White House Says Border Surge 'Not Unusual'

It seems Joe Biden has learned absolutely nothing from the border crisis. How else to explain this?

The Biden administration is making plans to announce one of the largest immigration relief programs in recent history, developing a policy that would offer legal status to hundreds of thousands of immigrants living in the country without proper documents, four people familiar with the plans told CBS News.

A program being developed by White House officials would offer work permits and deportation protections to unauthorized immigrants married to U.S. citizens, as long as they have lived in the U.S. for at least 10 years, the sources said, requesting anonymity to talk about internal government plans.

The proposal, known as “Parole in Place,” would also open up a pathway to permanent legal status and U.S. citizenship for some beneficiaries by removing an obstacle in U.S. law that prevents those who entered the U.S. illegally from obtaining green cards without leaving the country.

This new plan is set to be announced next Tuesday and CBS reports that some Democrats have already been invited to the White House for it. If it happens, it will be the biggest program for illegal immigrants since President Obama announced DACA. Up to 1.1 million migrants who have US spouses could be eligible. Somehow, leaking news of this on a Friday night doesn’t suggest a lot of confidence on the White House’s part that this will go over well.

Like everything else Biden has done with regard to the border, I can only assume this move is motivated by politics. But what exactly is the upside here? Is he trying to stem the flow of Hispanic voters to Trump? Perhaps he is trying to offer something to progressives who are upset with his recent move to block asylum claims. The ACLU has already sued the administration over that.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on Wednesday challenging President Biden’s decision to shut down the southern border to nearly all migrants seeking asylum in the United States.

The action is the first legal challenge to an order that the Biden administration hopes will decrease the number of illegal border crossings and neutralize one of the president’s most serious political vulnerabilities.

In a statement, the A.C.L.U. said the asylum ban, which went into effect one week ago, violated legal protections for people seeking protection in the United States.

The ACLU has a real chance of winning that case, meaning Biden’s efforts to stop the gaming of the asylum system could be very short-lived.

What doesn’t make any sense though is why Biden would do something which is practically guaranteed to make the border crisis worse. Biden came into office vowing to undo all of former President Trump’s immigration actions. And once in office he followed through, issuing day one executive orders which were quickly seen in Central America as a sign that the border was opening up. The result is the worst border crisis in modern history, with more than 2 million migrants showing up in each of the last two years.

That crisis has become enough of an electoral problem for Biden that he a) actually went to the border for the first time in his life and b) has proposed several different solutions including the most recent asylum ban to bring the numbers under control. Given that history, why would Biden offer a pathway to citizenship at this moment when the number of migrants is finally declining a bit? 

Yes, I understand this offer only applies to people who’ve been here a decade and who are married to US citizens. But what we see over and over is that generosity like this is almost certainly going to encourage more migration as people either get bad information from traffickers or simply decide to take their chances in the hope that 10 years from now they might get a similar offer.

Biden is already betting his reelection on Mexico being able to hold back the crowd from now until November. Now he’s taking a risk to add to the pressure Mexico will be facing. Is the political upside worth that risk? What if Mexico decides they’ve had enough and the numbers spike again?

Even if this works out for him, Mexico’s interest in doing Biden’s dirty work probably won’t last much beyond the election. Then what is he going to do? Is the plan really to live with four more years of this? 

Part of me really wonders if Biden isn’t laying the groundwork for a fresh disaster, one which will be unleashed on his successor after he’s gone.

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