Last week’s Quinnipiac University poll showing the public losing confidence in Joe Biden’s ability to serve as a competent commander-in-chief of the military, steward of the economy, and custodian of public health also found that voters had soured on his handling of issues relating to immigration. Although it has not been widely discussed, the president’s mishandling of the situation at the border is producing the most antipathy for Biden’s presidency among his fellow Democrats.
Overall, Joe Biden received his lowest marks on immigration issues. Just 25 percent of all voters approve of the president’s handling of immigration, and a mere 23 percent back Biden’s approach to the crisis of migrants surging across the U.S.-Mexico border. No president gets numbers like these unless a substantial portion of his base has abandoned him. Sure enough, Democrats are driving this collapse.
Only 51 percent of self-identified Democrats affirmatively support the White House’s approach to immigration issues. When it comes to “the situation at the Mexican border,” only half of Democrats back Biden’s policy. Joe Biden has earned their apathy or even outright hostility. The president has engaged on border issues in a halting and contradictory manner that privileges setting the right narrative over establishing a coherent policy. In doing so, he’s antagonized anyone who has an informed opinion on the subject.
The crisis at the Southern border was vividly illustrated in mid-September when one temporary-housing facility located under an overpass in Texas was inundated by thousands of migrants—many of them Haitian. According to U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz, the tide of migrants streaming over the border was due, in part, to word of mouth and social media-fueled rumors alleging that the Del Rio border crossing was all but open. It’s no secret as to where these migrants got that idea. When Biden entered office, he rolled back hundreds of Trump-era actions on immigration. He put a halt to the deportation of certain non-citizens, put an end to the “remain in Mexico” program, and lifted restrictions on foreign workers and students seeking visas. Much of this undoubtedly aggravated immigration skeptics on the left—an endangered species on cable sets and op-ed pages, but they frustratingly continue to exist.
And yet, Joe Biden’s executive agencies responded to that miserable display and the migrant crisis that precipitated it by applying the full force of the law to reinforce American sovereignty. After all, that, too, is consistent with how the Biden administration has managed affairs on its Southern border. The administration had also abided by the 1997 Flores Settlement, which recommends housing migrant minors in unlicensed facilities for no more than 20 days. That necessitated the establishment of emergency facilities for child migrants and the reimposition of a policy of family separation, albeit one that was applied mostly on the Mexican side of the Southern border.
When border-patrol officers were photographed on horseback rounding up primarily Haitian migrants, progressives—including the principals in the Biden administration—were incensed by what White House Press Sec. Jen Psaki called “horrific and horrible” behavior on display. Thus, the Biden administration changed the subject from the objectively inhuman conditions they were presiding over. But in changing the subject, the White House had also indicted its own executive agencies and the chief executor of the nation’s laws, Joe Biden. And why not? Who did they expect progressives would blame for what the White House insisted was the deliberate misconduct of federal law-enforcement officers?
Last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott joined nine other Republican governors to denounce the administration’s handling of this months-old migration situation. They savaged the Biden White House for its lackadaisical approach to the ongoing humanitarian crisis and for turning a blind eye to its associated ills, such as the influx of opioid narcotics that are pouring into border states. That same week, Vice President Kamala Harris, whom the administration tapped to serve as the face of the administration’s response to that crisis, skipped a high-level meeting on the subject between administration officials and their Mexican counterparts to visit a daycare facility in New Jersey.
You couldn’t ask for a better metaphor. From the start, the White House has never had a coherent strategic approach to immigration. They’ve treated every news cycle that erupts around this ongoing crisis as a political headache that they can wiggle their way out of with deft messaging alone. The result is a chaotic policy tainted with an air of contemptible disregard that has angered everyone within the Democratic coalition who expects more from Joe Biden than just not being Donald Trump.