President Biden and his administration effectively dismantled the nation’s immigration apparatus in just one year. Southern border arrests rose to levels never seen before. Deportations and arrests of those unlawfully present in the country fell to historic lows. Policies that kept the southern border secured and helped remove those here unlawfully were stripped almost immediately after the administration assumed the Oval Office.
What could have become a better issue for President Biden (especially with a Democrat-controlled House and Senate) became his worst. Immigration became his kryptonite and tanked his approval ratings. Now that we are in 2022, the question becomes whether President Biden and his administration will pursue new measures that steer the ship in a better direction. Below are five immigration-related predictions for the new year:
Prediction 1: Border Arrests Will Continue to Surge to Historic Records
Immigration authorities apprehended more than 1.7 million illegal aliens in FY 2021— encompassing the first nine months of the Biden presidency. This figure represents a 380 percent increase from FY 2020, the last full year of the Trump administration, and the highest total for a fiscal year on record. There is little reason to believe that these figures will drop anytime soon. The administration has halted the vast majority of southern border wall construction, not fully utilized the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program, suspended asylum cooperation agreements with the Northern Triangle countries, and restarted the Obama-era “catch and release” policies, in which hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens are arrested and immediately released into the interior of the country without detention. Combined, these moves encourage illegal immigration and make it harder for immigration authorities to arrest individuals coming to the border unlawfully.
In FY 2022, President Biden will oversee the southern border for 12 months — not nine — meaning one should expect apprehensions to increase even more this time around, and especially as the administration has made no effort to fully reinstate any of the previous administration’s immigration and border policies.
Prediction 2: There Will Be an Increase in Foreign Nationals Arriving from Extra-Continental Countries at the Southern Border
In FY 2021, the vast majority of border arrests were composed of individuals from Mexico, and the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. While this demographic trend may be similar in FY 2022, the number of individuals from extra-continental countries will likely rise.
In FY 2021, immigration authorities arrested individuals from more than 160 countries, including nearly 100,000 from Ecuador, 57,000 from Brazil, and 45,000 from Haiti. Immigration officials apprehended thousands of individuals from as far as India, China, and Russia, and some even on terror-watch lists from the Middle East. With word spreading that President Biden is doing nothing to secure our borders, one should expect extra-continental migration to occur more frequently in 2022.
Prediction 3: Mass Amnesty Efforts Will Crumble
In 2021, congressional Democrats attempted to insert a mass amnesty on three separate occasions into the expensive Build Back Better plan. The Senate parliamentarian rejected these efforts, while Senator Joe Manchin (W.Va) also opposed the plan as a whole, meaning the immigration provisions would have likely been shot down even if the Senate parliamentarian ruled in their favor. While Democrats still control the House, Senate, and White House, there is little momentum going into the new year. Few mechanisms remain to effectively pass an amnesty for millions of illegal aliens. With immigration being one of the administration’s least popular issues, and more pressing matters to address before the midterms including the economy and COVID-19, mass amnesty efforts could take a backseat.
Prediction 4: Arrests and Deportations of Illegal Aliens Will Remain Virtually Non-Existent
Under the Biden administration, arrests and deportations of illegal aliens reached historic lows during FY 2021. These anemic numbers are likely to sink even lower largely due to Biden administration memos put in place in early FY 2022 ending worksite enforcement operations, restricting when and where officers can initiate enforcement actions, and protecting most illegal aliens from deportation.
Anti-borders advocates within the Biden administration want to abolish ICE but that is likely an unattainable goal at present. Instead, the administration will continue to tie the hands of agents with egregious non-enforcement memorandums that exempt nearly all illegal aliens from removal, effectively abolishing the agency’s enforcement functions.
Thus, arrests and deportations will likely decrease in FY 2022 as more immigration enforcement policies will be eliminated, and more anti-enforcement policies are implemented.
Prediction 5: COVID-19 Protocols at the Southern Border Will Remain Absent
COVID-19 protocols at the southern border remained essentially absent at the southern border under the Biden administration. Hundreds of thousands of migrants are arriving at the border every month with very few (if any) protocols in place. There are no vaccination requirements, comprehensive COVID-19 testing, or quarantine requirements for those testing positive for the disease. In some cases, COVID-positive migrants have been released into the country.
Title 42—a public health order that allows for expedited removal of illegal aliens during disease outbreaks—is not being fully utilized as hundreds of thousands of individuals have been exempted from it.
There is little reason to believe that the administration will expand its use of Title 42 (even though it has adopted more rigorous protocols for those arriving lawfully). Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s COVID-19 response leader, has also downplayed the severity of the issue, publicly stating that “When you have 700,000 Americans dead and millions and millions and millions of Americans getting infected, you don’t want to look outside to the problem. The problem is within our own country.”
Based on past performance and his stubborn refusal to change course, it appears that when it comes to immigration policy President Biden will not be steering the ship in a better direction in 2022.