In recent days, President Biden put forward a sweeping and misguided plan to overhaul our nation’s immigration system. Most notably, the proposal fails to address the long-term security challenges that have plagued our southern border. This legislation comes as a new migrant caravan is now making its way through Mexico, threatening another surge on our border. Without a serious commitment to border security, President Biden’s proposal will likely encourage more waves of illegal immigration by rewarding those who violate U.S. law.
For several weeks, the Biden Administration has been signaling that the days of strict immigration enforcement are over. A few days before taking office, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris appeared on Univision to outline the Biden Administration’s lax immigration policies. Days later, a caravan of over 7,000 migrants formed in Honduras and began heading north toward the U.S., leading Mexico’s President to warn that migrants believe the “doors are open.” Upon taking office, President Biden immediately rescinded President Trump’s order that had strengthened federal-state cooperation on immigration enforcement. He also withdrew funding for barrier projects on our southern border and ordered a 100-day pause on deportations – a move that has since been blocked in court.
President Biden is now pushing legislation that is weaker on border security than even the policies backed by President Obama, with whom he served as Vice President. Biden’s proposal would grant immediate legal status to farmworkers, those with temporary protected status, and recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. It would also give pathways to citizenship to almost all illegal immigrants and expand our refugee resettlement program. There is one helpful provision that would boost surveillance technology along the border, but the bill would not provide funds for border wall construction, which is critical to any balanced approach to immigration reform.
Of the more than 11 million people living illegally in the U.S. today, many were brought here by their parents at a young age. There has long been a bipartisan willingness to address these children while also strengthening immigration enforcement across the board. Although President Obama imposed DACA by executive decree, he also deported three million illegal residents, oversaw the construction of over 125 miles of border wall, and supported legislation that would have funded new barriers. By contrast, President Biden appears to be the first President to take the position that barriers are not part of comprehensive border security.
As a member of the House and Senate, I have voted for the construction of walls and fencing along our southern border during every administration since President Bill Clinton. I have also supported boosting the number of border patrol agents and expanding the use of surveillance technology. These security measures are essential to any reasonable and balanced approach to immigration reform.
Earlier this month, the Senate held a series of important immigration votes. I voted in favor of protecting contracts with companies that are building fences on our southern border. I also voted for the Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act, which would withhold critical funding from sanctuary cities that disregard our immigration laws. In addition, I voted for a measure that would prioritize the arrest of criminal aliens who have committed violent crimes. Regrettably, Democrats rejected these measures, resulting in a failure to pass what should be mainstream priorities.
It appears unlikely that President Biden will come to recognize the pressing need for these reforms, but Republicans will continue to make the case for border walls, surveillance, and more agents as essential to any realistic immigration package.