Biden’s border ‘challenge’ is a brewing political ‘crisis’
Joe Biden campaigned on a promise to reverse what he called the “damage” and “shame” caused by Donald Trump’s immigration policies.
But just weeks into his efforts to stay that promise, Biden is now facing an influx of migrants at the United States-Mexico border, in what his administration is looking a “challenge” et al. are labelling a “crisis”.
The numbers are up significantly: there have been over 78,000 enforcement encounters at the southern border in January, consistent with US Customs and Border Protection, quite double the amount that attempted to cross the border in January 2020.
The surge of migrants comes because the Biden administration is struggling to place into place several immigration policy changes that the new president implemented shortly after taking office in January.
“I think there’s a challenge at the border that we are managing,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Monday in response to an issue about whether he believes there’s a crisis at the border.
When pressed by reporters on the hair-splitting between labelling things at the border a “challenge” or a “crisis”, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki retorted Tuesday: “I don’t think we’d like to satisfy your bar of what we’d like to call it.”
Republicans naturally are getting to range in on the consequences of Biden’s immigration policies; Trump had telegraphed the maximum amount during the campaign, accusing Biden of wanting “open borders” and calling his immigration ideas “insane”.
Trump spent a big portion of his first post-presidential speech on Sunday hammering Biden, using the border as a top example of the new president’s failures.
“In only one short month, we’ve gone from ‘America First’ to America last,” Trump said. “There’s no better example than the new and horrible crisis on our southern border.”
What is curious may be a warning from one among Biden’s fellow Democrats.
“It isn’t a crisis yet, but it’ll become a crisis,” Democratic Representative Henry Cuellar of Texas told Fox News Tuesday. “The number of unaccompanied kids, the amount of families who are coming in are just increasing a day ,” he continued.
“So, it’s not a crisis yet, but it’s getting to get there very soon.”
Cuellar’s comments come on the heels of a presidential election that saw Trump gain significant support in two counties in his borderland .
In Starr and Zapata counties, both along the Texas-Mexico border, Trump saw huge vote increases – he won Zapata by 5 percentage points after losing to Hillary Clinton by 33 points in 2016, and he lost Starr by only 5 points in 2020 after losing there by 60 points in 2016. the foremost notable part about these statistics? Both counties are 95 percent Hispanic.
Potential political peril
As battered because the Republican Party is at the instant , Democrats, because the party responsible of both houses of Congress and therefore the White House, will win or lose in 2022 supported their political and policy successes and failures.
The brewing immigration “challenge” is one that threatens to become an albatross for Democrats running in next year’s congressional midterms, and Republicans hope they will use this to their advantage.
In fact, House legislator Kevin McCarthy has already signalled that immigration are going to be a key focus in Republicans’ efforts to require back control of the House. In an interview with Punchbowl News last month, he listed immigration together of three key areas Republican candidates will specialise in this election cycle.
And polling reveals that the difficulty could also be one among the most important vulnerabilities for Biden and Democrats.
While Biden generally enjoys favourable approval ratings overall and on his handling of most issues, on immigration, Americans have some concerns.
An Economist/YouGov poll released in the week shows 41 percent approve of Biden’s handling of the immigration issue, with 42 percent disapproving, including 32 percent who strongly disapprove. Among those that identify as independent, only 36 percent approve compared to 44 percent who disapprove.
In addition, another poll released in the week revealed that Americans are split on whether to scale back enforcement on the border.
According to a Harvard-Harris poll, 49 percent of registered voters approve of the reduction of immigration enforcement within the US resulting in fewer arrests and deportations, while 51 percent disapprove. (The Economist/YouGov poll features a margin of error of two .6 percent; the Harvard-Harris poll didn’t indicate a margin of error).
Biden and therefore the Democrats are walking a fine line: if things on the border spirals out of control, they’re going to almost certainly hear about it from Republicans and, perhaps more importantly, from independent – or moderate – voters in battleground districts.
As the president wrestles with the brewing “challenge” along the border, it’s quickly becoming clear that the political backlash on immigration may progress to be its own crisis for Biden and his party.