In Mexico and in camps along the U.S.-Mexico border, migrants and refugees are gathering, awaiting the day when the new president tells them they can come on in.
A humanitarian crisis is building on our border, forcing Joe Biden to scale back his immediate plans to radically change immigration policies. He has delayed the formation of a committee to reunite families who were separated when the parents were caught trying to enter the U.S. illegally with their children. A federal judge ordered a halt to his 100-day moratorium on deportations. And Republicans in the Senate are dragging their feet on confirming Biden’s Homeland Security secretary.
Activists want more and they wanted it yesterday.
“It’s just the beginning. Now we have to see what else they’re going to do,” said Lorella Praeli, president of Community Change Action. “They’re going to have to put in serious political capital and prioritize legalizing people via congressional action and continue to take seriously the need for a massive overhaul of our immigration enforcement system.”
Biden may not have mentioned the word “amnesty,” but activists and refugees alike know that it’s coming soon. And as hope grows for legal status for anyone in the U.S. regardless of how they got there, so do the migrant camps along the border.
The population of a makeshift camp in the Mexican border city of Matamoros, across the river from Brownsville, Texas, has been slowly swelling, migrants and aid workers say, despite attempts by Mexican authorities to control it.
“It’s been growing because people think that if you’re in the camp, you’ll be able to enter (the United States) first,” said Honduran asylum seeker Oscar Borjas, who estimated up to 800 people, including women and children, live in the camp.
They’re also hopeful in Mexico as 65,000 refugees who were part of the “Remain in Mexico” policy wait for word that they, too, can move toward the border. And if permission doesn’t come soon, they’re prepared to take matters into their own hands.
The Boston Herald quoted immigration expert Todd Bensman:
“There’s thousands of Cubans in Mexico who are there under MPP (Migrant Protection Protocols, the formal name of the “Remain in Mexico” policy) who are just demanding to get in. What they were telling me this week is that they are planning to do another ‘Bonzai’ mass migration … at some undisclosed place between the points of entry.”
Bensman, a Senior National Security Fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, has been at the Juarez-El Paso checkpoint interviewing migrants and Customs and Border Protection staff since Biden took office. He says the migrants waiting at the border don’t understand they’re still required to remain in Mexico and genuinely believe the Biden presidency means open borders — for them, at least.
This is what Biden didn’t realize when he initiated his immigration executive order spree. He radically underestimated the hope — false or otherwise — that his presidency has engendered for desperate, poor people trying to flee poverty and violence. It is a hope fed by activists who tell would-be immigrants that salvation is coming.
The problem for Biden is that the longer he waits, the more desperate these people will get. Eventually, people will either try to storm the border or cross illegally, banking on the Biden administration’s potential amnesty so they won’t have to go back.
This is Biden’s mess, not Trump’s.