“These deaths are on Biden. They are a result of his deadly open border policies.”
That’s what Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted Monday upon learning of a truck full of dead illegal immigrants being smuggled through San Antonio.
Was he right?
There’s certainly plenty of blame to go around. The smugglers bear the most direct responsibility for the tragedy. They fleece the migrants (derided as “chickens”), shoot competitors, rape little girls — truly the scum of the earth.
The corrupt and dysfunctional leadership of the countries these people are fleeing also bear responsibility, for making their countries the kinds of places people want to flee from.
The illegal immigrants themselves are adults, of course, and put children at risk by hiring criminals.
But there’s no getting around the fact that President Joe Biden shoulders a big part of the blame. Regardless of US policy, some foreigners are going to take foolish, often deadly, risks to come to America. But when Biden issued what smugglers call “La Invitación” to prospective illegal immigrants worldwide, what did he think was going to happen?
Even before a Democratic nominee for president was selected, the prospect of President Donald Trump’s electoral defeat was drawing illegal immigrants northward. One Central American woman in Mexico told us some two and half years ago, “I want Trump out. I’ll wait for that because it would make things easier to get in.”
Her assessment was borne out by Biden’s campaign promises and then his actions in office. He suspended the successful Remain in Mexico program, terminated safe-third-country agreements with Central American countries, announced a moratorium on deportations from the interior and introduced legislation to amnesty all illegal immigrants who’d managed to get in before his inauguration.
Virtually all illegal border-crossers who brought a child with them were released into the United States rather than being detained, as the law requires. Those people naturally called home and reported that they’d been let go, so more followed. Since he was inaugurated, Biden’s administration has released more than 1 million illegal border-crossers into the United States. That number approaches 2 million when you add in the “unaccompanied” “minors” and the known got-aways the Border Patrol could see but couldn’t apprehend because the agents were tied up serving as a Welcome Wagon for illegal “asylum-seekers.”
But that doesn’t mean the border is actually open. While the hapless White House press secretary’s claim that “the border is closed” is laughable, more than 40% of the record number of illegal-immigrant “encounters” (in Biden’s PC-speak) in May were bounced back into Mexico under the Title 42 pandemic health orders. That means there are still lots of people drawn by Biden’s La Invitación who need smugglers to sneak them past the Border Patrol.
In other words, the border is open-ish.
This is what kills people. Our border resembles what in the law is called an “attractive nuisance,” like a swimming pool without a fence. Biden’s policies lure people here with promises that they’ll be able to live here forever, without any meaningful chance of deportation, if only they can make it past the border.
There are two ways to resolve this issue. One is to fling open the borders fully and admit unlimited immigration. This is the preferred option of anti-borders groups and politicians, like Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who said in a statement, “These deaths are the consequence of restricting access to our asylum system and failing to create legal pathways for migrants at our southern border.”
Of course, with hundreds of millions of people in the developing world wanting to move to a modern country, unlimited immigration would mean the end of the United States as we know it.
The other, sane, option is to have a consistent policy of deterrence across the board. That means a firm stance at the border plus muscular enforcement inside the country, so that when prospective illegal immigrants calculate the odds of success, they conclude it’s not worth the trouble and risk and expense. Only then can we say we wouldn’t be contributing to tragedies like the one this week in Texas.
Mark Krikorian is executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies.