The Corner

Immigration

Migrants Aren’t Cooperating with Biden’s Plans

Hondurans taking part in a new caravan of migrants set to head to the United States, rest on a road in Vado Hondo, Guatemala, January 17, 2021. (Luis Echeverria/Reuters)

The latest caravan from Central America appears to have been successfully stopped and dispersed by Guatemalan authorities, after some of the migrants attacked police. More caravans will follow, as well as smaller groups of migrants moved north by smugglers, drawn by the Biden administration’s announced determination to reverse all of Trump’s border-control policies and push through Congress a broad illegal-alien amnesty.

Despite the narrative peddled by the anti-borders crowd that the flow is purely the result of dislocation caused by recent hurricanes, it’s no secret that what we’re seeing is the Biden Effect. As one Honduran told AFP, “I think that with this new president, things will change for a migrant who arrives without papers, because with Trump, we’re screwed.” Another Honduran told The Hill, “He’s going to help all of us, he’s giving us 100 days to get to the U.S. and give us [legal] papers.”

Nor should this come as news to anyone. My colleague Todd Bensman made a reporting trip to southern Mexico a year ago and met migrants who volunteered that they were betting on Trump to be defeated so they could get across the border. As one woman told him, “I want Trump out! I’ll wait for that because it would make things easier to get in.” With regard to another, Bensman wrote, “Valladaras said he would wait for his Mexican asylum approval, move to Tijuana ‘until Trump leaves’, and then cross over the U.S. border when the Democrats undo his policies because ‘right now, the Americans will throw you back’ to Mexico.”

Biden officials are aware of how awkward this could prove to their administration’s immigration agenda. As I wrote last month, and as Biden’s domestic-policy chief Susan Rice confirmed shortly thereafter, the new administration is terrified that its amnesty push will be sabotaged by the Biden Effect at the border, and have warned that not every Trump policy will be overturned immediately.

The latest attempt to avert a politically damaging migrant wave came in an interview with NBC this week by an anonymous transition official, who said that “the situation at the border isn’t going to be transformed overnight.” The story noted that the anonymous official (why would NBC agree to anonymity on something as anodyne as this?) as saying that migrants passing through Mexico “will not find when they get to the U.S. border that from Tuesday to Wednesday, things have changed overnight and ports are all open and they can come into the United States.”

But the key question is not whether the ports of entry will wave in anyone who utters the magic asylum words their smugglers coached them to say (though that’s coming!), but what will happen to the busloads of aliens who illegally step across those parts of the border without fencing (or with only low vehicle barriers) and flag down the Border Patrol and say those magic asylum words. Will they be expelled back to Mexico or released after promising to maybe apply for asylum some day? Either response will cause Biden problems.

The official also told NBC that “there’s help on the way, but now is not the time to make the journey” — translation: “Please don’t screw up our amnesty push in Congress by showing Americans what it will lead to! Wait ’til Biden signs the bill, then you can all come in!”

But it’s increasingly clear that the migrants aren’t interested in cooperating.

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