No matter how they try to spin it, one thing is clear about the Biden administration’s decision to waive more than 20 laws and regulations, including environmental restrictions, to build more sections of a wall along America’s southern border in South Texas. The Democrats who demonized President Donald Trump for his focus on stopping illegal immigration and characterized his quest to build such a barrier as “racism” have been mugged by reality.
Trump’s opponents smeared every effort to put a lid on the problem of illegal immigration as evidence of prejudice against Latinos. Democrats throughout the country declared municipalities to be “sanctuary cities,” championed amnesty and characterized the minimal attempts by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to deal with ever-growing crowds of migrants as oppression and police state tactics.
So, it was little surprise that no sooner had Biden won the 2020 election promising a “more compassionate” approach to illegal immigration, a massive surge at the border began. Since then, Biden halted much of the operations of border enforcement, undermined the work of the embattled border patrol by falsely accusing them of abuses and racism, and ended the building of the wall that Trump failed to complete.
As a result, the number of illegal border crossings—many by individuals pretending to be asylum seekers rather than economic migrants—has surged to record proportions. In the 2022 fiscal year, it was up to 2.7 million with more than 2.8 million in fiscal year 2023. In recent months, the numbers have grown even higher, adding to a humanitarian crisis for overwhelmed border communities.
That crisis has spread to urban centers in the north as even the small proportion of migrants who were sent there by border state governors or who made it there on their own have led to similar problems beyond the border region. Notwithstanding the hypocritical nature of the complaints of blue-state advocates of “sanctuary cities” about being saddled with having to care for so many migrants, this has generated a political problem for Biden that he can’t ignore.
Rather than head into a reelection campaign with a record of effectively erasing America’s southern border, undermining the rule of law, and spreading misery to blue states as well as red ones, Biden’s Department of Homeland Security has been forced to act.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas‘ statement accompanying the new policy admitted that “there is presently an acute and immediate need to construct physical barriers and roads in the vicinity of the border of the United States in order to prevent unlawful entries into the United States.” That gives the lie to Democratic rhetoric about Trump’s policies as well as administration assurances that the border is secure even when the evidence has been clear that it is not.
But when Biden was asked about it the next day, he insisted that borders don’t work.
Why the contradiction?
The administration knows that it must do something to stem the flood of illegal immigration. The crisis has reached a point where it could lose them Democratic votes as well as those of independents. But since admitting the flip-flop would outrage his party’s intersectional left-wing base—which takes it as an article of faith that opposition to open borders is racism—the president is pretending that nothing has changed and that any expenditure on a wall has been forced upon him by Congress‘ refusal to reallocate funds appropriated for it.
That is a lie so obvious that even a more credible press secretary than Karine Jean-Pierre couldn’t sell it.
The consequences of Biden’s support for amnesty and lax border enforcement are so onerous that no amount of Democratic gaslighting will make the public accept them as normal or acceptable. If an administration that would have rather done anything than complete construction of Trump’s wall is now going ahead with the project, that tells us all we need to know about their hypocrisy and the bankruptcy of their policies. Even if they won’t admit they were lying when they called Trump a racist for wanting a wall, their actions speak louder than their words.
Jonathan S. Tobin is editor-in-chief of JNS.org and a senior contributor to The Federalist. Follow him: @jonathans_tobin.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.