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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Gov. Kim Reynolds and 25 fellow Republican governors this past week sent a letter to President Joe Biden to request a meeting at the White House to “bring an end to the national security crisis” at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“The negative impacts of an unenforced border policy on the American people can no longer be ignored. Border apprehensions are up almost 500% compared to last year, totaling more than 1.3 million people — more than the populations of nine U.S. states,” the governors wrote.
Think about that for a moment: Border policy is going unenforced, yet border apprehensions have sextupled? It doesn’t add up.
Republican governors might be nativist, spiteful and just plain wrong. They might be prescribing counterproductive solutions, scapegoating peaceful migrants and pandering to racists. But the crisis at the border is not their fault — it’s Joe Biden’s. The president, not the governor, has the power to fix this by ending his cruel border enforcement policies.
The cruelty is the point.
Iowa Democrats have taken every opportunity to slam Reynolds over her anti-immigration statements this year. To my knowledge, though, no Democrat in state office has criticized their own president’s anti-immigration actions.
“Gov. Reynolds should be spending less time participating in political stunts about the southern border and more time focused on making COVID-19 testing more widely available in Iowa,” wrote Zach Wahls, top Democrat in the Iowa Senate.
It might seem like an odd strategy to link immigration enforcement to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that is exactly what the Biden administration is doing. It is using the public health crisis as a despicable excuse to expel thousands of migrants who are seeking our help.
The federal government under Biden has taken some steps to ease enforcement on people already in the country, giving rise to “open border” misinformation. But the government has actually continued much of former President Donald Trump’s brutal closed-border regime.
A week ago near Del Rio, Texas — the same area Reynolds sent state police to assist Texas officials this summer — federal border authorities on horses started chasing down and detaining Haitian migrants. The Biden administration plans to expel thousands of them under a Trump-era policy.
The policy, known as Title 42, allows the government to block asylum applications in the name of public health. It relies on the lie that foreigners are dirty and riddled with disease. Biden is defending the measure against legal challenges from the ACLU and others.
If someone with a gun and the backing of the most powerful government on the planet is chasing you down to ship you overseas, it probably doesn’t matter if they drive a horse, an SUV or a helicopter.
When a group of migrants arrived back in Haiti — where many of them have not lived for several years — they were left to search through an unmarked pile of bags for their belongings, according to video from the scene.
Responding to backlash, federal officials said days later they would end the use of horses in that area. Photos of the animals made for bad public relations, but if someone with a gun and the backing of the most powerful government on the planet is chasing you down to ship you overseas, it probably doesn’t matter if they drive a horse, an SUV or a helicopter.
Given that Biden is an extension of Trump on border policy, it’s not clear what his Republican critics would have him do.
“Our immigration system may be complicated and complex, but the solution to ending the border crisis is simple and straightforward,” Reynolds and company wrote in their letter to the White House.
They don’t go on to explain what that solution is, except to say “protect America, restore security, and end the crisis now.” The solution the governors don’t mention really is simple and straightforward: Let migrants come to the country legally.
They are coming here because they don’t have a secure future in their home countries. They are sneaking in or congregating at the border because there is no legal path to entry.
Contrary to both GOP and White House talking points, there is no line for people to get in. Unless they have a connection here — a family member, a job, a school — for most foreigners, there is basically no way to get long-term legal status in the United States.
Biden doesn’t need Republican governors’ support to stop the expulsions and deportations. He doesn’t even need Congress. He alone has the power to stop border expulsions and allow asylum-seekers to enter the country.
Sadly, the new president is employing the exact same strategy as the old one. He hopes to send a message to other migrants not to approach our border. The cruelty is the point.
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