Opinion | Immigration

Biden's COVID, border policies prove he's serious about neither

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill

In the short time since the Biden administration assumed power, it has arguably been more aggressive and agenda-driven than any of its predecessors in recent memory. The first month has produced bold rhetoric, backed by executive orders and regulations, focused primarily on immigration and the nation's response to COVID-19. It has quickly become clear, however, that Biden's positions on both of these critical issues are hopelessly intertwined, in opposition to each other, and destined to fail.

This administration can deploy Dr. Fauci and other like-minded allies in the media to defend it, but it doesn't take a Ph.D in immunology to see the obvious: Containing and defeating a challenge like COVID-19 is made significantly more difficult when foreign nationals from underdeveloped countries are allowed to pour into the country en masse.

The very idea of ramping up the flow of immigrants into the country at a time when we are facing a pandemic for the ages is absurd on its face. White House water carriers will insist that we can walk and chew gum at the same time. If national security and the well-being of the American people matter at all, however, then why must our COVID efforts be hamstrung by an optional and ultra-partisan move like the de facto elimination of our southern border?

At a time when the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 recently surpassed 500,000, this administration seems tone deaf as it goes full throttle with dismantling the border security and policies that protected us the last four years. It strains credulity for anyone to argue that the current immigration policy is aiding the COVID-19 policy. The truth is quite the opposite.

Thanks in large part to Operation Warp Speed, our public and private sectors working together have been able to develop a vaccine. The next challenge is production and distribution for the entire nation.

As many Americans are still having difficulty getting access to the vaccine, the Biden administration announced that it supports "equal access" to the vaccine for illegal aliens in the country. A statement from the Department of Homeland Security declared the move to be a "moral and public health imperative" that aliens get access to the vaccine as well as legal residents.  

This is lunacy disguised as compassionate leadership.

Now the United States government is in the business of providing free COVID-19 vaccinations to anyone willing to make the trek to our border. Is that likely to result in more or less migrant caravans demanding entry into the country?

The move also raises the very legitimate question of whether illegal aliens are being given priority over U.S. citizens for a finite number of vaccinations. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) put out a scathing indictment recently of the DHS declaration, calling the move "a slap in the face to millions of hardworking families who have been waiting months for the vaccine and expect Washington leaders to be looking out for them."

Further muddying the waters is the random, ad hoc nature of the administration's border and COVID policies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now requires international travelers entering the U.S. - including U.S. citizens - to have proof of a negative COVID test prior to boarding a flight into the country. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said in an interview that there is an "active conversation with the CDC" about expanding the policy to domestic flights.

No such caution is being applied to those entering our country illegally on the Southern Border, however. Thanks to the Biden administration's reboot of the Obama-era catch-and-release policy, those apprehended crossing the border are held in quarantine for 10-14 days with no COVID-19 test required for their release into the U.S.

In a common sense, apolitical world, our borders and immigration policies would be severely restricted while we contain our exposure to illness and begin healing our nation. We should not be having a debate on prioritizing illegal aliens over citizens and legal residents for vaccines because illegal aliens should not be allowed in the country in the first place. To limit the flow at this time would be an act of leadership that values our nation's citizens and their safety. 

What we get instead is neither sound policy nor effective leadership. It reeks of double standards and faulty logic, all meant to fulfill a radical anti-borders agenda. America and its people deserve far better than this.

Dale L. Wilcox is executive director and general counsel at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of mass migration.

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