Biden has only himself to blame for border fiasco

US President Joe Biden speaks with US Customs and Border Protection officers as he visits the US-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas, on January 8, 2023. (JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

Faced with an obvious political crisis — a recent CBS News poll found that 70% of respondents disapproved of President Joe Biden’s border policies — the White House and Democrats have reached the pinnacle of desperation: They’re trying to pin blame for the immigration fiasco on House Republicans.

This is preposterous.


It’s true that many GOP House members have expressed antipathy for a proposed compromise on border policy being negotiated in the Senate as part of an effort to pass the president’s proposal for aid to Ukraine and Israel. It’s also true that Donald Trump hopes to exploit the border issue in the upcoming campaign and is thus urging Republicans to blow up any potential deal under the belief that it would help Biden politically.

But none of that matters. Biden doesn’t need any Republican support at all in order to take effective steps to clean up the border mess. He has the executive power to do so on his own — but he refuses to exercise it.

The Biden administration has taken dozens of actions — through executive orders and otherwise — that have encouraged migrants to crash our southern border. For instance, the White House at one point imposed a moratorium on deportations and immigration enforcement. It has expanded asylum eligibility, creating an incentive for immigrants to enter the country illegally. It has released thousands of migrants into the hinterlands without any means of ensuring they will show up for asylum hearings, which could be years down the road. It has gone to court to scuttle efforts by border states dealing with the problem themselves.

These moves and many others have culminated in the situation that exists today.

“Existing law not only allows the Department of Homeland Security to detain aliens apprehended at the border — it requires the department to do so,” Andrew Arthur of the Center for Immigration Studies noted in a New York Post commentary this week. “The administration’s insistence on ‘catch and release’ in lieu of that detention mandate is the border crisis’s biggest driver.”

Arthur continued: “Biden claims he needs additional powers to secure the border, but prior administrations showed that existing authorities are more than adequate. The issue’s not power but will, and Congress can’t legislate that.”

Biden created this problem to curry favor with the progressives who advocate for open borders. There’s no denying that both major parties for years have failed in their obligation to craft a workable long-term compromise that balances the value of legal immigration with the importance of secure borders.

But the president’s cynical effort to deflect blame for the consequences of his own policies highlights again how, at this White House, the buck always stops somewhere else.