The Del Rio migrant mess

If President Biden wanted to undermine his chances for immigration reform, he couldn’t do a better job than his first eight months in office. The massing of thousands of Haitians under a bridge near Del Rio, Texas, in recent days is the latest example of government failure and perverse incentives that are producing chaos at the border…

As a candidate and since taking office, Mr. Biden has given would-be migrants reason to believe that the chance to enter and work in the U.S. is worth the risk of the dangerous trip to the border. The massing of Haitians symbolizes how the migrants are now coming from across the Americas, and in many cases the world.

The problem is the incentives of American policy. U.S. law, at least as interpreted by the courts, allows migrants to claim asylum even if they are coming solely for economic reasons. They can then be released into the U.S. to work until their asylum claims are heard by overwhelmed immigration judges. Once here they know they have access to healthcare, education for their children, and in some states Covid checks (up to $15,600 in New York).