a workable and sustainable way to manage the border.

This is nonsense. Trump’s border policies might have seemed drastic after decades of feckless border policies from both parties, but they were also effective — if your goal was to secure the border against illegal crossings. By that measure, Trump succeeded where others had failed. You don’t have to turn away that many people at the border before word gets back to the sending communities that the trip isn’t worth it.

What Biden wants is a return to the status quo, which means letting in almost anyone who claims asylum, however flimsy their case might be. The border crisis triggered in 2019 happened largely because Central American families were exploiting a loophole in US asylum law that allows asylum-seekers to be released into the US pending the outcome of their case. These cases take years to adjudicate, which means that anyone who crossed the border with a child could claim asylum and be released within a few days. It was a huge incentive, and it drew people from all over the world.

Now the incentives are back, bringing near-record numbers of migrants to the border.

Democrats don’t care — they see today’s illegal immigrants as tomorrow’s liberal voters, and consider any border restrictions as somehow racist. But they know that a majority of Americans don’t agree with these policies. That’s why Vice President Kamala Harris, whom Biden tapped to lead the administration’s response, is scrambling to disassociate herself with the fiasco unfolding along the Rio Grande and has yet to visit the border. Biden doesn’t want Americans to pay attention to what’s happening there — and Harris doesn’t want to be saddled with the blame.

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