- - Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Defeating COVID-19 is all about controlling the spread of disease. As President Biden assumes command of the fight against the pandemic, he must resist relaxed immigration policies that open the nation to fresh viral infection. 

The president on Tuesday announced immigration reforms meant to reunite separated children with their parents, mitigate destabilizing forces that drive migrants from their home nations, and provide legal aid to asylum-seekers. His plans promise to smooth the flow of immigrants into the United States, but his 888-word summary contains not one syllable about halting the virus, which has killed upward of 450,000 Americans, from entering with them. 

In his haste to enact his agenda, Mr. Biden should avoid the critical mistake of removing Trump-era immigration-restricting health regulations. Title 42 of the U.S. Code grants the Department of Health and Human Services authority to examine immigrants for communicable diseases before authorizing admission to the United States. 

The Trump-era Centers for Disease Control and Prevention utilized Title 42 to mandate the quick return of most illegal border-crossers to Mexico during the pandemic. Were Mr. Biden to end that policy without a means to ensuring entrants are virus-free, Americans could see thousands of virus carriers enter the country and reverse progress in controlling fatalities that peaked at nearly 4,000 a day in January. 

Illegals currently in the U.S. have access to coronavirus treatment and vaccine as a public health imperative, and rightly so. However, inoculating thousands waiting at the border while U.S. citizens go without the vaccine would be unjust.

The danger of infection by migration is not far-fetched. Mr. Biden has already made unwise moves to unlock the nation’s door, including a halt of border wall construction and an attempt to impose a 100-day moratorium on all deportations. Fortunately, a federal judge granted an injunction requested by Texas to block the deportation freeze, ruling the administration lacked “concrete, reasonable justification for a 100-day pause on deportations.”

Disappointed deportees, added to crowds of expectant migrants drawn north by word that Mr. Biden will grant easy entry to the U.S., has created “a kind of pent-up frustration, with a lot of rumors swirling, and talk about just charging over the border anyway,” Todd Bensman, Center for Immigration Security senior fellow, told NewsMax TV on Monday. 

Moreover, congressional Democrats are urging the president to seize the pandemic as an opportunity for granting citizenship to up to 5 million illegal immigrants as a provision of a proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief budget. Among those who should be included, says the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, would be individuals brought illegally into the U.S. as children, the so-called “Dreamers,” and illegals who are employed as “essential” workers. 

In his inaugural address, President Biden said, “We must set aside the politics and finally face this pandemic as one nation.” The president should lead an example and resist immigration policies that could threaten the well-being of law-abiding Americans. 

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