As early as next week, border officials will begin allowing thousands of asylum seekers to cross the border into the U.S. — a stark reversal of the Trump administraion policy that led more than 68,000 migrants to stay behind.
The undoing of the “remain in Mexico” policy, along with reorienting Immigration and Customs Enforcement to prioritize national security threats rather than convicting illegal immigrants with low-level drug offenses, simple assaults and DUIs, signals a major shift in the U.S. immigration process.
“He [Biden] created a perfect storm for a surge at the border,” said Tom Homan, retired ICE director and Fox News contributor, detailing the constraints placed on Customs and Border Patrol and ICE officials on processing and vetting immigrants at ports of entry.
Making good on his campaign promise to reform immigration policies, President Biden plans to allow up to 25,000 asylum seekers to cross the border as early as Feb. 19, and around 300 people per day, as the administration increases the flow of immigrants into the U.S.
But the coupling of increased immigration and new ICE protocols is raising alarm among former Trump officials, who say the new approach weakens border enforcement.
“This policy pretty much dismantled their enforcement operations,” Homan said. “This is a terrible policy for public safety. It’s anti-enforcement policy, the worst policy I’ve seen in my 35 years of enforcing immigration law.”
The controversial memo from Acting ICE Director Tae Johnson — which was released by the Washington Post on Feb. 7, draws up new procedures: “Generally, these convictions would not include drug based crimes (less serious offenses), simple assault, DUI, money laundering, property crimes, fraud, tax crimes, solicitation, or charges without convictions.”
While the policy has yet to be officially announced by the Department of Homeland Security, many immigration advocates are responding by saying that Biden’s policies offer a safer process for immigrants to enter the country.
“I think what the Biden administration is doing here is they are prioritizing valuable law enforcement resources on significant public safety threats,” National Immigration Forum Executive Director Ali Noorani told Fox News.
“The Trump administration’s approach at the border and even to drug trafficking did practically nothing to improve the safety of American families,” Noorani said. “So it’s clearly time for a different approach here. Let’s develop a functioning immigration system.”
But some say the Biden administration isn’t doing enough to keep bad actors out.
For Sabine Durden-Coulter, whose son Dominic, 30, was killed in 2012 by a drunken driver who was in the country illegally, vetting immigrants should be a top priority. The immigrant who took her son’s life in California had several felony convictions, including a prior DUI.
“It’s absolutely the worst message any president could send to the world to say we’re wide open,” Durden-Coulter told Fox News.
“It’s ripping that wound wide open every time I hear of another victim,” she said. “It’s devastating to know to see the train wreck and know how many more will be affected.”
Below is Durden-Coulter’s letter to President Biden:
[scribd id=494415461 key=key-MyGUqe3e2GUcPBZ7XVc6 mode=scroll]
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki clarified on Thursday that the intention of new immigration policies is not to increase illegal border crossings.
“We don’t want people to put themselves in danger at a time where it is not the right time to come, because we have not had time to put in place a humane and moral system and process,” Psaki said.
But in the first month of 2021, Customs and Border Patrol averaged around 3,000 border arrests per day, with encounters at the border at the highest rate since July 2019.
Homan believes the number of incidents will increase, because “it’s no longer illegal to be illegal in the United States.”