The virus is on the retreat. Case numbers are down, vaccinations are up, and there’s finally light at the end of a long tunnel. So why is President Biden allowing so many illegal immigrants into the United States with no regard to their health status?
Six days into President Biden’s term, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began requiring anyone flying into the United States, including American citizens, to provide evidence of a negative COVID test taken within three days of their flight. The Administration claimed such restrictions were necessary to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Yet migrants entering the United States illegally are not subject to the same scrutiny. According to news reports more than 100 illegal immigrants released by border patrol agents in Brownsville, Texas in recent weeks tested positive for coronavirus. The city provided free testing, but had no authority to prevent migrants from traveling elsewhere upon their release.
I wrote to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas on Feb. 16 asking him to explain why the Biden Administration is subjecting American citizens to stricter re-entry protocols than non-citizens. I have yet to receive a response, but the evidence is clear: President Biden and his Administration are prioritizing open borders and limited enforcement over the health of the American people.
President Biden’s policies are only making the crisis at the border worse. By reversing President Trump’s successful policies of border security and deterrence, and proposing legislation with a pathway to citizenship for all illegal immigrants, President Biden has incentivized tens of thousands of migrants to make the dangerous journey across the southern border during traditional down months for border crossings.
President Biden and his officials have tried to shift blame for the growing border catastrophe, either by implausibly blaming President Trump, or desperately claiming that the disaster we’re witnessing is “not a crisis.” “Neither this announcement nor any of the other measures suggests that anyone, especially children and families with young children, should make the dangerous trip to try to enter the U.S. in an irregular fashion,” said Roberta Jacobson, who’s been named the Biden Administration’s coordinator for the southern border. The need for Jacobson’s position in the first place undermines the Administration’s claim of no border crisis, in addition to serving as a damning indictment of Secretary Mayorkas’ failures on the job in his short tenure.
But despite Jacobson’s pleas, this is a situation of the Administration’s own making. The people crossing the border credit President Biden, wearing T-shirts that say “Biden, Let Us In” and telling reporters, “with the new president, it will be easier to enter the U.S.”
The latest data shows how bad the situation is becoming. CBP reported more than 100,000 illegal border crossings for February 2021, more than 300 percent the number who crossed in February of last year. And the number of unaccompanied children coming continues to rise, with more than 9,000 arriving in February of this year, breaking records and leaving border patrol overwhelmed. At this rate, we’re on track to have one of the worst years of illegal border crossings in recent memory.
The border catastrophe will only get worse unless President Biden takes concrete action to secure our borders and discourage migrants from entering illegally. While the president refuses to confront the crisis in person, I believe it’s important to see the problems firsthand, and hear directly from folks on the frontlines how we in Washington can help. That’s why I’ll be going to McAllen, Texas, a hotspot for illegal border crossings, with a group of my colleagues to talk with U.S. Customs and Border Protection law enforcement and observe the processing facilities and ports of entry.
He can do so by reinstating President Trump’s successful Migrant Protection Protocols program – which processed asylum claims without releasing people into the United States – and finishing construction of the wall. These policies are common-sense and popular among Americans, but I won’t hold my breath that President Biden will pursue them.
President Biden decided to send the message to the world that our border is open – we shouldn’t be surprised that people believed him and showed up. But we should expect, and demand, our president put the health and safety of the American people first.
Senator Tommy Tuberville represents Alabama in the United States Senate and is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, and HELP Committees.
He can be reached at (202) 224-4124, on his website at tuberville.senate.gov, on Facebook at Senator Tuberville, Twitter @SenTuberville or by mailing him at Dirksen Senate Office Building, Suite B40A, Washington, DC 20510.