Two and a half months have passed since President Joe Biden designated Vice President Kamala Harris as his administration’s border czar. Harris, who half-heartedly accepted her daunting new task, has neither been to the Southwest border to personally watch the ongoing illegal immigrant influx nor given a press conference on the subject. But she’ll meet with Alejandro Giammattei and Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the Guatemalan and Mexican presidents, to address what the White House refers to as migration’s “root causes.” Earlier, Harris spoke twice with both remotely.
The Biden administration’s critics, specifically of its border mismanagement, are disappointed that a two-day public relations trip is offered up as a serious approach to the grave problem that tens of thousands of arriving migrants represents. On the eve of her trip, officials announced that Harris will offer coronavirus vaccines, and millions of dollars towards humanitarian relief, food insecurity and anti-corruption measures.
That’s all well and good. The U.S. should take every reasonable measure to help struggling Central Americans. But those are, at best, long-term solutions that do little to offset decades of the federal government’s tolerance, if not encouragement, of illegal immigration, and Congress’ refusal under Republican and Democratic administrations to pass programs that would eliminate the jobs magnet, and at the same time protect American workers: E-Verify and an entry-exit system that would curb visa overstays.
Harris doesn’t have to look far to identify the true root cause of the border surges: the presidential campaign rhetoric that Biden and she engaged in, along with Biden’s post-inauguration determination to open the border, and to gut Immigration Customs and Enforcement, as well as Customs and Border Protection. On Biden’s first day as president, he signed 17 executive orders that expanded immigration.
Leading up to and during her failed 2020 presidential effort, Harris spoke out in favor of decriminalizing illegal border crossing, offering health care to unlawfully present immigrants, and indirectly compared ICE to the KKK. During ICE nominee Ronald Vitiello’s Senate confirmation history, Harris asked if he saw any parallels between agents and the KKK.
Then, as if to one-up Harris, Biden promised that “no one would be deported at all” during his administration’s first 100 days, and promised amnesty for the existing illegal immigrant population, possibly as many as 20 million. As part of Biden’s plan, illegal immigrants deported during the Trump administration would be flown back to the U.S. at taxpayer expense to qualify for amnesty.
To minimize the heat and to keep from dashing her well-known presidential ambitions too quickly given the near-impossible nature of her assignment, Harris is downplaying her mission as simply fact-finding. But if Harris were sincerely interested in facts, she would have engaged another of the Northern Triangle presidents, El Salvador’s Nayib Bukele.
In an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, Bukele spoke the harsh truth that Harris would prefer not to hear. Before his interview, Carlson reminded his audience that immigration has, over the last 30 years, contributed to a 100 million population increase, and that mass illegal immigration is permanent because few get sent home. Bukele, while acknowledging that El Salvador has largely failed to provide economically for its citizens, told Carlson that mass immigration is “bad for both of us.”
Over the years, more than a third of Salvadorans have migrated, most to the U.S. Many are young, bold and ambitious — the profile of people who could eventually improve their native country. As Bukele explained, loose immigration in the U.S. helps makes El Salvador a net exporter of people, not products or services. The result is that the Salvadoran economy becomes dependent on remittances from the U.S. For the U.S., immigration goes up, population increases, and El Salvador remains dependent on money sent home, a “bad economic formula” for both countries, Bukele concluded.
If it pleases him, Biden can send Harris on a fool’s errand, but few Americans are deceived by his unconstitutional plan — little or no enforcement and wide-open borders, the most radical, unprecedented immigration agenda in presidential history that defies laws that Congress has passed.
Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.