Biden’s Border Crisis, an Obama Legacy?
The detention of migrants at our southern border is nothing new. It is a problem that has long festered in our politics and confounded policymakers. But instead of offering solutions, politicians on both sides of the aisle would rather just attack whoever is holding the keys to the cages: the White House.
Rather than inheriting and maintaining the status quo, elected leaders need to muster the courage and come together to finally solve this issue—an issue that threatens to worsen under President Joe Biden’s watch unless quickly addressed.
Photos and videos coming out of immigration facilities near the southern border are heartbreaking to see–again. But this time around, we find ourselves in the midst of a pandemic where social distancing has become integral to limiting the spread of COVID-19. Sen. Ted Cruz shared a video from the same facility showing one of seven pods with people crammed in at over 1,500 percent capacity. Rep. Henry Cuellar shared photos of immigrant kids being locked up behind plastic partitions in Donna, Texas.
The sad truth is it is hard to determine the true extent of the crisis facing the Biden administration. In fact, the lack of transparency is especially troubling since there seems to be no regular access when it comes to covering what is going on in these locations. Press Secretary Jen Psaki and Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, have attributed the lack of media access to the present pandemic, even though they now seem to be allowing members of Congress down there on a regular basis.
The Biden-Harris administration has cast blame on their predecessor for the problems and lack of resources we are seeing at the border. In a CNN interview, Mayorkas stated, “We are rebuilding the orderly systems that the Trump administration tore down to avoid the need for these children to actually take the perilous journey.” Although, as it stands there are 18,000 unaccompanied migrant children in U.S. custody. Additionally, the average child is spending more than 136 hours in custody, even though the legal limit is only 72 hours.
The blame game seems to be in full swing between the current administration and the previous one, but things weren’t all rosy before the Trump administration. The Obama-Biden administration detained families for as long as it was needed to finish processing and deport them. President Donald Trump’s administration simply carried on the same policy. In addition, President Barack Obama deported more people than Trump.
Politicians should drop the holier-than-thou act when it comes to detaining immigrants because both parties share some of the blame. Instead, they need to come together on bipartisan legislation that will address important solutions such as heightened accountability and even expanded access to work visas, which can help lower the number of illegal border crossings. There are also conservative alternatives to solving this issue like restoring prosecutorial discretion for immigration cases. This president and future ones should stop ruling by executive order and get down to the hard work of passing good, long-lasting immigration policy reform.
As the border crisis continues, we must keep in mind that America is a nation of immigrants. Many U.S. citizens either came here themselves or had ancestors immigrate to pursue their dream of a better life. The Statue of Liberty has long been that beacon of hope for immigrants with her tablet saying, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” These words should serve as a reminder of the hope and optimism life in America can bring.