I’m pleasantly surprised today to see the Sunday shows not only giving the border crisis the attention it deserves — it was the top story on most programs — but being justifiably hard on Team Biden for their half-assed handling of it. Especially ABC, which had no patience for the White House narrative that the surge of migrant children has nothing to do with Biden’s policies or the perception abroad that he’ll be soft on those who make it across. Watch this:
ABC's Martha Raddatz to illegal alien who crossed the border: "Would you have tried to do this when Donald Trump was president?"
Illegal alien: "Definitely not."
Raddatz: “Did you come here because Joe Biden was elected president?"
Illegal: “Basically” pic.twitter.com/OsxvdG8xO0
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) March 21, 2021
The “This Week” panel wasn’t having it either:
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) March 21, 2021
Host Martha Raddatz also confronted DHS chief Alejandro Mayorkas in an interview about the fact that the Biden administration was warned that changing Trump-era policies on admitting asylum-seekers would risk a massive surge at the border and chose to proceed anyway. Read this long but worthwhile Washington Post story about the crisis if you can spare the time, as it fleshes out the claim that Team Joe went into this with its eyes open about what would happen once they began admitting children again:
During the transition period, career officials at U.S. Customs and Border Protection tried to issue sober alarms to the Biden team about the likelihood of a crisis at the border that could quickly overwhelm the nation’s capacity. Senior CBP officials delivered Zoom briefings to the Biden transition team that included modeling projections showing a steep increase in the arrival of unaccompanied minors if Trump’s policies were suddenly lifted, according to one current and two former Department of Homeland Security officials…
Biden transition officials understood the risks, as well, identifying a surge of unaccompanied minors and a dearth of shelter space exacerbated by the pandemic as the most pressing problems.
Yet Biden immediately embarked on an aggressive strategy to roll back Trump administration policies…
But Biden did not have adequate preparations in place when he began rolling back some of Trump’s policies and sounding a welcoming note. Even some Biden allies said they had expected the White House to use the coronavirus crisis to buy themselves time to implement a more robust immigration plan before beginning wholesale policy changes, and were taken aback when Biden forged ahead.
Result: More than 15,000 unaccompanied children are now in federal custody, including 5,000 in the custody of the Border Patrol rather than HHS — nearly twice the previous record. The crunch is so overwhelming that, according to Fox News’s sources, the Border Patrol is considering doing something it’s never done before as it struggles to cope:
Fox News has learned from a senior source with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that a plan is under consideration for Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley Sector (RGV) to begin releasing illegal border crossers who claim asylum without issuing a Notice to Appear (NTA) – meaning they will depart custody without a court date.
Such a decision would be unprecedented if enacted and would place the responsibility of seeking an asylum hearing on the migrants through Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or legal assistance.
The source says the reasoning for the decision is that the situation has “become so dire that BP [Border Patrol] has no choice but to release people nearly immediately after apprehension because there is no space to hold people even to do necessary NTA paperwork.”
In other words, it’ll be catch-and-release without even the pretense of an adjudication later. Effectively, we’ll be waving migrants into the country without any attempt to keep track of them once they’re here. That’s true open borders.
This morning Chuck Todd pointedly called this a “political crisis,” using a word the White House has strained to avoid. Mayorkas appeared on multiple shows, including Todd’s, to try to assure viewers that all is well and to reiterate his message to migrants that they shouldn’t come — yet. But look at how absurdly mixed that message is:
WATCH: DHS Sec. Mayorkas tells @chucktodd the "border is closed." #MTP@SecMayorkas: "We are expelling families, we are expelling single adults and we have made a decision that we will not expel young, vulnerable children." pic.twitter.com/OUsNj66eh7
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) March 21, 2021
Don’t come and don’t send your children … but if you choose to ignore that advice and send your kids anyway, rest assured that they’ll be well taken care of. That’s the “deterrent” message being promoted right now by DHS. The Post notes that Dem Rep. Henry Cuellar recently visited a shelter for detained migrant teens and asked them if they had heard Biden and his deputies warning people not to come to the border. They gave him funny looks and said no. So where’d they get the idea that it was okay to make the journey? “They said, ‘We see this on TV. We see images of people coming across. . . . We see people coming across, so we’re going to do the same thing,'” Cueller told the Post. Word got around down south that kids are being admitted despite the blather from Mayorkas et al. that they’re unwelcome (for the moment). Actions spoke louder than words. Go figure.
What Mayorkas wants to see happen here long-term is children and their families applying for asylum from their home countries. That way, if their application is rejected, they don’t ever end up making the trip north. But only a sucker would be content to stay put and apply that way knowing that kids who make the journey right now are being allowed into the U.S. and can always disappear into the country if their asylum application is turned down while they’re present. Unless and until Biden is prepared to start turning children away and forcing them to apply remotely, the crisis will get worse. And at the moment there’s no reason to think his administration isn’t fine with that.