October 5, 2023
By Brian Lonergan
Within hours of assuming the presidency in January 2021, and to the delight of the illegal immigration lobby, Joe Biden signed a flurry of executive orders effectively reversing most of President Trump’s immigration policies. Chief among them was Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy, in which the Justice Department prosecuted all suspected illegal border crossers, and along with it—at least on paper—family separations. Biden and company then revved up their rhetoric as both he and his agencies regularly denounce family separations as “abhorrent” and “criminal.”
There’s just one problem: despite this bluster, family separations have not only continued under the Biden administration, such separations are likely happening in even greater numbers now than they did in the Trump years. Moreover, Biden administration officials are simultaneously defending and condemning them.
In the United States, adults who are with minors when they are arrested for any type of offense have always been separated from said minors. This is true whether it’s a U.S. citizen who is arrested for drunk driving with kids in the car or it’s an illegal alien arrested for immigration violations when crossing the border with children. And it has been standard practice for decades.
In a case where five noncitizen mothers seeking asylum are suing the government over family separations, Biden’s Justice Department is not only defending the policy, but contesting the rights of the mothers to seek monetary damages through the Federal Tort Claims Act.
This is hardly the first time Biden has read one thing from a teleprompter and done the opposite off camera. Few of his hypocrisies have been this blatant, however, or run so obviously afoul of immigration orthodoxy on the left.
Despite Biden’s betrayal of the illegal immigration lobby, however, we hear nothing but crickets from his supporters. Where are the images of a weeping Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the parking lot of a migrant detention center? Why are there no accusations of Biden committing crimes against humanity?
Still, Team Biden must be aware of how bad Biden’s hypocrisy on family separation could look if Republicans chose to make an issue of it, so they have gone to great lengths to conceal government data about it. Lawyers at my organization, the Immigration Reform Law Institute, have filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against Biden’s Customs and Border Protection agency, seeking to compel it to provide 2022 family separation numbers that were first requested in January.
Releasing these numbers would draw more even more attention to the fact that Biden has broken faith with his base. Because this administration has committed arson with respect to border security and immigration enforcement, the record-breaking number of illegal aliens in the country all but assures the number of family separations on their watch greatly exceeds the number that occurred during the Trump administration. In D.C. swamp parlance, it’s bad optics any way you look at it.
In a rare feat for today’s hyperpartisan times, the Biden White House has succeeded in angering people on all sides of the immigration issue. Those who support immigration enforcement will never forgive this administration for the rampant chaos and human suffering it has caused by surrendering our borders to the cartels. The anti-borders contingent, despite getting almost everything they wanted, is sure to view Biden as an opportunistic backstabber for continuing family separations if this reality becomes more widely known.
Biden’s actions prove that even an establishment, career politician must realize some modicum of immigration enforcement and structure is needed. More about Biden’s true sentiments on immigration were also revealed in a recent book claiming Biden privately wanted to keep a number of Trump immigration policies intact but was overruled by his staff.
For all the handwringing and emotional language surrounding the issue of family separations, the best outcome for all parties may be the simplest. Communicate effectively to migrant families the true horrors of being in debt to human trafficking cartels, the inconveniences and frustrations of living in legal limbo, the dangers of sanctuary city overcrowding, and the probabilities of workplace exploitation. Perhaps then they will conclude the smartest move is to not come illegally at all.
Brian Lonergan is director of communications at the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) in Washington, D.C, and co-host of IRLI’s “No Border, No Country” podcast.
Also published at Chronicles, October 5, 2023.
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