Joe Biden’s presidency has maintained a relative “normalcy” that gives people ease of mind. We elected the good guy, right? America “chose decency again.” The phrase is a moralistic platitude that infuriates me. We must be vigilant in our criticism of all our public servants, regardless of personal predilections. The people in power must serve us, and to ensure Biden’s administration does, we must put them under the highest degree of scrutiny. Biden’s administration has done some good, the vaccine rollouts being the main victory. But on other fronts he has failed, something I covered in a recent article. The process of letting people in at the border was one of these criticisms, and it seems things have only worsened recently. It’s become something of a crisis with massive amounts of migrants being detained at the border. We have to ask ourselves why, and what can be done.
The increase in migration is a seasonal phenomenon but is also amplified by former President Donald Trump’s bottleneck during the pandemic, with migrants coming in increased numbers due to their inability to arrive earlier. More unstable conditions in Latin American countries can also be blamed for an increase. U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported a 28% increase in migrants apprehended from January to February 2021, from around 78,000 to 100,441. Unusually, however, the average number of teenagers and children crossing into the U.S. without their parents has reached 550 per day. An all-time high is expected in March of nearly 17,000 unaccompanied minors. Two-thirds of these children come from the Central American countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Reuters reported that many immigration experts attribute the massive increase to worsening conditions in Latin American countries, many of which are devastated by conditions like lack of recovery from calamitous hurricanes and long-standing practices of exploitation by American imperialism.
Biden has not adequately prepared for a crisis of this scale and continues to lie to the public about the conditions in detainment facilities. Biden’s administration refuses to let the media into the facilities in Donna, Texas, in a paltry effort to halt criticism — it’s ‘kids in cages’ all over again. The facilities are overcrowded and house more people than they realistically should. Although what Biden inherited from the past administration was admittedly a shitshow, it shouldn’t be taking him this long to address a worsening situation. The problems are going to pile up, and they need to be addressed effectively and humanely. More accommodation is needed at the facilities, including more space for individuals and better conditions overall. The government could even rent out space if needed. They certainly have the means to do so.
Biden recently appointed Vice President Kamala Harris as the director of the effort to improve conditions at the border. A White House official said, “She’ll work first on the goal of stemming the flow of irregular migrants to the U.S. … but at the same time, the real goal is to establish a strategic partnership with these countries based on respect and shared values,” which doesn’t exactly sound great to me. “Stemming” immigration means what? Halting it? This is atonement for our sins in Central America. It would be a moralistic failure, which the United States isn’t great at acknowledging.
I genuinely hope the Biden administration gets itself together and tackles this problem, for the sake of the migrants and asylum seekers. It’s a humanitarian crisis that will perpetuate itself if unaddressed. All of these people are desperate for better conditions — many of them children. This crisis requires the utmost care, especially during the tumultuous conditions of the pandemic. The response has been disappointing at best. The refusal to allow the press inside the facilities worries me and the rhetoric surrounding the problem has been wishy-washy and fails to acknowledge the problem. If this goes unchecked, this will be Biden’s first and biggest controversy for a while. Given his campaign promise of “fair and humane” immigration, I foresee this biting him in the ass if he can’t handle it quickly and competently.
Sam Fogel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.