More than 2 million migrants were arrested for illegally crossing the southern border in 2021, more than four times the number arrested in 2020 and double the number arrested during both the 2014 and 2019 border crises.
This migrant surge was due entirely to the lenient border enforcement policies of President Joe Biden, including his immediate announcements to end all deportations for 100 days and end President Donald Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy permanently. Biden has since drastically restricted ICE agents’ ability to arrest, detain, and deport even criminal illegal immigrants.
What little order is left on the southern border was mostly maintained by Biden’s continued use of Title 42 to turn away more than half of all migrants arrested at the border on the grounds that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had scientifically determined the migrants were a threat to spread COVID.
President Trump had used Title 42 to turn away all migrants arrested at the border, but under Biden, the science magically changed, and unaccompanied minors and select families were allowed into the country. Now, Biden is set to abandon the use of Title 42 and change the asylum process to make it much easier for migrants to win asylum claims.
The Biden administration claims its changes to the asylum system will only make the system work more efficiently and reduce the backlog of cases. Nothing could be further from the truth. The new Biden system grants “asylum officers” the power to grant asylum to migrants but not the power to deny their asylum claims. If an asylum officer does not grant a migrant asylum, then that migrant’s case just goes straight into the same backlog where all the other asylum cases now go. The new policy is just a one-way ratchet that can only increase grants of asylum.
Migrants are smart. They communicate on cell phones with family back home. This new loophole will quickly be noticed and passed throughout the world. The surge of migrants will only grow, making the current backlog even worse.
Without the ability to turn away any migrants using Title 42, the Biden administration will choose to take almost all of them into the country, where Immigration and Customs Enforcement will not have the capacity to detain them. So, almost all of them will be released into the country, either with a promise to appear in an immigration court on a certain date or to check in with a local ICE office when they reach their final destination. Because it is Biden’s policy not to try and find any of these migrants unless they commit a violent crime, almost all of them will be allowed to stay in the United States forever.
Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz knows the surge is coming, predicting that Customs and Border Protection will be forced to arrest over 8,000 migrants a day for the foreseeable future, an arrest rate more than double the 2019 border crisis.
Already more than 70% of voters believe the crisis on the southern border is a problem “that needs to be addressed immediately.” Asked specifically if “people who cross the border with Mexico illegally should be turned back to Mexico” (as was President Trump’s policy) or “released into the US with a court date” (which is Biden's policy), 71% of voters chose the Trump policy.
But Biden doesn’t seem to care what voters think. With his presidential job approval numbers already so low and his approval number on immigration even lower, the White House must feel as though voters can’t think any less of it on this issue than they already do. We’re about to find out if they are right.