I’m surprised to see him be this blunt on a point that’s strongly disfavored by the Biden White House, and not for the first time. “They see him as the migrant president, and so many feel they’re going to reach the United States,” said Andres Manuel Lopez-Obrador a few weeks ago of Sleepy Joe after meeting with him virtually about immigration. Biden took polite exception to that. “I heard the other day that they’re coming because they know I’m a nice guy,” Biden told ABC. “Here’s the deal, they’re not.” At which point George Stephanopoulos interjected to inform him that some migrants themselves have confirmed for reporters that they felt encouraged by Biden’s accession to the presidency to try for asylum.
Which was true. They have.
Lopez Obrador was asked about it again yesterday and didn’t back down. If you want to know what’s enticing people to come, he said, look at the “expectations” Biden has set.
AMLO: "Expectations were created that with the Government of President Biden there would be a better treatment of migrants. And this has caused Central American migrants, and also from our country, wanting to cross the border thinking that it is easier to do so" pic.twitter.com/TNrZQamuWK
— José Díaz-Briseño (@diazbriseno) March 23, 2021
The White House has asked migrants not to come during television appearances by various deputies but their policies belie that message. One of Biden’s first proposals as president was a massive amnesty bill that had no hope of passing the Senate but signaled to people abroad that his administration would receive immigrants much more warmly than Trump’s did. He quickly reversed Trump’s pandemic regulations barring unaccompanied minors from entering the U.S. to seek asylum, essentially opening the border to children. And his own DHS chief continues to reassure foreigners in interviews that Team Joe is scrambling to set up a bureaucracy to process many more asylum applications than they’re currently doing. Even when they check the box by asking kids not to come yet, they’re quick to say that children will be treated well if they defy that advice and come anyway. They were in such a rush to get the asylum line moving again, in fact, that they didn’t bother to add to HHS’s capacity for sheltering children arriving at the border before they started lifting Trump’s policies.
So why wouldn’t migrant families have “expectations” that they’ll be allowed in? After all, many are being allowed in
Another talking point circulating among the White House and its progressive apologists lately is that there’s no “crisis” right now because there’s always a seasonal upswing in immigration as the weather warms. Which is true — but not like this:
Imagine what the numbers would be like if the U.S. and Mexico weren’t both still mired in deadly pandemics. “Expectations” among Central American kids and their families are so high that they’re willing to risk COVID to get here.
Team Joe is reportedly considering new strategies to try to deter them — e.g., allowing them to apply for asylum from abroad and running radio ads in their home countries about the border being closed — but border-state Democrats are getting nervous.
During a closed-door virtual retreat with Democratic senators on Monday evening, Biden was pressed on the issue by at least one member of his own party, according to officials familiar with the discussion.
Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) asked Biden what the administration’s timeline was for additional resources and facilities to manage the increase in the number of migrants at the border, as well as coronavirus testing protocols there.
Kelly, a border-state freshman who is likely to face a tough reelection challenge in 2022, told Biden he was concerned that the state’s resources could become strained under the migration challenges.
In response, Biden did not delve into specifics but stressed to the senators that his administration was building additional capacity to care for the migrants, and that the current challenges began under his predecessor.
Why would anyone capable of traveling north to the U.S. choose to stay put and apply for asylum where they are? The point of asylum is that it’s too dangerous to remain in your home country. You need to leave immediately for your own safety and seek refuge elsewhere. Inasmuch as an asylum application is legit, the applicant doesn’t have the benefit of hanging around where he’s from while it’s processed. And inasmuch as it isn’t legit, he’d be a chump to apply from his own country and risk rejection instead of coming to the U.S., being admitted, and figuring out a way to remain here, legally or not, once he’s in.
As I say, though, it’s a surprise that Lopez-Obrador would single Biden out this way. They just reached a deal in which the U.S. will send vaccines to Mexico in return for Mexico agreeing to accept more families expelled by the U.S. at the border. AMLO must think he has the leverage in this relationship or else he wouldn’t choose to alienate Biden by undermining his claim that he’s not responsible for the border crisis. And he does have the leverage, right? He knows the American left won’t allow Sleepy Joe to get tough with Mexico about immigration. If Lopez-Obrador decides he won’t accept any more rejects from the U.S., there’ll be only one place for them to go as far as progressives are concerned. The pro-amnesty lobby has the momentum now, and AMLO recognizes it.
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