Viewpoint: Averting border ‘invasion,’ Biden policies halt surge

Viewpoint: Averting border ‘invasion,’ Biden policies halt surge
Karen Rubin, Columnist

Wow, this is what a competent government looks like! Yes, the debt ceiling catastrophe averted. But what I am referring to is that the catastrophic chaos that Republicans were hyping and hoping for at the southern border after Title 42 was lifted did not materialize.

Instead rational, effective procedures, programs and personnel were set up across government departments and the “invasion” not only did not materialize, but the numbers of migrants entering came down by 70 percent to 3,000 a day from the more than 10,000 daily just three weeks before.

There were projections that the numbers would swell to 15,000 after the court-ordered end of Title 42 COVID ban on May 11.

The number of migrants illegally crossing the southwest U.S. border is at its lowest point since the start of the Biden administration. And instead of an estimated 65,000 migrants living in shelters and tent cities in Mexico poised to enter the United States, the number fell to 20,000.

This didn’t happen by chance. It is a testament to the effectiveness of the Biden-Harris administration’s programs, using the tools of the State Department, Homeland Security and Defense Department to take steps to manage the border in a safe, orderly and humane manner – which should provide a model going forward.

The Biden administration spent months preparing by:

  • Opening Regional Processing Centers in key locations in the Western Hemisphere to reduce irregular migration and rapidly process eligible individuals for lawful pathways to the United States, Canada, Spain and other countries
  • Sending Panamanian, Colombian and American personnel to the Darien to root out the criminal smuggling networks
  • Ramping up efforts to counter lies and disinformation spread by human traffickers through sophisticated, targeted social media advertising campaigns and collaboration with independent influencers throughout the region
  • Expanding access to the CBPOne App for noncitizens to schedule an appointment to arrive at a port of entry rather than trying to enter between ports
  • Creating new family reunification parole processes for El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Colombia as an additional lawful pathway
  • Doubling the number of refugees from the Western Hemisphere as an additional lawful pathway
  • Accepting up to 30,000 individuals per month from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and Haiti as part of the expanded parole processes announced earlier this year
  • Imposing severe consequences for migrants who fail to use lawful pathways, including a five-year bar on re-entry and presumption of ineligibility for asylum under a proposed regulation

The Biden-Harris administration’s plan also relied on diplomacy, securing repatriation agreements from countries in the Western Hemisphere, including Mexico, to quickly remove individuals who cannot be returned to their countries of origin; stepping up joint enforcement actions to counter-human smugglers and traffickers and redoubling development efforts that focus on people-to-people support.

Hardly “open borders.” Hardly the “invasion” or the “chaos” that Republicans still use to fear-monger. If anything, by continuing to propagate the lie about “open borders,” the Republicans are incentivizing people to come by contradicting the message campaign the administration has been sending to these areas that the borders are not open.  This way  people do not give up their life savings to a smuggler in the hopes of coming to the U.S.

If you don’t want migrants and asylum seekers being a burden on local communities, or worse, disappearing into the shadows altogether, doesn’t it make sense to allocate the resources so they can be immediately interviewed for eligibility and vetted for security risk? They can be given a court date and location, tracked where they go, organized where they should go (do they have family, community already? A job prospect?), given Temporary Protected Status and work permit so they are not a  drain on public resources and even better, ease the labor shortage which is driving inflation.

Actually, that is what the Biden administration is doing by expanding the parole process so that up to 30,000 individuals per month from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Cuba who have an eligible sponsor and pass vetting and background checks can come to the United States for two years and receive work authorization. On the other hand, individuals who unlawfully cross the border become ineligible for the parole process and will be subject to expulsion to Mexico.

What the administration should be doing next is using the powers of technology to better organize (and keep track of) where migrants go, so migrants can get to places where they have family or community already.  This will enable them to work with local organizations on housing and legal (albeit temporary) work visas so they are not burdens on the local community but can be productive members.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams, wrestling with the burden of 67,000 migrants being dumped on the city’s doorstep, declared,  “We got 108,000 cities and towns and villages,” Adams said. “Why aren’t we spreading this out throughout the entire country?”

Why wouldn’t you do that unless your objective is to make the migrant situation as miserable, cruel and chaotic as possible for political gain?

Republican governors, including Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida, are literally dumping unvetted migrants on the doorstep of blue states and cities, while 20 states sue to overturn the administration’s parole system that has been so effective in organizing legal entry.

Nassau and Suffolk County executives are suing to keep out people instead of working together. (Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman was tickled pink to have a photo op with Ukrainians who sought refuge in the county from Russia’s brutal assault, but never misses an opportunity to join the chorus propagating the “open border/fentanyl!” lie and the Republican effort to use lawsuits to prevent rational, effective immigration/asylum policy.

Notably, a federal judge blocked orders issued by Orange and Rockland counties forbidding New York City from relocating any migrants into their counties, citing public remarks by the counties’ executives he said suggested unlawful and unconstitutional discrimination, Newsday reported.

“A successful border management strategy must include robust enforcement at the border of illegal crossings, deterrence to discourage illegal immigration, and legal pathways to ensure that those in need of protection are not turned away to face death or serious harm,” Biden declared.

“However, the administration is limited in what it can achieve by an outdated statutory framework and inadequate resources, particularly in this time of unprecedented global movement,” he said.

On his first day as president, Biden introduced Comprehensive Immigration legislation to fix the decades-long broken, dysfunctional immigration system.

On May 11, the day Title 42 ended, he reintroduced it.

It’s time for Congress to act.

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