All through President Trump’s tenure he was criticized for his approach to immigration at our southern border. And though he was correct to point out the significant and often dangerous problems with our lack of security, his vitriolic accusations, harsh policies, and often crude insults rubbed many Americans the wrong way. I won’t defend him for this approach or tone, as I often inwardly cringed. And even though I knew the media was overhyping the separation of children from their parents, I recognized that this was an ugly, and ultimately, unnecessary dynamic.
When Biden took office, however, I expected better. I also expected the media to do their job. Seven months later, both have disappointed me. According to a Reuters article, “Guatemala has begun to receive flights of undocumented migrants sent back from the United States under a new policy allowing fast-track expulsions for some families at the U.S.-Mexico border.” As Reuters points out, the policy, dubbed “expedited removal,” applies to “families that have not sought U.S. asylum or who do not qualify, and comes as border arrests in recent months have risen to 20-year highs.”
But what does that mean, not qualify? Who gets to determine what is an emergency, what qualifies as asylum? Isn’t this exactly what Trump got a non-stop tongue lashing for by the entire mainstream media?
A case in point is the plight of Marvin Santos, 25, who as reported by Reuters, “had trekked to the United States with his wife and 5-year-old daughter, hoping to meet up with relatives already in the United States and pursue a better life. Santos has spent about $11,600, which he financed by his belongings as well as taking out a bank loan. Once his family crossed into the United States, they were detained. Within a week, they were tested for COVID-19 and told they would be sent back to Guatemala.”
The “expedited removal” policy, which has also impacted Honduran and El Salvadoran immigrants, has its origins in the speech that Vice President Kamala Harris gave in Guatemala in which she sternly warned, “Do not come. Do not come. The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our borders. If you come to our border, you will be turned back.”
Other than slightly more sensitive language, what is the difference between the “expedited removal” policy and Trump’s “remain in Mexico” policy? In fact, as Human Rights Watch points out:
Over the past four months, President Biden has pushed Mexico to redouble its immigration enforcement efforts. The Mexican government has deployed thousands of additional immigration agents and ten thousand Mexican soldiers to detain undocumented migrants. And the Biden administration continues to expel thousands of migrants to Mexico every day without full due process. Meanwhile, Mexican immigration agents detain and deport thousands of migrants every month—mostly Central Americans, many of whom are headed to the US. In fact, Mexico deports more Central Americans every year than the US.
This approach of pushing Mexico to solve the immigration challenges is essentially the same policy stance that Trump employed, for which he was severely rebuked by the media. Here is an excerpt from Reuters in 2020: “About 60,000 people have been sent back to Mexico to await the outcome of their cases in often dangerous border towns where they are vulnerable to kidnapping, rape, robbery and other crimes while living in sometimes unsanitary conditions.”
And yet, the media largely and conveniently ignores the humanitarian disaster and more importantly, the inherent hypocrisy. The inconvenient truth is that the surge in illegal crossings is of Biden’s own making. In a debate moderated by Univision’s Jorge Ramos in 2019, Biden stated, “I would in fact make sure that there is immediately a surge to the border. They deserve to be heard. That’s who we are. We’re a nation that says, ‘You want to flee, and you’re fleeing oppression, you should come.'”
Meanwhile, reality tells a different, much uglier story. As The Center for Disaster Philanthropy reports, “Over the past four months, President Biden has pushed Mexico to redouble its immigration enforcement efforts. The Mexican government has deployed thousands of additional immigration agents and ten thousand Mexican soldiers to detain undocumented migrants. And the Biden administration continues to expel thousands of migrants to Mexico every day without full due process. Meanwhile, Mexican immigration agents detain and deport thousands of migrants every month—mostly Central Americans, many of whom are headed to the US. In fact, Mexico deports more Central Americans every year than the US.”
It appears that Biden took Trump’s “remain in Mexico” policy, dressed it up in nicer clothing, and then resold it to the media, U.S citizens, and the global community, all who seem to be complicit in sustaining the illusion of positive change for the fate of immigrants who are caught up in the middle of this political ruse.
And things are actually projected to get worse. According to a CNN review, “The US is on track to encounter more than 2 million migrants at the US-Mexico border by the end of the fiscal year, according to internal government estimates reviewed by CNN, marking a record high.”
Meanwhile, Biden seems determined to also make a mess of our legal immigration system, something Trump managed to worsen as well. According to Cato, “. . .the government has processed green card applications at such a slow pace that it will come at least 100,000 slots short of using up the annual limit. Without drastic revisions in the glacial processing times, President Biden will have presided over one of the largest cuts to legal immigration in U.S. history — and almost no one is talking about it.”
Of course, I acknowledge that we have a horribly broken immigration system, one that President Biden inherited. We need a comprehensive, liberalized, humane system that facilitates the immigration process for people seeking a new life while we simultaneously get control of our southern border. My point is that softer language and intent aside, there doesn’t, at least for now, appear too much of a difference between Biden and Trump. It is starting to feel as though Biden is using the plight of immigrants to bolster his image and appeal as a humanitarian even as he consigns them to the same horrible fate his predecessor did.
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