By: Lucas Green | Contributor
Immigration policy has been a political gold mine for the past few years as politicians against immigration or for immigration use it to rally their followers. The effect of immigration reform on a political base is almost equivalent to the power of gun control legislation.
Knowing this, both Donald Trump and Joe Biden leaned into their party’s ideas on immigration in the 2020 election. Trump promised to remain strict on migrants trying to come into the U.S. along the Texas-Mexico border. At the same time, Biden said he would roll back Trump-era immigration policy and make the pathway to citizenship much easier for those entering the U.S.
Now, Joe Biden has begun enacting his immigration policy as President, and the situation doesn’t look good for anybody. There has been a recent surge in the number of migrants trying to enter the U.S. following Joe Biden’s election. The Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the southern border is “on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years.”
According to NBC, in February alone, 100,000 migrants reached the border, which is three times the amount seen in February of 2020 and the highest in a single month in the past five years.
A majority of Republicans blame Joe Biden for this surge in immigration, saying that the Biden administration’s relaxed policies have encouraged more and more people to try and immigrate to the U.S. The White House has announced that the border is closed, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping anyone currently. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat representative of a border district in Texas, has described the Biden Administration’s plan as “terrible” in an interview with USA Today.
Cuellar was also the person who leaked photos inside one of the migrant facilities and sparked outrage over the current conditions after journalists were denied access. Inside, the facilities were not so dissimilar to the way they had been during the Trump Presidency.
According to Cuellar, migrants were being crammed into pods and separated by sheets of plastic. There was one instance where a room built for 260 people had 400 people inside of it. NPR also reported that under the current regulations, independent migrant children are supposed to be moved into the Department of Homeland Security custody within 72 hours. Still, some children have remained at these migrant facilities for nearly ten days.
Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut has defended the current situation by saying the Biden administration has “inherited an absolute mess and wreck” and the situation is “better than what we saw in 2019.” This is not calming the Republicans, though, as they blame the immigration facilities’ problems on the number of migrants encouraged to come to the U.S. by Biden’s immigration plans.
John Moore, a photojournalist for the Washington Post, was one of the journalists denied access to the migrant facilities under the new Biden Administration. Moore covered immigration at the Texas-Mexico border under the previous four administrations and even during the beginning of the pandemic.
As more was learned about the virus, restrictions on photojournalists were lifted and Moore continued his coverage, but now that Joe Biden has taken over, his access has been denied. In an article for the Washington Post covering the current situation at the border, Moore said, “it is plainly one of the biggest news stories of the year — and the world deserves to see it. For that to happen, journalists need to [have] access to Border Patrol operations. The Biden administration should end its unjustifiable policy of restricting us.”