The US Should Abandon the Fantasy of Sealing the BorderBreaking News
tags: immigration, Border Patrol
Dara Lind is a senior fellow at the American Immigration Council.
How did President Biden go from denouncing the immigration policies of his predecessor to following in his footsteps by proposing a regulation that would make the vast majority of current asylum seekers ineligible? How did he go from decrying the detention of immigrant families to contemplating the mass use of it?
The answer is simple: The numbers went up. Current U.S. border policy — under a fig leaf known as Title 42, a statute activated under a Covid public health order that just about everyone candidly agrees isn’t about public health — puts most border crossers at risk of summary expulsion without any chance to seek asylum. Despite that, last year apprehension levels hit 20-year highs. With the planned expiration of the Title 42 order this spring, the Biden administration is pre-emptively on a crisis footing, rushing to ensure that it will have a crackdown ready for an anticipated surge of asylum seekers.
And that’s exactly the problem. The United States has been intermittently on crisis footing at the border for the past decade. Each administration keeps cycling restlessly through the same few ideas. A family detention facility that Mr. Biden might reopen was built under Barack Obama. The recently proposed regulation — which would essentially withhold asylum from anyone crossing into the United States illegally — is a variation on a proposal from Donald Trump.
The federal government is patently out of ideas. What makes this so frustrating is that it’s not hard to imagine other, better ways to evaluate the health of our immigration system and to improve it.
But we are now stuck in a border-crisis version of “Groundhog Day.” Border apprehensions go up; the administration panics and enacts harsher enforcement; apprehensions decline; the administration declares victory; border apprehensions go up again.
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