Biden’s First Year of Immigration Failures

It’s difficult to pick just one disaster that the Biden Administration has produced in its first year.  After running on a campaign to bring competence and normalcy back to the White House, President Biden and his administration seem to break everything they touch.  The sloppy and embarrassing withdrawal from Afghanistan, the inability to stop the spread of COVID (as advertised during his presidential campaign), high inflation, soaring crime rates – you get the idea. The list of policy failures is almost too long to recount in full.

Arguably, however, the crown jewel of Biden’s first-year failures is immigration. And the American people have noticed and are not happy. Recent polling, for example, shows that the President’s weakest approval ratings are on the topic of immigration, where just 31% approve.  Even the liberal Washington Post agrees, stating that President Biden needs a coherent border strategy.  When you are a liberal and have lost the Washington Post, you are in deep trouble.

Here are the top 10 bone-headed blunders from President Biden’s first year in office:

10.  Despite Video Evidence of No Wrongdoing, President Biden and Others Made Baseless Comments About US Border Patrol (USBP) Horse Patrols. Despite video evidence that USBP horse patrol agents acted within their authority, President Biden stated on national television that Border Patrol agents working to protect our border “will pay,” with Harris and Secretary Mayorkas trying to draw lines to slavery and racism.  Believing that they had an opportunity to attack law enforcement, DHS Secretary Mayorkas indicated that an investigation would be concluded in a matter of days.  It has now been over 100 days and still no official findings have been made public nor an apology issued to these USBP officers.     

9.  Tried to Insert Mass Amnesty into the Build Back Better Bill Not Once, Not Twice, But Three Times – with All Attempts Rejected.  In what was meant to be Biden’s signature act of legislation creating Big Government Socialism, there was a remarkable effort to grant amnesty to roughly eight million illegal immigrants. Other benefits and entitlements, such as welfare, Social Security and Medicare, included in the bill for illegal aliens was estimated to cost taxpayers roughly $100 billion over ten years.

8.  Effectively Abolishing ICE’s Immigration Enforcement Functions by Refusing to Allow ICE Agents to Arrest and Remove Illegal Aliens.  Though the Biden Administration has not yet released a key report on ICE arrests and deportations for 2021, preliminary information indicates that ICE arrests will likely be about 72,000 during fiscal year 2021, down 40% from 2020 and down over 50%, on average, from 2017 through 2019. That’s fewer than half the arrests during the most unprecedented border crisis in history in 2018. On deportations, President Biden halted all deportations for the 100 days of his presidency. According to ICE, deportations have dropped 80% since last year’s low point – and note that was during the early stages of COVID-19. The number of criminal aliens removed (with serious convictions) also dropped by 50%.

7.  Cancelling the Remain in Mexico Program, Only to be Ordered to Restart the Program Months Later.  Otherwise known as Migrant Protection Protocols, this program allows U.S. agents the ability to return aliens claiming to seek asylum to Mexico while their claims are adjudicated. The MPP is critical in rooting out fraud within the asylum system, as we know that roughly 85% of asylum claims are denied.  MPP also led to lower illegal apprehensions along the border and the quicker processing of asylum claims.  Only recently has the Biden Administration begun to follow a court order to restart this program, but it is only doing so begrudgingly and probably not at maximum effectiveness – undermining the one program with a demonstrated history of fraud reduction that could have the largest impact on this crisis.

6.  DHS Uses the Honor System and Releases Illegal Immigrants into U.S. Communities.  Earlier this year, DHS officers in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) suspended the issuance of Notice to Appear (NTA) citations to illegal immigrants, citing the overwhelming number of migrants in custody and the lengthy time to process such paperwork.  The result was that migrants were simply released from DHS custody and asked to report to the nearest ICE office once they arrived at their intended destination in the U.S.  This “honor system” style approach is laughable and ineffective – with recent data showing that over 47,000 illegal migrants failed to show up as required.

5.  Negotiating with the ACLU to Pay Individuals Who Knowingly Broke the Law $450,000. After being caught off guard and calling such payouts “garbage,” Biden (once corrected by his own White House) aggressively shouted at the press, proclaiming these illegals “deserve compensation, no matter what the circumstance.”  Given the public backlash, Biden’s Department of Justice recently announced that they suspended such settlement negotiations. 

4.  President Biden Absconded on His National Security Duties to the American People and Put VP Harris In Charge. Desperate to get a handle on the border crisis it created, the White House appointed Vice President Harris to solve it. They dispatched her to Guatemala to investigate the root causes of the crisis (hint: it’s the Biden Administration) and basically tell the Guatemalan people “do not come.” This occurred while she was sending different messages through domestic news outlets, telling the world through interviews that they are welcome to stay in the United States if they can make it here. The Vice President mangled the effort and came off as incompetent, and the White House is still trying to undo the damage she caused. Harry Truman once pointed to the Resolute Desk and said, when it comes to the big things, “The buck stops here.” President Biden moved the point of responsibility down the hall and went into hiding.

3.  DHS Secretary Accused of Lying Under Oath to Congress and to the American People. Attempting to defend the administration’s border security policy, DHS Secretary Mayorkas has been repeatedly accused of lying under oath to Congress, which in turn has prompted calls for his resignation from multiple Members of Congress.  The DHS Secretary has continuously emphasized that the “the border is closed” when there has been a record 2 million illegal apprehensions in 2021 and refused to acknowledge that he told migrants in March 2021 “you can come, but just don’t come now.”

2.  Spending $2 Billion to Halt Border Wall Construction and Having Nothing to Show for It.  At the end of the Trump Administration, nearly two miles of border wall was being built each day, with 450 miles having been completed. When the Biden team arrived, border wall construction was stopped immediately. That decision, while funds were already allocated, has cost taxpayers dearly. There are massive partitions of steel sitting on the ground waiting to be erected. With the lack of the wall, our border remains porous, and coupled with the shocking lack of leadership, illegal immigration surged, and malicious actors are now taking full advantage of U.S. border vulnerabilities. 

1.  Endangering the Country for Political Expediency. For all reasons above and more, this Administration has demonstrated continuously they care more about pursuing fringe left policies aimed at securing political power, rather  points than the security of our homeland.

It is clear the Biden Administration has undertaken a concerted effort to tear down the rule of law along the border with their policies and premeditated actions.  They have failed to put in place a strategy to address this historic crisis and every time they are made to explain their actions, the President’s approval ratings drop further.  What’s become abundantly clear is that there are tested and proven policies and systems that can bring order to the border. The Biden Administration intentionally destroyed that system.  And we still have three long years to go.

Chad Wolf serves as Executive Director, Chief Strategy Officer & Chair for the Center for Homeland Security and Immigration for the America First Policy Institute (AFPI).

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