It took less than three months for the Biden administration to create the biggest border crisis in decades.
Illegal crossings at our southern border are on track to hit their highest level in 20 years. The number of unaccompanied children crossing the border jumped by more than 80% between February and March. Border patrol is overwhelmed and exhausted, yet every day the situation gets worse.
This crisis did not happen by accident. It is the result of bad policy decisions and a naïve approach to our southern neighbors.
Most of this wave of illegal immigrants is coming from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. They cross through Mexico to reach our border. It’s not that the governments of those countries are anti-American. In fact, at least in Guatemala and Honduras, the governments are very friendly to us.
Rather, there is a disastrous combination of poverty, gang violence, and drug and human trafficking that puts heavy pressure on those governments to sometimes do less than they can to stop the migration of their people. American leadership is needed to get those countries to do the right thing.
At the United Nations, I knew that standing up to America’s enemies is a daily requirement. But I also knew that it’s critically important to let our friends know what we expect of them. Too often our allies fail to support U.S. interests as much as they should. They take us for granted and don’t take the steps we need them to take.
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President Donald Trump clearly understood this. He was blunt with the countries most responsible for illegal immigration. He told them what America’s expectations were – namely, that they get migration under control within their borders, so it never reached our border. He was equally blunt about the consequences if they didn’t.
I made the same point when I traveled to Guatemala and Honduras as U.N. ambassador. I brought it up with my fellow ambassadors at U.N. headquarters too. Our point was your countries are our partners, and we expect more from you to get this crisis under control.
Such honesty is key to real leadership. It shows respect to the American people since it advances our interests. It shows respect to America’s partners since it tells them what they need to hear. That’s why Trump was able to reach historic immigration agreements with Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. When you make your expectations clear, you get results.
President Joe Biden has gone in a very different direction. In the eyes of the left, everything Donald Trump did has to be wrong and must be reversed. In their view, Trump doesn’t even get the benefit of a broken clock that’s right twice a day. When it comes to immigration policy, this Biden zeal to erase all Trump policies has led to immediate disastrous results.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris should be demanding that Central American countries do their part to stop illegal immigration.
Since his first day in office, Biden has rolled back even the most effective of Trump immigration policies. He suspended deportations and stopped the "remain in Mexico" policy that prevented asylum seekers from staying in the U.S. while their applications are processed. By repealing these policies, Biden has sent a message to Mexico and Central America: America’s borders are wide open.
Biden recently put Vice President Kamala Harris in charge of the administration’s response to the immigration surge. That sends a message too. Harris once encouraged a 7,000-person migrant caravan to come to America and compared Immigration and Customs Enforcement to the KKK. Just last month, she laughed when asked if she would travel to the southern border. With Harris on the job, illegal immigrants know the Biden administration isn’t serious about stopping them.
Biden’s policy reversals also tell our partners in Mexico and Central America that they don’t need to do anything to get this crisis under control. These countries are not anti-American, like Venezuela or Cuba. They want good relations with the U.S., but their current inaction should be expected.
Simple human nature says that when you don’t ask someone to do something, they won’t do it. Our president has to demand that they step up. Right now, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris should be demanding that Central American countries do their part to stop illegal immigration.
Joe Biden’s lack of leadership has created this crisis. Kamala Harris’s liberal agenda won’t fix it. It’s too much to expect them to give Donald Trump any credit, but this isn’t about credit. It’s about stopping a disaster on our border.
Toughening up with our southern neighbors would go a long way. It did until about two months ago.