Trump Lost the Presidential Battle but Won the Immigration War

·7 min read
Alex Wong/Getty
Alex Wong/Getty

Let no one question the Biden administration’s commitment to recycling. With regard to immigrants and refugees, many of its policies are failed retreads that still carry the stench of its predecessor.

If former President Donald Trump craves vindication, that’ll do nicely. In a familiar pattern, Biden is doing the wrong thing because it’s easier. The wrong and easy thing is to bring back, as soon as Monday, the absurdly misnamed Migrant Protection Protocols—more commonly known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy.

Trump pushed the policy, devised by Stephen Miller, to wash his hands of the refugee crisis on our southern border. The thinking was: Just let Mexico deal with it. No surprise there. Americans always look to Mexicans to do their dirty work.

So naturally Trump—whose Mar-A-Lago resort in Palm Beach has been busted for hiring illegal immigrants—figured he could stick Mexico with the messy task of caring for the huddled masses who apply for refugee status in the United States as their cases work their way through the immigration courts.

Keep in mind that America’s whole system is rigged against asylum seekers. Typically, only one in four asylum applicants will get the golden ticket that lets them start a new life in the United States. The other three get one-way tickets back to the home countries from which they fled. No one is getting any free passes.

Why Biden Can’t Quit Trump’s Worst Immigration Policies

But what those who ask for the protective cloak of this much celebrated nation of immigrants should be afforded is—at minimum—some basic decency and common courtesy. Imagine you’re the one in a foreign country, and you’re rushing to a U.S. embassy with bad guys hot on your trail. And while your passports are verified, embassy personnel make you wait outside the building?!

Alas, as we have seen time and again, Trump is not big on decency or courtesy. And so, for the first time in U.S. history, a president essentially outsourced part of the asylum process. In 2019, Trump cut a deal with Mexico to basically take custody of thousands of migrants as they await the outcome of U.S. immigration proceedings. More than 60,000 of those migrants, who were at time mostly from Central America, wound up in unsafe and unsanitary encampments on the other side of the U.S.-Mexico border. There, according to human rights organizations, these people endured kidnappings, rape and torture. There are even allegations that some migrants were killed, presumably by other migrants.

It’s little wonder that, while campaigning for president, Biden—who was then doing a hard sell to pitch himself to Latinos, the pro-immigrant left and other progressives as a kinder and gentler alternative to Trump— seized on the “Remain in Mexico” policy to draw the contrast.

“This is the first president in the history of the United States of America that [said] anybody seeking asylum has to do it in another country,” Biden said during a debate. “That’s never happened before in America… They’re sitting in squalor on the other side of the river.”

Biden promised to end the program if elected president, and that’s just what he did shortly after he was sworn in. Now, he is on the verge of bringing it back, supposedly in response to a court ruling, even as administration officials continue to oppose the policy as an inherently flawed one that does more harm than good.

So is Team Biden—which says it is rushing to find a way to dismantle Remain in Mexico at the same time that it’s rushing to put it back in place—throwing in the towel or continuing the fight?

Both, it seems to be saying. The mixed messages in this Texas two-step are terribly confusing, especially to immigration activists who are starting to feel hustle by a president who they helped put in office.

The administration adds to the confusion by pretending to be the good guys in all this, insisting that it had no choice but to reinstate the “Remain in Mexico” policy.

They are not so eager to talk about how the White House is seeking to get the most out of the program it says it wants to end by actively expanding who is eligible to be sent back across the border.

Under Biden, those who remain in Mexico could include anyone from the Western Hemisphere other than Mexico. Under Trump, the only people who were eligible to be returned to Mexico were Brazilians and those from Spanish-speaking countries. Think of Biden’s plan as “Remain in Mexico Plus.”

The reason for the change is no mystery. The new language in the newly reinstated policy is all about making it possible for US border officials to park Haitians in Mexico, which did not happen under Trump, given that thousands of Haitian migrants flocked to the U.S.-border earlier this year.

The bullshit is seriously galling. The phony liberals in the Biden administration are giving into cruelty and acting with callous indifference toward thousands of desperate souls from around the world who are out of options. Then, rather than own up to what they’re doing and why, their first instinct is to be dishonest about all of it to appear more progressive than they really are.

After all, a chaotic immigration system could cost Democrats control of the House and Senate in the 2022 midterm elections. Americans are done with immigrants. These are hard days. So, even more than usual, people are feeling selfish and uncharitable. Just in time for the holiday season, they’re turning inward. With gas and food prices going up and renewed worries about the health and economic impact of still another COVID variant, we’re pulling up the drawbridge—again.

The Dems’ Big Lie? That They Want to Fix Immigration.

As far as many Americans are concerned, this retreat from the world is happening right on time. There are reports that another migrant caravan is on the way from South America to the U.S.-Mexico border. It could be here in several weeks.

So, once again, the Biden administration is doing the politically convenient thing. And, as they take fire from actual progressives who feel lied to and manipulated, Biden officials are shamefully hiding behind a federal court ruling.

In August, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ordered the Biden administration to restart the “Remain in Mexico” program because it had failed to inform states that the program was coming to an end. The judge’s order went into effect shortly afterward. Over the last few months, the White House has been negotiating with Mexico and developing plans to restart the program.

As any first-year law student could tell you, the judge’s order isn’t the final word. Or at least it shouldn’t be. That’s why the founders created the U.S. appeals courts. If it were properly motivated, the administration could challenge the judge’s order or try to finesse the impasse with some creative refinement of the original policy.

But who wants all that to be unfolding in the run up to the midterms? Not Democrats, that’s for sure.

Politics. That’s all this is about. That’s all it has ever been about.

That was true back to when the Trump administration first concocted the inhumane idea of harboring thousands of would-be refugees south of the U.S.-Mexico border, even though doing so placed those people in harm’s way. And it’s true now that the Biden administration is not only picking up where Trump left off but, worse, expanding the program to include a whole new group of people that the White House wants to get rid of.

And to think, thousands of folks still clamor to get into this country. They must not have gotten a good look at the politicians who run it.

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