During the last administration, I worked on several State of the Union speeches. So, I understand the allure of writing zingers meant to force the opposing party to clap. In 2019, Trump touted that in his economy, women filled the majority of job openings, which inspired a full on dance party from the ladies on the Left.
Unfortunately, President Biden could not identify an accomplishment to force the Republicans to their feet. But, he did make some promises, including that we need to “secure the border.” To this, a Colorado congresswoman shouted, “Build the Wall!” Biden did not commit to doing so. Instead, the contractors (who were ready to build), and the land (already acquired), will continue to sit idle while hundreds of thousands of migrants tread across our border every month.
If not a wall, what was President Biden’s border security plan? His proposed plan of speeding up immigration proceedings is likely to make the problem worse. Why? The Biden administration is not detaining aliens during their immigration proceedings, meaning migrants don’t show up to them, and ICE never bothers to find them. The Biden administration has vowed not to remove any alien even after a judge determines that the alien has no right to be here, unless the alien is an extreme danger to the community. That means, for the vast majority of aliens, he can come to the United States, claim asylum, lose his asylum claim, and stay forever anyway. What good is a fast court process when the entire court process is meaningless?
Then there were smaller things barely related to the problem we’re seeing. For one, President Biden asked for better scanners at ports of entry. I’ve been to the border and I’ve seen these scanners. Like TSA screenings, they look inside semi-trucks to see if drugs are hidden in the tires. At best, new scanners will save customs agents some time, because the pictures will be clearer. But this has nothing to do with between–the-ports drug trafficking, which will only increase in the absence of physical barriers (you know, a wall).
Second, he’s going to “patrol” for human traffickers. Hm. I guarantee he will find them. It’s not that anyone is hiding. Traffickers and smugglers must pay cartels in order to cross the cartels’ various regions. Patrolling assumes that illegal immigration is a game of hide-and-go-seek. It isn’t. It’s blatant, obvious border crossing, all while enriching cartels and destabilizing the government of Mexico.
And finally, the President is going to work with Northern Triangle countries to keep refugees there. That’s no short term fix. Migrants seeking economic opportunities are not dumb. As I have written, the United States is a rich and prosperous country, with a GDP per capita of more than $65,000, compared with Guatemala’s $4,500 (the highest of the three countries). Migrants therefore want to make it to the U.S. even if they could just move one country over. That means, true border security is needed today, while we work to develop western hemisphere stability for the long term.
The State of the Union speech may have included the phrase “border security,” but it detailed nothing of the kind. Asking for applause does not solve problems, and we really could use some problem solving right now.