Why did Biden put Harris in charge of the border crisis?

Getty Images

In March, the Border Patrol apprehended more than 171,000 migrants who had made illegal crossings into the United States, the highest monthly total since 2006 — and it included more than 18,800 children who arrived without their parents. This is an extraordinary increase — up from 78,442 apprehensions in January — and it doesn’t include nearly 1,000 “got aways” per day.

“Got aways” are migrants who are observed making an illegal entry but are not caught. DHS has no way of determining how many aliens enter without being observed.

The increase in the number of families making illegal crossings in March was even steeper, soaring to more than 53,000 — up from 7,294 in January.

This is a crisis, and Biden isn’t taking effective steps to deal with it.

He appointed Vice President Kamala Harris to lead the administration’s efforts to persuade Mexico and the Central American countries to address the root causes that push people to flee their homes in the first place. This was one of the objectives in his plan for “securing our values as a nation of immigrants.”

This has been tried already with the Central American countries.

Between fiscal 2013 and fiscal 2018, the United States provided $3.7 billion in aid to Central America, and the Obama-Biden administration promoted economic prosperity, improved security, and strengthened governance in Central America in 2014 with its U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America program.

It hasn’t worked.

People are still leaving those countries to come here; moreover, there is little — if any — reason to think it ever will. The differences between conditions in Central America and the United States are too great, particularly economic conditions.

The average annual income in El Salvador is $4,000; in Guatemala it is $4,610; and in Honduras it is $2,310.

In the United States it’s $65,850.

In any case, working on such long-term changes isn’t going to stop the current surge in illegal border crossings.

Why did Biden give an immigration task to Harris?

Harris doesn’t appear to be very knowledgeable about immigration law. Presumably, she wouldn’t have made this statement about why migrants come here from Central America if she had known the asylum eligibility requirements:

“We all know most people like being at home. They like being where they grew up… So we have to ask, ‘Why do people leave that?’ And usually they leave because there is a lack of opportunity or it is just not safe. And so my area of focus on the Northern Triangle is to deal with some of those issues.”

Asylum isn’t given to migrants who come here because there is a lack of opportunity or it just isn’t safe in their own countries.

Under U.S. law, asylum is given to migrants who are outside of their own country and unable or unwilling to return because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

Does she even want to secure the border?

Harris doesn’t want to enforce our country’s immigration laws, so I wouldn’t expect her to have much concern about securing the border to keep undocumented aliens out of the country. 

When asked on the second night of the 2019 Democratic debates if an undocumented alien should be deported if his only offense is not having documents, her response was, “I will say, no, absolutely not. They should not be deported.”

Her immigration plan at the time was focused mainly on using executive authorities to make it possible for undocumented aliens to obtain legal status or deferred action.

This isn’t surprising for a California senator. California is a sanctuary state that protects undocumented aliens from ICE. Its sanctuary policies have drawn more than 2 million undocumented aliens to California.

Is she an effective negotiator?

Harris’s record as a senator indicates that being able to change the minds of people she disagrees with isn’t one of her strong points, and she seems to be aware of this shortcoming.  When she was a candidate for the presidency, she admitted that she would not be able to persuade Congress to pass immigration reform legislation. Her plan was to rely instead on executive actions.

Her difficulty persuading others to accept her views may be due to the fact that her views are ultra-liberal. The GovTrack 2019 Report Card ranked her as being the most liberal of the Senate’s 100 members.

Moreover, she didn’t show much inclination to work with the Republicans when she was a senator. She joined bipartisan bills less frequently than other Democratic senators.

She was one of just three Democrats who voted against a compromise that would have given the Trump administration billions of dollars for a border wall in exchange for a path to citizenship for Dreamers.

So why would Biden choose her to lead his administration’s efforts to work with the Central American and Mexican governments to stop the flood of illegal crossings?

Apparently, he doesn’t want to secure the border either. He probably just wants to slow down the flood of asylum seekers to a manageable level until he has the resources necessary to process their applications.

In December 2020, Biden told reporters that he would establish a more “humane policy” at the borders but that he would need “probably the next six months” to rebuild a system to process migrants and secure funding for immigration judges.

As of the end of February 2021, the immigration courts had a backlog of nearly 1.3 million cases, and the average wait for a hearing was two and a half years.

Changing Trump’s policies immediately, he warned, could lead to having “two million people on our border.”

He did it anyway, and the border crisis he feared is occurring.

Moreover, it is occurring during a pandemic that is expected to become more contagious due to the spread of mutations that in some cases are more deadly.

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an executive branch immigration law expert for three years. He subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years. Follow his blog at https://nolanrappaport.blogspot.com.

Tags Asylum backlog Border crisis Foreign Aid Illegal immigration Immigration immigration courts Immigration law Joe Biden Northern Triangle of Central America Open border Presidency of Joe Biden unaccompanied children

More Immigration News

See All
See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video