We were under the impression that President Joe Biden was going to elevate the welcoming image of the Statue of Liberty. After four years of the previous administration’s Muslim bans, derogatory comments about certain lesser-developed countries, disturbing reports and images of children separated from their parents and housed in cages and fearmongering about caravans of criminals coming to the United States, Biden’s warm words about his immigration plans were soothing. And we were encouraged by his February proposal to raise the previous cap of 15,000 immigrants to 62,500 for the rest of the fiscal year (which ends Sept. 30) and to raise it to 125,000 for the following year.
But none of that has come to pass. In fact, only 2,050 refugees have been admitted this year, which portends an annual rate of approximately 4,500 refugee admissions.
Last Friday, Biden muddied the immigration waters even further. First, he announced that this year’s admission projections would be scaled back to the previous cap of 15,000. Then, in response to withering criticism from Democrats and human rights activists, the White House promised to release a higher admissions number by May 15.
As Biden approaches the end of his first 100 days in office, the immigration issue is quickly becoming a major problem for his administration. Liberals are shaking their heads, and even centrists and most of the media are expressing concern.
So many things are going wrong — and all are happening at the same time. From the crush of migrants at the southern border to the thousands of unaccompanied children who are being kept in government-run detention facilities that critics say are inhumane to the surprise announcement by border czar Roberta Jacobson that she will soon step down from the job she just accepted.
We are left with uncertainty, and we are joined in our confusion by members of Biden’s own team. According to reports, shortly after Biden’s February announcement some State Department officials began booking flights for refugees who had been waiting to enter the U.S. for years, and had already been cleared of national security and public health concerns. Those reports claim that some 715 refugees whose travel arrangements were made by Biden’s own State Department had their reservations abruptly canceled.
No one in the administration has provided a clear answer to what has gone wrong. Nor has anyone explained the details of Biden’s immigration plan. Concern is mounting. Even the editorial board of The Washington Post — which has been a steady and uncompromising supporter of Biden and his agenda — took the unusual step of harshly criticizing the president in a forceful editorial early last week that focused on immigration.
Something needs to be done. The problem is getting worse. It is beyond time for the Biden administration to act with the same force and purpose with which it has sought to make bold moves on coronavirus treatment and control, infrastructure and other social justice issues.
The president owns the immigration mess. He needs to address it. Lady Liberty is lonely.