He needs to relax things even more, but why is he lying about his kinder, gentler approach instead of taking credit for it? Because he fears that if even a single migrant turns out to be a super-spreader or a violent criminal, he’ll face a restrictionist-led political backlash.
But this represents a profound failure to set the terms of the debate that might also turn out to be a poor political strategy. The fact is that unless Biden doubles down on Trump’s border cruelty, there will be no appeasing restrictionists. They’ll find something to blame him for no matter what. However, pushing Trump-light policies will lose him the support of immigration advocates and his progressive base, which would be far more lethal to his presidency.
So Biden should announce a date for scrapping Title 42 and get to work rebuilding the physical infrastructure to relieve overcrowding in border facilities and the legal infrastructure to quickly process asylum claims. He’s already fast-tracking the release of unaccompanied minors to their U.S. sponsors, even barring the Department of Health and Human Services, which is responsible for their care after the first 72 hours, from sharing information about the sponsors with ICE, a Trump-era policy that turned asylum into an enforcement tool. He’s also slowly started processing the asylum petitions of the 25,000 families stuck in Mexico. But he needs to do more.