Byron York: The (continuing) border crisis
Published 11:59 pm Thursday, February 24, 2022
These days, the news is dominated by reporting on the Russian threat to Ukraine, by increasing fatigue with COVID restrictions across the United States and by the continuing rise of inflation. All of those are indeed newsworthy, but another newsworthy subject — the mess on the U.S.-Mexico border — is receiving relatively little attention.
Now, there’s new word it’s getting worse. Much worse. Fox News has obtained new figures that show border authorities encountered 153,941 illegal border-crossers in January. That is almost double the number from one year ago, in January 2021, when authorities encountered 78,414 crossers. And that 2021 figure was more than double the number from a year before that, in January 2020, when the number of illegal crossers encountered was 36,585.
That’s a bad trend. And it is almost entirely explained by one factor: the arrival of Joe Biden in the White House, after having campaigned on promises to allow more illegal border-crossers to stay in the U.S.
The new numbers also show that the Biden administration is making good on that promise. According to court papers cited by Fox, in January of this year, 62,573 migrants were released into the U.S. We know that in recent months, Biden administration officials have sometimes given those migrants notices to appear before a court at some point in the (often distant) future and sometimes told them simply to report to immigration authorities when they have time. In any event, initial admission is often tantamount to permanent admission because a relatively small number of those given entrance to the U.S. will end up leaving.
You will not be surprised to learn that the Biden White House is not particularly interested in talking about all this. Indeed, officials appear to be dragging their feet on giving the public enough information to know what is happening. For example, at the end of each year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement releases its annual report on enforcement operations at the border and elsewhere. According to the Washington Free Beacon, the release has come each December for more than a decade; the last ICE report of the Trump administration was released on Dec. 23, 2020.
By that schedule, the Biden administration ICE report should have been released sometime in December 2021. But now it is Feb. 17, 2022, and there has been no release. Here’s a wild guess: It contains a lot of bad news for anyone who is concerned about border security.
In the coming days, there will be speculation about what, if anything, Biden might say about the border and immigration during his State of the Union speech on March 1. Certainly, the topic won’t be near the top of Biden’s priority list. He will undoubtedly devote a lot more time to COVID, about which he is hoping to tell the public that the country can move on from the pandemic after the wonderful job his administration has done. From a new ABC News report: “President Joe Biden is hoping to use his upcoming State of the Union address as a chance to nudge the pandemic into the nation’s rear-view mirror.”
Maybe Biden can do that, and maybe he can’t. But one issue that in no way can be nudged into the nation’s rear-view mirror is border security. The public knows it is going badly. According to a Fox News poll last month, just 37% of those surveyed approve of Biden’s handling of border security, versus 59% who disapprove. That is consistent with findings in other polls for the last year.
Biden’s border failure has also helped define his party. When asked the question, “Which political party do you think would do a better job on border security?” just 40% of those surveyed by Fox said the Democratic Party, versus 56% who named the Republican Party. That 16-point GOP advantage is among the biggest leads Republicans have going into this year’s midterm elections.
Finally, Biden’s mishandling of the border could damage the Democratic Party’s standing with Hispanic voters for years to come. For a long time, Democrats have assumed that they will dominate elections by relying on a growing Hispanic population that votes overwhelmingly Democratic. But now, the party is losing Hispanic voters by the thousands. And part of the reason is Biden’s border policy. A Dallas Morning News poll last September found that Biden’s approval among Hispanics in Texas was just 35%, versus 54% disapproval, and that those Hispanic voters particularly disapproved of Biden’s handling of the border.
It’s no wonder the White House doesn’t want to talk about it.
This content originally appeared on the Washington Examiner at https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/the-continuing-border-crisis.
Byron York is chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner.