Biden's Key Policy Changes That Transformed America's Borders

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Tuesday, Feb 27, 2024 - 12:40 AM

Authored by Emel Akan and Lawrence Wilson via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

President Joe Biden took office with a commitment to overturn the previous administration’s immigration policies, calling them “cruel and reckless.” He emphasized that his plan would establish a “fair, orderly, and humane” immigration system while implementing smarter measures to secure the border.

(Illustration by The Epoch Times, Getty Images, Shutterstock)

But his administration is now grappling with a historic crisis.

Republicans blame President Biden for eliminating and reversing policies put in place by the Trump administration.

Many people, including those in the liberal media, have also pointed fingers at the Biden administration for the crisis that has now spread to large cities around the country.

Polling suggests that American voters trust former President Donald Trump—the Republican frontrunner in November’s election—more than President Biden on immigration and border-security issues. According to the Pew Research Center, 80 percent of Americans, including 73 percent of Democrats, think the U.S. government has done a bad job of handling the illegal immigrant influx.

The illegal immigrant surge has escalated significantly throughout President Biden’s presidency, shattering record after record. The past six months of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data show it’s getting worse.

As taxpayer expenses pile up, communities nationwide are feeling the strain. And there seems to be no end in sight.

So how did we get here?

2019: The Campaign Trail

President Biden’s pledges to potential illegal immigrants began early in his campaign.

During a Democratic primary debate on June 27, 2019, candidate Biden raised his hand when the host asked if his government health care plan would provide coverage for illegal immigrants.

He raised his hand again when the host said, “Raise your hand if you think it should be a civil offense rather than a crime to cross the border without documentation.”

The host then specifically asked Mr. Biden if someone who is here illegally should be deported if that is his or her only offense.

(L–R) Democratic presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Sen. Kamala Harris participate in a Democratic primary debate in Miami on June 27, 2019. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

That person should not be the focus of deportation,” Mr. Biden responded.

A couple of months later, during another debate on Sept. 12, 2019, Mr. Biden said: “I would, in fact, make sure that there is, that we immediately surge to the border all those people who are seeking asylum. They deserve to be heard. That’s who we are. We’re a nation that says, ‘If you want to flee, and you’re fleeing oppression, you should come.’”

January 2021: Biden Ends National Emergency

To fulfill his campaign promises, President Biden has implemented more than 500 actions on immigration in the first three years of his presidency, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

To better understand the reasons behind the surge at the southern border, critics say, it’s important to review the actions the president took on his first day in office.

On Jan. 20, 2021, President Biden ended President Trump’s national emergency declaration on the border, which called for the construction of a border wall.

President Biden halted the construction, calling it “a waste of money.” He also declared that no more taxpayer dollars would be diverted to wall-construction projects, despite already-allocated congressional funds for the project.

He also reversed a ban on travelers from terror-prone countries. The ban, imposed during the Trump administration, barred people from entering the United States from certain terror hotspots that didn’t provide robust security background checks on prospective travelers. President Biden stated that these bans were inconsistent with American values.

A few months later, The Epoch Times reported that Border Patrol agents had apprehended two Yemeni men who were on the FBI’s terrorism watch list and the no-fly list.

Also on his first day in office, President Biden suspended deportations of illegal aliens for 100 days. The policy applied to almost everyone who entered the country illegally before November 2020. A week later, however, a federal judge in Texas blocked the policy.

With another executive order issued on his first day in office, the president strengthened the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for children who were brought into the country illegally.

On day one, the administration also stopped adding illegal immigrants to the “Remain in Mexico” program. The Trump administration implemented the program, which required asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico until their U.S. immigration court date, at end of 2019. The program has been touted by border-security advocates as the most effective for stemming illegal immigration because it ended “catch-and-release,” the practice in which illegal immigrants are released into the interior of the United States with a court date potentially many years down the road.

Illegal immigrants from Haiti walk from Mexico through a gap in the border wall into the United States in Yuma, Ariz., on Dec. 10, 2021. Many are trying to get into the United States before the Remain in Mexico program restarts. The policy requires asylum seekers to stay in Mexico during their U.S. immigration court process. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Biden Introduces Immigration Reform Plan

On his first day in office, President Biden introduced the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, which he referred to as a “comprehensive immigration reform plan.” The bill included an array of changes to existing law that would have made it quicker and easier for those who enter the country legally to gain citizenship and, in a sweeping amnesty, would have provided a pathway to citizenship for millions of people who had entered the country illegally.

The bill offered little to decrease the flow of illegal immigrants into the country apart from requiring the Department of State to “advance reforms in Central America” to address the reasons people are migrating to the United States and to create refugee-processing centers in the region.

President Biden has said Republicans in Congress blocked the bill. But Democrats, who controlled both the House and the Senate in 2021, made no apparent effort to advance the bill, and it died in committee in both chambers, never receiving a hearing.

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, slammed President Biden’s U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, calling it “the most radical piece of immigration legislation” and saying that it seeks to reward illegal aliens at the expense of Americans.

In a report, the organization criticized the bill for prioritizing “illegal aliens, smugglers, cartels, and gangs” over border security.

February 2021: New Asylum Policy

Thirteen days later, President Biden signed three more orders, including loosening the criteria for asylum. He announced the restoration of asylum processing at the border and the creation of a task force to reunify any remaining families that were separated during the previous administration.

The new orders on Feb. 2 also included reversing the Trump administration’s public charge rule and developing a strategy to address “irregular migration across the southern border.”

The public charge rule required family sponsors to repay the government if noncitizen relatives received public benefits.

