How can a president known for his empathy fail so miserably in addressing the humanitarian crisis facing our nation’s southern border?
Aside from the more than 172,000 people who attempted illegal entry along the southwest border in March alone, some 19,000 migrant children — six times the number of the previous March — the majority of whom are now stranded in overcrowded Custom and Border Patrol facilities. These children are sleeping on foil mats, within inches of each other and allowed only one shower per week. In some cases these are worse conditions than the very countries they’ve escaped.
As a legal immigrant, what frustrates me is that as the emergency on our southern border worsens by the hour, congressional Democrats passed two bills last month that would grant a path to citizenship to some 4 million undocumented illegals. On the very same day that the White House encouraged a “yes” vote on these bills, President Biden took to national television to proclaim that migrants should not come to our southern border.
Talk about mixed messaging.
Not surprisingly, this is the same open border policy talk we heard from President Obama in 2015 that created a humanitarian crisis at our southern border by incentivizing a massive wave of child trafficking. Instead of getting the better life they were promised, some Guatemalan children were exploited and forced into labor camps in Ohio under the threat of physical harm. Two adults received prison sentences for these crimes.
Within hours of being sworn in as president, Mr. Biden signed five executive orders that reversed former President Trump’s policies, including stopping construction of the wall, resurrecting the Obama-era “Catch and Release” program and doing away with the “Remain in Mexico” policy. Yet despite encouraging migrant youth to cross our southern border illegally, he never had a plan in place to handle the predictable crisis that would result.
As The Washington Post reported, every migrant interviewed at our border shows optimism. “We see this on TV. We see people coming across, so we’re going to do the same thing. This is our opportunity to do this.” In another interview with ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, “Would you have tried to do this when Donald Trump was president?” the migrant responded, “Definitely not.”
To date, neither President Biden nor the person he has tasked with overseeing this blunder, Vice President Kamala Harris has yet to see the southern border first-hand and for good reason. This administration does not want the White House press pool reporting on the disaster that his rhetoric and encouragement of migrants to our southern border has caused.
Mr. Biden has restricted Border Patrol agents and sector chiefs from sharing information with the media. This means no ride-alongs and no photos, which means no transparency for the self-proclaimed “most transparent” administration. As a reminder, Mr. Trump never restricted the media to tour facilities for separated children even at its peak in 2018.
What should frustrate every American is the failure to develop any coherent strategy on immigration policy. Under Democrat leadership, legal immigrants like me and my family get a slap in the face for abiding by U.S. laws that require waiting as long as two decades and spending tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees while contributing back into the system and paying our taxes. Yet those who skip the line and come here illegally don’t even get a slap on the wrist. If the Democrats get what they want, illegals may become U.S. citizens far faster than immigrants who respect our laws.
Case in point: Last week, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would no longer impose fines on people who are in the United State illegally, who have been ordered by a judge to leave the country and who refuse to go, despite ICE having had this authority for more than 20 years, under both Democrat and Republican administrations.
If we are nothing, we are a country of laws. As a lawyer, and as someone who waited my turn when we immigrated, I applaud Mr. Trump for his defense of our borders and ensuring that our laws are complied with. As much as he may be loath to do it, Mr. Biden should finish completing the wall, ceasing “Catch and Release” and requiring that migrants abide by the “Remain in Mexico” policy until their immigration hearing.
As this crisis worsens by the day and congressional Democrats’ outcry grows louder over the conditions on our southern border, Mr. Biden should know that not every policy position taken by the previous administration is bad policy simply because it has Donald Trump’s name on it.
• Amanda Makki was a 2020 Republican candidate in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. She is a lawyer who worked in Congress for a decade as a health care policy adviser and at the Pentagon just weeks after 9/11. She is a native Farsi speaker and lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. She tweets at @amandamakki.