Why 2021 Was A Disastrous Year for America’s Border Security


January 11, 2022

By Dale Wilcox

Now that 2021 has come to an end, it is worth reviewing what a disastrous year it was for America’s border security and sovereignty.

The year started with President Donald Trump warning his incoming successor that a border surge was looming, and that ripping apart successful policies would lead to a crisis. Tragically, but predictably, Joe Biden ignored the advice of his predecessor, and started tearing proven Trump-era policies apart on his first day in office. On Jan. 20, Biden issued a proclamation terminating Trump’s emergency declaration at the border, and ending funding for the border wall. The consequences were both immediate and devastating.

The number of migrants attempting to cross the border increased by 28 percent in February 2021, Biden’s first full month in office. This included a more than 60 percent increase in the number of unaccompanied minors who crossed the border. The latter number is especially staggering, and there is a simple reason for it. Biden has gutted the Trump administration’s Title 42 order, which allowed Border Patrol to turn migrants away from the border in order to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The Biden administration has technically kept this order on the books, but has carved out exceptions for families and unaccompanied minors, effectively making the policy meaningless. By creating these exceptions, Biden further incentivized people from South and Central America to send their children on the dangerous trek to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Migrant parents understand the lure the Biden administration has put in place, and they know that if they can get their child across the border, that child will almost certainly be resettled into the U.S. Because of this perverse incentive structure, the Biden administration set records in all the wrong ways.

In fiscal year 2021, more than 2 million migrants illegally crossed the southern border, an all-time record, and a nearly 315 percent increase from fiscal year 2020. In addition to weakening Title 42, Biden took many other steps in the first few days of his tenure that had a devastating impact on our security.

In order to fulfill a campaign promise, Biden almost immediately issued a 100-day moratorium on deportations. The moratorium was swiftly blocked by a federal judge, but still had its intended effects. Within weeks, migrants were swarming the border, wearing t-shirts featuring Biden’s campaign logo and the words: “Biden, Let us in.”

The Biden administration also reinstated the Obama-era “catch and release” policy, which allows foreign nationals seeking asylum to be released into the country pending their asylum hearings. The problem being that many of these migrants never show up for their hearings, and simply disappear into the country. But, perhaps the biggest policy blunder on the Biden administration’s part has been their repeated attempts to kill the Remain-in-Mexico program.

Remain-in-Mexico was put in place by the Trump administration in 2019. The policy required foreign nationals with asylum claims to wait in Mexico while their claims were being adjudicated. The policy was a big reason why the U.S. was able to successfully stem the flow of migration during the last two years of Trump’s presidency.

Despite the policy’s success, Biden moved almost immediately to get rid of it after entering office. These efforts have been thwarted by the federal courts, and the policy remains in effect for now, while the Biden administration continues to try and repeal it. That the Biden White House is so eager to get rid of such a successful program amidst an unprecedented crisis is telling about its priorities, and helps explain why things will likely only get worse in the near future.

The Biden administration’s anti-borders agenda has led to record migration, which has cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars, compromised our national security, and inflamed our country’s already dire opioid crisis. The White House’s point person on this issue is Kamala Harris, who has pursued a fruitless “root causes” strategy, and was recently chastised by one congressional Democrat for her obvious apathy towards the issue. Ultimately, the root cause of America’s border crisis is that the Biden administration and the Democratic party believe excessive migration is good for them politically.

A majority of the American people do not want to live under a radical progressive agenda, so the left has strategized that the only way to maintain power is to rapidly and dramatically change the demographics of the country to suit their ends. That is why America’s once-robust border security effectively ended in 2021.

Dale L. Wilcox is executive director and general counsel at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of mass migration.

Also published at: Dale L. Wilcox, Why 2021 Was A Disastrous Year for America’s Border SecurityTownhall, January 11, 2022.

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