By the end of his first term two years from now, President Biden may have released 3 or 4 million (maybe even 5 million) illegal immigrants into the United States. Some of them will apply for asylum, some of those will actually show up for hearings, and some of those will win their cases — but the large majority won’t do any of these things. Under Biden, these millions will just be allowed to stay illegally.
Why? What is the administration thinking?
Many commentators imagine the administration’s weak-borders policies are about importing voters for the Democrats. It’s true that, even if Republican plans for progress among Hispanics bear fruit, most Hispanic voters are still likely to lean Democrat.
But they need to be citizens to vote. And there just aren’t very many non-citizens — let alone illegal immigrants — voting.
Nor are Biden’s illegal immigrants likely to get legalized any time soon. The administration’s comprehensive immigration reform bill last year would have given green cards to those who’d arrived as little as three weeks before Inauguration Day, but it was dead on arrival. That could change if the Democrats increase their majorities in both houses of Congress this November, but that seems unlikely. Instead, Biden’s new batch of illegal immigrants will join the previous people living, if not in the shadows (you’re not in the shadows if you’re giving TV interviews and testifying before Congress), then at least in a kind of limbo.
Illegal immigrants also are counted in the Census for purposes of deciding how many congressmen — and how much federal money — each state gets. But that’s a pretty indirect and long-term issue, and doesn’t necessarily cut in the Democrats’ favor, since many of them settle in red states.
No, I think there’s another explanation.
The reason Biden’s immigration people, and the Democrats in Congress, are unwilling to enforce immigration law is because they think it’s wrong. They simply don’t believe that the American people have the right to keep anyone out. They see immigration limits of any kind as just another version of Jim Crow, a way of discriminating against foreigners who are just seeking a better life. And anyway, America is an illegitimate settler-colonial regime founded by phallocratic slaveholders and Indian-killers, so who are we to tell other people they can’t move here if they want?
The Department of Homeland Security has spelled this out in one of the memos explaining its anti-enforcement policies, which it justifies as a means of “advancing equity, civil rights, racial justice, and equal opportunity” and “advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.”
Immigration enforcement is immoral, don’t you see?
This perspective has long been gospel among the fever-swamps of Blue-Anon. But over the past couple of decades it has become a litmus test for Democratic officeholders and activists, an immutable value of the Left, which has to take precedence over any other interest or constituency.
The litmus test of open borders has led the ACLU to turn away from the cause of free speech, the Sierra Club from environmental protection, Big Labor from protecting the American worker, and the black political establishment from promoting the interests of their ostensible constituents.
It would almost be better if the administration and its supporters were purely cynical political actors, deliberately importing voters. The real explanation is deeper, more disturbing, and less amenable to a political solution.
Mark Krikorian is executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies.