Joe Biden’s border crisis has not abated, and neither has his general inattention and ineptitude in all phases of his presidency. Most media outlets have overlooked all of these, but Bloomberg’s editorial board blasts Biden and Kamala Harris in a surprisingly blunt indictment of their utter incompetence. Declaring very tardily that Biden’s incoherence on immigration is “now verging on a crisis,” Bloomberg urges Biden and Harris to start engaging … and to go back to Donald Trump’s policies.
On that point, it’s Bloomberg that gets incoherent:
During his four years in office, President Donald Trump attempted to reduce migrant flows using two programs. The first, known as Remain in Mexico, required most asylum seekers to remain south of the border while their cases were processed. In response to legal challenges and the start of the pandemic, that policy was set aside in favor of another measure, Title 42, which allowed for widespread expulsions on public-health grounds. Though implemented haphazardly — in keeping with Trump’s generally cruel and incompetent approach to the border — both policies had the effect of significantly slowing unauthorized entries.
Perhaps Bloomberg feels the need to take a swipe at Trump to justify a swipe at Biden, but this makes no sense. The charge of cruelty is certainly arguable, but not the charge of incompetence. In the same breath that its editors claim that Trump had a “generally incompetent approach to the border,” they also claim that Trump’s policies were effective in better securing it and discouraging massive migrations across it. Did anyone bother to read through that sentence before publication?
Furthermore, they want Biden to adopt Trump’s policies now, too:
As for Biden? He’s been trying to shut down both programs since the start of his presidency, without specifying plausible alternatives. He has proposed a funding cut for border apprehensions and removals. He published an ill-conceived reform structure that seemed to act as an invitation for further migration without laying the necessary groundwork. Vice President Kamala Harris — deputized by Biden to head up a response to the crisis — has spent just three days in Latin America over 16 months.
Such inattention has allowed obvious problems at the border to fester, while giving unauthorized migrants the false hope that they’ll be allowed entry to the US.
The bottom line is that all asylum seekers have a right to have their claims heard in court, yet the US must ensure the system doesn’t get completely overwhelmed. Of the imperfect options available, Remain in Mexico (formally, the Migrant Protection Protocols) makes the most sense.
One has to wonder whether Biden and/or his team have reached the same conclusion. They still don’t have a policy replacement for Remain in Mexico, which is likely why they still haven’t ended it even after the Supreme Court gave them carte blanche to do so at the end of June. The decision got certified earlier this week, but that’s just a formality; Biden could have ended the policy the next day if he wanted to do so.
The midterms will almost entirely be fought on the basis of the economy, of course. But crime and insecurity will play a psychological role too, and it’s not just Bloomberg that has reached the conclusion that Biden and Harris are incompetent on these issues. The efforts by Greg Abbott and Doug Ducey to send a tiny percentage of the migrant flows into Washington DC, New York, and potentially other cities will make those failings obvious in the weeks leading up to the election, where voters will have that instability and risk as context for their ballot decisions.
That’s doubly true given Biden’s reluctance to act now. Each day that goes by now without a change is an admission that they either have no effective alternative, or that the policy is itself the most effective one possible. Or both. And each day that goes by without Biden or Harris addressing the issue underscores the dilettante nature of the Biden presidency, summed up perfectly in Bloomberg’s “inattention and ineptitude” indictment. Over the last eighteen months, Biden and Harris have proven that indictment far beyond a reasonable doubt, and not just on immigration policy and border security.