One big part of controlling illegal immigration must be to police the border. But Biden has already promised not to build any more of Trump’s big, beautiful, woefully incomplete wall — even though border fencing is a simple and effective way to keep people from crossing a border without authorization. Instead he wants to try other technologies, asking the Department of Homeland Security to figure out the particulars. There’s nothing wrong with expanding and experimenting with these approaches, of course, but this is not a great trade for amnesty. There’s simply too big a risk that it won’t work or won’t even really be tried. As it happens, Biden’s pick to head DHS has already come under fire for being too soft on immigration; in fact, he was the architect of the illegal “deferred-action” program for Dreamers who came to the country illegally as minors (which Biden is also preserving).
The other key aspect of controlling illegal immigration is interior enforcement: Many illegal immigrants come legally but overstay their visas, meaning they can’t be stopped at the border, and many employers are happy to hire illegal workers. Conservatives have long wanted to require employers to use a computer program called “E-Verify” to make sure every hire is here legally, but there’s no sign of this from Biden.
The amnesty side of his proposal is nowhere near this weak. It would be available to millions of illegal immigrants who were in the country before January 1, so long as they passed a background check and paid taxes. Over eight years they could progress from a temporary legal status to green cards and citizenship; Dreamers, as well as some other categories such as agricultural workers, would have a faster route.