Where Does He Go From Here?

Mark Krikorian looks skeptically at the Biden Administration’s handling of what very nearly everybody agrees is a crisis on our border with Mexico in this post at RealClearPolicy:

But the White House realizes it has to do something to try to slow the flow. So the administration has settled on three initiatives it hopes will remove the border crisis from the headlines. None of them is likely to work, but they’re worth looking at in turn.

The first, immediate, response has been to try to get Mexico to do what the Biden administration is unwilling to do. The White House is sending some 2.5 million vaccine doses to Mexico in exchange for a promised crackdown on Central Americans headed north. (The denial of a quid pro quo is not to be taken seriously.)

Vice President Harris consulted with Mexico’s president last week about what can only be described as a bribe to get Mexico to, as the Washington Post blandly put it, “carry out immigration enforcement functions at a time when such measures are subject to frequent legal challenges in U.S. courts or politically unpalatable to Democrats.” Or, as immigration analyst Cris Ramon told the New York Times, “All the positive humanitarian policies are being done by the Biden administration, and then the Mexicans are left with the dirty work.”

But can outsourcing the protection of America’s borders to our southern neighbor actually work? President Trump famously got Mexican cooperation on border enforcement by threatening trade sanctions — a threat Mexican authorities took seriously because they rightly feared that Trump would follow through. But that cooperation worked to the degree it did because both U.S. policy and Mexico’s were pulling in the same direction. Mexico’s National Guard would make it hard to get past its own southern border with Guatemala, but if you did get past them, the American authorities would also turn you away.

Under Biden however, Mexican and American policies point in opposite directions, negating much of the effect of Mexican enforcement efforts. Biden is putting Mexico in the position of the Wal-Mart security guard tasked with controlling the crowds desperate to get in for the Black Friday deals.

So long as the administration’s actions send the message that migrants have a good chance of being released into the U.S. (and virtually no chance of ever being removed), migrants will devise ways around any Mexican interdiction effort.

He continues by considering the prospects for addressing the “root causes” of migration from Central America which he lists as “poverty, corruption, disorder, and ineffectual governance”. I’m a bit more cynical than that. I don’t think you can separate having been a Spanish colony from those ills and try as we might there’s nothing we can do about that. The third “prong” he considers is expediting the migration:

The final prong of the Biden administration’s plan to push the border crisis out of the news is to simply fly Central Americans straight to the U.S. in large enough numbers that people there will just wait their turn rather than try to sneak across the border.

This is a revival of what began under President Obama as the Central American Minors refugee/parole program in 2014 at the beginning of the border crisis that still plagues us. The hope was that this would provide Central Americans who had some sort of legal status in the U.S. an avenue to bring their children here without having to hire smugglers to cross the border.

But it failed to make a dent in the flow — a smaller flow than we face now, but rightly considered alarming nonetheless. The main reason was that it was designed for children and other relatives of people with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or some other non-green-card forms of provisional residence. That’s a problem because the overwhelming majority of people in the U.S. hiring smugglers to bring their “unaccompanied” “minor” relatives from Central America are themselves illegal aliens.

So even when the Obama administration expanded the CAM program in 2016 to cover adult sons and daughters back in Central America, and even adult “caregivers,” the number of people who qualified was still a drop in the bucket compared to the overall flow.

It doesn’t help that the highest unemployment in the U. S. is already in the sectors that previously had been most likely to employ these economic migrants.

I have multiple concerns about the Biden Administration’s feckless handling of the situation including I’m concerned that it may poison the well, i.e. allowing many low-skilled economic migrants with limited educations and command of English may sour Americans on admitting actual political refugees or immigrants we actually want to encourage to come here. I don’t think that the reality that we’re nearing or at the highest proportion of immigrant policy in the nation’s history right now is irrelevant. If there’s a maximum level of tolerance, it may provoke a reaction.

2 comments… add one
  • bob sykes Link

    “Vice President Harris consulted with Mexico’s president last week”

    I think that’s actually a bigger issue. Harris is the contact person in this administration for foreign heads of state. That is contrary to all protocol. Biden’s senility is apparently so advanced that the Administration (whoever it is) cannot trust him to take important telephone calls.

  • Drew Link

    “…allowing many low-skilled economic migrants with limited educations and command of English may sour Americans on admitting actual political refugees or immigrants we actually want to encourage to come here>”

    The issue, and the boneheaded responses are well known. So no comment there. But that quote is spot on. This is always the problem with ill conceived policies and a rather cavalier response to them: it crowds out what one should really be concerned with.

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