Hubris and Denial at the State of the Union

Such is the hubris in our nation’s capital today that our leaders believe they can make difficult problems go away either by ignoring them or acting as if recent history never happened. That was the inescapable conclusion after hearing Joe Biden’s fantastical take on our border security crisis in Tuesday’s State of the Union address.

Make no mistake, we as a nation are facing myriad crises including the situation in Ukraine, inflation, and pandemic recovery, to name a few. It is, however, beyond a dereliction of duty to treat the situation at the border as just another problem, like potholes in Des Moines or empty storefronts in St. Louis. It is an existential crisis for our nation that will have long-range effects on our future.

In a speech that lasted just over an hour, Biden devoted exactly one minute and 40 seconds to the border crisis, relegated to the final 10 minutes of the presentation. During that scant amount of time we heard what sounded like a newly inaugurated president tackling the problems he inherited, not one who assumed a stable border over a year ago and has turned it into a hellscape.

If Biden’s words came with real-time fact-checking at the bottom of the screen, it would have looked something like this:

“And if we are to advance liberty and justice, we need to secure the border and fix the immigration system.”

Longtime immigration enforcement professionals have detailed how Biden inherited the most secure border environment in decades. It is primarily because of the flood of executive orders that Biden signed in his first week in office that the border devolved so quickly.

“We can do both. At our border, we’ve installed new technology like cutting-edge scanners to better detect drug smuggling.”

While technology plays a role, there is no substitute for a fortified border wall and border patrol agents who can devote their time to actually patrolling the border. Since Biden encouraged the world to surge the border while campaigning in 2020, border patrol agents have been overwhelmed with foreign nationals at border checkpoints. Meanwhile, cartels can get drugs across unmanned, unwalled sections of the border. Relying on scanner technology alone instead of a wall does not prevent illegal crossings.

“We’ve set up joint patrols with Mexico and Guatemala to catch more human traffickers.”

Arresting individual coyotes who ferry migrants will not put a dent in the massive cartel operation. With the Biden Administration dangling the lure of easy access into the United States, the demand to cross our border will remain strong. Cartels have great influence in Central America. They will find a way to get people across the border as long as they have what amounts to an ally in the White House.

“We’re securing commitments and supporting partners in South and Central America to host more refugees and secure their own borders.”

The Trump-era Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as the Remain in Mexico policy, were highly effective at keeping foreign nationals outside the United States while awaiting their hearings, which served as an effective deterrent for large-scale caravans. Biden tried to kill MPP his first week in office. The only reason he is working with Mexico now is because a district court ordered him to reinstate MPP, and an attempt to reverse that order was struck down by the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.  

“Revise our laws so businesses have the workers they need and families don’t wait decades to reunite.”

Businesses “have the workers they need” right here in the United States. Many businesses would rather exploit illegal aliens, however, by paying substandard wages instead of hiring legal workers. When that happens, wages and opportunities are depressed for U.S. workers. A needed revision would be to mandate programs like E-Verify that would ensure employers are not using cheap illegal alien labor. Those here illegally don’t need to “wait decades to reunite.” They are free to return to their home countries, reunite with their families and apply for U.S. citizenship legally.

“It’s not only the right thing to do—it’s the economically smart thing to do.”

The anti-borders position that Biden and his fellow travelers have long  advocated is not economically smart. It is bankrupting our nation. The annual national fiscal cost of illegal immigration is currently in excess of $133 billion and increasing yearly. These positions also result in overcrowded schools and emergency rooms and drain limited social services resources. Loosening our borders might be one of the least economically smart things that we can do.

Few expect hard analysis to come out of a made-for-television production such as a State of the Union address. At least we should get a chief executive who takes responsibility for his mistakes and exhibits awareness of the dangers we face going forward. At the moment we are getting neither.

About Brian Lonergan

Brian Lonergan is an adjunct fellow of the Center for American Greatness and director of communications at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of mass migration.

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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