by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Joseph Simonson of the Washington Free Beacon reports on the response to President Biden’s latest messaging about the southern border.
Over the last four months, President Joe Biden has rolled out a series of immigration policies that could just as easily have emerged from former president Donald Trump’s administration: a hard cap on the number of Latin Americans who can claim asylum in the United States, temporary deportation to Mexico for those asylum seekers, and a planned reimplementation of detaining migrant families behind bars.
Staring down an estimated 5.5 million southern border crossings since the president took office—the most in U.S. history—Democratic strategists say Biden’s 180-degree pivot on immigration underscores his vulnerability on the issue as he prepares to run for a second term. Polling suggests the issue is a liability for the president: A March Associated Press poll found that just 39 percent of U.S. adults approve of his handling of immigration, while just 38 percent approve of his response to the border crisis.
“I think the electorate is much closer to the center on immigration than where the White House has been,” said Democratic political consultant Mike Mikus, who has worked for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the campaign of former Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf (D.). “The people who decide elections are in the middle.”
But virtually all of Biden’s attempts to pivot to the center on the border, which is still seeing a historically high number crossings, are too little too late and meant to grab headlines rather than solve the problem, critics say. Working with allies to accept more migrants or creating a new asylum application process may prompt media commentary about Biden’s attempt at triangulation in the lead-up to 2024, those critics allege, but do nothing to change the fact that millions of Latin Americans believe they are welcome to start new lives in the United States.