The crisis at the border continues to haunt President Joe Biden’s young administration — with no end or improvement in sight. Vice President Joe Biden gestures as he arrives to speak at the Atlantic Council’s conference, in a special tribute to NATO and the European Union, Wednesday, April 30, 2014, in Washington. Biden drew parallels between Russia’s interference in Ukraine and the world wars of the last century. Biden said Ukraine’s struggles start with Russia’s acute violation of rules that the 20th century taught us must be upheld. He says Russia has violated the fundamental principle that Europe’s borders cannot be changed by military force. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) Jose Luis Magana

Border crisis hangs over Biden — no end in sight

W. James Antle III June 11, 05:00 AM June 11, 05:01 AM

The crisis at the border continues to haunt President Joe Biden’s young administration — with no end or improvement in sight.

Illegal border crossing attempts hit another high in May, exploding to more than 180,000, making it the biggest migration surge in two decades. The total for the fiscal year, beginning last October, is nearing 1 million.

Vice President Kamala Harris, who has been tasked with this issue, flubbed a predictable question in a friendly interview about why she had yet to travel to the border. The standard response from her allies is that her real portfolio is addressing the root causes of illegal migration rather than border security. But her first trip to Central America was widely panned and she did not even visit two-thirds of the Northern Triangle countries.

There has also been an increase in drugs coming across the U.S.-Mexican border.

“Record amounts of opioids, and along with them, deadly consequences,” CBS News’s Norah O’Donnell reported.

“What we are witnessing is an unprecedented immigration crisis that threatens national security, national health, and the economic interests of the American people,” said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group that advocates for tighter immigration controls, in a statement. “What makes it unprecedented, is that it is a crisis created and perpetuated by the Biden administration.”

GUATEMALA HARRIS AND THE MYTH OF JOE BIDEN’S IMMIGRATION POLICY

For now, Biden’s first overseas trip, the pandemic, and the economy all overshadow the situation at the southwestern border. Still, Biden has consistently gotten some of his lowest marks in public polling on the issue of immigration. Republicans, who need only modest gains to retake both houses of Congress in next year’s midterm elections, sense an opening.

“Why does Biden refuse to take action to stop this flow of drugs? Why is he refusing to spend more on border security? When will Kamala Harris, his border czar, stop laughing, stop rolling her eyes, and actually visit the border?” asked Tommy Pigott, the Republican National Committee’s director of rapid response. “Biden’s border crisis is having deadly consequences, and Americans deserve a president who cares.”

The Biden administration has regularly noted the current surge of migrants began before he took office and blamed factors other than its own policies, including Biden’s predecessors’ alleged dismantlement of the system. But Biden also campaigned on a more lenient approach to immigration.

Upon taking office, Biden relaxed many of former President Donald Trump’s immigration controls, pursued a deportations moratorium, and endorsed legislation that would give legal status, including an eight-year pathway to citizenship, for most illegal immigrants already inside the country. The bill contains fewer concessions to border security than the last attempt at bipartisan immigration legislation, the Gang of Eight. Unaccompanied minors who cross illegally are generally not returned. Many migrants have reasonably concluded it would be easier for them to enter and remain in the country under Biden, and some say coyotes have also determined it will be a more hospitable environment.

“Well, humanitarian messages were used here by the coyotes in a distorted manner because what they said over there was that they will promote family reunification,” Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei told Fox News. He praised Harris for sending a “clear message” when she publicly said, “Do not come,” but added, “If you have a lukewarm message, it only creates the opportunity to misinterpret.”

If other problems begin to add up — a spike in inflation, rising homicides in major cities, lackluster jobs numbers — it is possible the border crisis could illustrate a Biden administration not in control.

“The key with the border crisis are the visuals,” said Republican strategist Matt Gorman. “That was one thing in 2018 that was extremely tough for our party to overcome. People across the country were seeing the videos for themselves. Once those become consistent this time around, we’ll see a similar result.”

Trump experienced blowback for the images of children detained at the border, which Biden campaigned on last year. The Biden administration had to deal with similar problems, although it has seen a reduction of both minors in custody and attempting to cross the border unaccompanied in recent weeks.

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The White House has touted internal polling that shows support for Biden’s version of immigration reform. A Spectrum News/Ipsos poll also favorably contrasted voter approval of Biden’s handling of the border with Trump’s and Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s.

Still, the poll found only 45% approved of how Biden was dealing with immigration, significantly below his rating in other areas.

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