Republicans have blamed the Biden administration for encouraging illegal immigration by signaling a lax border policy through these executive orders.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials announced new interim guidelines on Feb. 18 for handling the arrest, detainment, and deportation of illegal immigrants.

DHS said the three priority criteria—national security, border security, and public safety—outlined in the interim guidelines are effective immediately for all Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) actions.

President Joe Biden speaks after signing several executive orders directing immigration policy changes as Vice President Kamala Harris looks on, in the Oval Office on Feb. 2, 2021. (Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)

Any ICE agent who encounters an illegal immigrant who falls outside of the three categories must get preapproval from his field office before taking any action, a DHS official said, and he must consider the following criteria: the nature and recency of a non-citizen’s convictions, the type and length of sentences imposed, whether the enforcement action is otherwise an appropriate use of ICE’s limited resources, and other relevant factors, including mitigating factors.

The mitigating factors, the official said, include consideration as to whether “someone might be suffering from serious physical or mental illness.”

“We want [ICE agents] to think about ties to the community, whether the individual has family here in the United States, U.S. citizen family members, and other considerations,” he said.

March 2021: Biden’s First Political Test

President Biden promised to develop a more humane and efficient immigration system, but this promise met with a significant test less than two months into his term with a rapid influx of unaccompanied children crossing the border illegally.

In March 2020, the Trump administration began using the COVID-19 emergency measure Title 42 to allow U.S. authorities to quickly expel illegal immigrants.

When President Biden took office, he announced that children would not be subject to the Title 42 health order. A significant uptick in unaccompanied minors was observed soon after that announcement.

Some Democrats and policy experts at the time blamed President Trump for the uptick.

Ruth Wasem, a professor of public policy at the University of Texas at Austin, argued that the spikes were attributable to a migration backlog caused by President Trump’s rigid immigration policies.

Trump basically shut down our immigration system and ended the laws on the books,” Ms. Wasem told PolitiFact in March 2021. “So there’s going to be a pent-up number of people that were waiting to come, or that were en route.

Yet, after images of unaccompanied minors in overcrowded shelters appeared in the media, President Biden found himself under fire from all sides.

“The situation we are currently facing at the southwest border is a difficult one,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a lengthy statement in March 2021. “We are tackling it. We are keeping our borders secure, enforcing our laws, and staying true to our values and principles.”

A Border Patrol agent leads illegal immigrants through farmland after they were captured by agents near the U.S.–Mexico border barrier in Yuma, Ariz., on May 21, 2022. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

February 2021 saw 9,400 unaccompanied minors, mostly from Central America, being apprehended, almost doubling the numbers from the prior months. By March 2021, the reported number had almost reached 19,000. The Epoch Times reported at the time that the average cost to care for one child in a temporary emergency facility had increased to $775 per day.

The influx of unaccompanied children has persisted in the following years, creating substantial logistical and humanitarian challenges for the administration. Since President Biden took office, the Department of Health and Human Services has received more than 370,500 unaccompanied minors, according to the agency. The department has been sheltering these children until they’re placed with a sponsor in the United States.

A New York Times report last year revealed that the agency had lost contact with one-third of illegal immigrant children since they began living with their U.S. sponsors. Some of them have ended up working dangerous factory jobs in the United States, according to the report.

Some critics argue that President Biden’s policies have also worsened human and drug trafficking. According to a study from the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, 60 percent of unaccompanied children are caught by cartels and exploited for child pornography or drug trafficking.

By the end of March, the Biden administration had moved away from sending family units back across the border using Title 42.

The Epoch Times reported at the time that the vast majority (upward of 85 percent) of family units apprehended by Border Patrol after crossing the border illegally were quickly released into the United States.

President Biden tapped Vice President Kamala Harris as “border czar.” Her role was to lead the effort to stem the flow of illegal immigration by addressing the “root causes” of migration from Central America and Mexico.

April 2021: ICE Deportations Plunge

The number of deportations conducted by ICE in April 2021 reached a historic low despite a surge in illegal crossings.

ICE carried out 2,962 deportations in April, excluding Title 42 expulsions, showcasing the limitations imposed on the agency by the Biden administration. During March, more than 172,000 illegal immigrants were apprehended along the southern border.

June 2021: Migrant Deaths Surge

With the rise in illegal immigration, the number of deaths also increased. In June, 109 bodies were recovered by Border Patrol, up from 61 in May. The majority of deaths over the summer months were due to dehydration and hyperthermia.

During President Biden’s first two years in office, deaths of illegal immigrants hit a record high. CBP recorded a total of 880 illegal immigrant deaths in fiscal year 2022, the highest number of deaths since data became available in 1998. The second-highest number on record was fiscal year 2021, with 566 deaths.

Border Patrol agents and local Imperial County law enforcement retrieve the body of a deceased illegal immigrant recovered by a California Highway Patrol helicopter from the Jacumba Mountains in Imperial County, Calif., on Oct. 6, 2022. (Allison Dinner/AFP via Getty Images)

Fall 2021: False Information and Loss of Trust

President Biden’s border policies began to strain Border Patrol agents, leading to a significant drop in morale. Some even contemplated quitting their jobs or retiring earlier than planned.

The frustration among border agents escalated in September 2021 after the Biden administration falsely accused several officers on horseback in Del Rio, Texas, of “whipping” Haitian immigrants.

DHS Secretary Mayorkas had evidence that the claim was false, but he didn’t attempt to correct the record during a press briefing at the White House. He called the images depicting the alleged abuse “horrifying” and tied them to “systemic racism.”

President Biden also blamed the horse-patrol agents, calling the incident “outrageous.”

There will be consequences,” he told reporters. “It’s an embarrassment. But beyond embarrassment, it’s dangerous; it’s wrong.

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