[guest post by JVW]
Noah Rothman spells it out:
Biden is so bereft of “options” for dealing with the crisis-level surge of migrants crossing the southern border that he had no choice but to sidle up to Mexico, asking for the approximate level of cooperation from Mexican authorities that was provided during the pandemic.
As NBC reported, when asked to enthusiastically support Biden’s preferred border policies, Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador made some demands of his own: $20 billion in assistance for Mexico and its neighbors, an end to the blockade of Cuba, lifting all sanctions on Venezuela, and the extension of work and residency permits to no fewer than 10 million illegal immigrants already inside the U.S. The unfeasibility of López Obrador’s demands explains a flourish in NBC News’ reporting, in which its journalists pointedly reminded readers that the Mexican government “would prefer that President Joe Biden win re-election in November,” and the border crisis only complicates that objective. It’s all rather unseemly.
It’s no surprise that the leftist President Obrador would seek to benefit Mexico from his American counterpart’s befuddlement at a crisis which the Biden Administration greatly exacerbated through kowtowing to the soft borders lobby in his party, but the fact that the Mexican president would demand changes in U.S. policy towards Cuba and Venezuela, two failed states which are ideologically opposed to the United States, suggests strongly that he sees the Biden Administration as hopelessly weak and is willing to press his advantage well beyond his own interests. But he clearly understands that Mexican cooperation can have a strong effect on our own border security. Mr. Rothman explains:
Less than a week after the White House leaned on Mexico City to preempt more border crossings on its side of the Rio Grande, a show of good faith by Mexican authorities has led to a decline in apprehensions along the border by about 75 percent. Arrests were down to 2,500 last week compared with more than 10,000 in late December. “In the Border Patrol’s busiest area, arrests totaled 13,800 during the seven-day period ending Friday,” the Associated Press reported, “down 29% from 19,400 two weeks earlier, according to Tucson, Arizona, sector chief John Modlin.”
It turns out that inattentiveness on the Mexican side of the border plays a great deal into how much traffic we get on the U.S. side of the border. Yet the U.S. itself can do much more to prevent, apprehend, and return illegal border crossers. Mr. Rothman reminds us that last autumn when the Biden Administration caved to GOP concerns in order to reach a debt-limit deal and tightened border enforcement, the number of apprehensions of Venezuelans making illegal crossings fell by nearly half. We have the manpower and resources to make this permanent, but we do not have a President who has the will to make it happen because he is in thrall to his party’s most shrill activists where illegal immigration is concerned. Moreover, the Administration is putting undue emphasis on the “root causes” nonsense so popular among progressive thinkers. Mr. Rothman explains exactly what is the problem with that [emphasis added by me]:
But the focus on “root causes” appears to have come at the expense of the Biden administration’s approach to mitigating immigration’s “push factors.” Foremost among those factors is the deterrent to illegal migration represented by the certainty that would-be border crosses will not succeed in reaching their destination, and that, if they do, they will find themselves facing expedited deportation.
The border issues are causing massive headaches for Team Biden. The main subject of Noah Rothman’s essay is NBC News’s ridiculous framing of its report that Joe Biden is a man without any good options for controlling illegal border crossings, when in fact he has plenty of tools at his disposal but lacks the will to stand up to a loud and aggressive part of his party’s base. The self-made dilemma that he is facing is that his inaction is irking other important parts of his coalition, and sharp criticism from Southwestern Democrats like Katie Hobbs in Arizona and Catherine Cortez-Masto in Nevada suggests that they sense that voters in their state are not pleased with the status quo.
Congressional Republicans are demanding a commitment to more stringent border security in exchange for blessing the $1.59 trillion budget deal that Speaker Mike Johnson hammered out with Senator Chuck Schumer and Team Biden over the weekend. Time will tell if they manage to wring some concessions out of the Democrats, but something tells me that the GOP won’t be too broken-hearted to lose this fight and continue to force Joe Biden and his party to own the mess at the border.