Over the weekend, Michael Barone asked an interesting question in an op-ed at the New York Post. There is more than ample evidence that we have reached a crisis point on our southern border and the country has taken notice of it. Fears are regularly expressed about the number of illegal aliens being released into the country’s interior and how many of them are testing positive for COVID. This flood of humanity is rising dramatically after something of a lull over the past few years and it’s disingenuous to suggest that Joe Biden’s announcement that the coast is clear and deportations would be largely coming to an end wasn’t responsible for much of it. These are not popular positions in many parts of the country, particularly in the border regions most affected by it. So why does he keep pushing us in this direction? As Barone notes, based on the administration’s reluctance to discuss these policies in detail with the public, it already seems obvious that even Biden’s own team is aware of what a political clunker this is.
This reluctance to defend and unwillingness to explain a policy that is being put in place by facts on the ground suggests a suspicion that it’s widely unpopular. Candidate Biden made it clear he wanted a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million already in the country illegally, and administration actions now invite many more to come in illegally.
This, at a time when it isn’t clear that the nation needs a new influx of relatively low-skill immigrants. The housing crisis of 2007-08 reduced net migration from Mexico to zero for several years, and it has never rebounded to 1982-2007 levels. The Trump policies, after some stumbles and adverse court decisions, curtailed Central American inflow.
The result is that total immigration flow has tilted toward Asia and has produced a higher percentage of high-skill immigrants — just what those on both sides of immigration arguments have said they want. Now Biden is pursuing a policy that will tend to hold down low-skill wages at a time when many have been involuntarily unemployed for months. Why?
You don’t need to look further than current polling to understand that Biden misread this situation badly. More than 70% of respondents recently said that the situation at the southern border was either a “crisis” or a “major problem.” Another serious bone of contention is the fact that we have not yet fully recovered from all of the job losses we sustained because of the pandemic. This is just about the worst time imaginable to begin flooding the country with huge numbers of primarily low-skill workers who will almost certainly be illegally competing for any available jobs.
Liberals love to point out other polls showing that Americans are quite comfortable with welcoming immigrants into the country and a significant number of them are even in favor of increasing our immigration quotas. But that’s a disingenuous argument because most people are talking about legal immigration. I rarely hear people complaining about those who follow the rules, come to our country legally, and pursue careers and eventual naturalization. Conflating legal and illegal immigration is a frequently practiced bit of deception in these debates.
Views on those who sneak into the country illegally are different and amnesty isn’t nearly as popular as Joe Biden seems to think it is. When it comes to questions of extending rights to illegal aliens, such as the right to vote, polls in the past couple of years show that significant majorities remain opposed to it.
So what’s going on inside the West Wing these days? Joe Biden seems bound and determined to push through policies that will almost certainly come back to bite him down the line, potentially as soon as the next midterms. Is this just a case of having made promises to the open borders advocates in his base and being afraid to revisit those ideas now? If he did, he wouldn’t be the first president to walk back from the edge of the cliff when an idea wasn’t panning out. And what are his supporters going to do if he can’t deliver… begin demanding that Donald Trump come back?
Perhaps we’ll get some answers to these questions if and when Joe Biden ever holds a press conference. Of course, that would depend on someone in the press corps being willing to ask the question in the first place, and I wouldn’t bet the farm on that.