The Biden-Trump Border Disaster (OPINION)

Mar 3, 2023
12:26 PM

President Joe Biden walks with U.S. Border Patrol agents along a stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso Texas, Sunday, January 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

HOUSTON — Following the unveiling of the White House’s latest border policy, there has been an uncanny focus on the murder trial of a guy hardly anyone knew about before the release of a recent Netflix documentary. For two days, cable news outlets ran nonstop coverage of the Alex Murdaugh trial and have not discussed in any detail the long-term implications of the Biden administration’s order that attempts to ban asylum through criminalization.

In addition to policies within the last year that expanded the use of expedited removals once Title 42 comes to an end, the administration officially imposed severe restrictions that essentially make seeking asylum a crime with punishments that include decade-long bans for individual migrants. Previous moves by the administration were laying the groundwork for its latest cruelty in an attempt to silence far-right disinformation—as highlighted here and here.

For Republicans, the strategy is focused on the lie that the border is wide open. For Democrats, it’s about proving the opposite. Meanwhile, the Biden administration is adding to the inhumanity of the previous administration’s policies by implementing procedures former President Donald Trump couldn’t. In fact, the current humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border was caused by bipartisan policy decisions in lieu of meaningful and much-needed reforms.

As the debate rages on amidst absurd disinformation, the truth about what’s happening to asylum seekers from the southern hemisphere is overlooked. Immigration is a broad topic that covers myriad issues involving migrants from all over the world. However, when it comes to cracking down on non-white migrants, U.S. policy is intentionally harsh and inhumane.

From green card backlogs and family separations to brutality at the border, it’s all purposefully enacted as a deterrent that doesn’t work. Instead, these policies are used by border agents as a rationale to mistreat non-white people seeking safety. Dehumanizing migrants, whether from Asia, Africa, or Latin America, is a strategy that justifies criminalizing and abusing people as they seek sanctuary—oftentimes from U.S. policies within their home countries.

The Biden administration clearly learned from the former president’s policy failures. The Trump-era transit ban was struck down by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The 2019 rule proposed by Trump cronies in the White House was found to violate the 1980 Refugee Act that specifically states all migrants have the right to apply for asylum once they reach the U.S.

While the Biden administration argues that its policy isn’t similar to Trump’s transit ban because of the use of the CBP One app, which asylum seekers are supposed to use to schedule appointments with border agents, it’s worth noting that the app is riddled with problems and only works when a good Wi-Fi signal is available. In a letter to the Department of Homeland Security, Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) urged the agency to stop using the app amid many concerns.

“This expanded use of the CBP One app raises troubling issues of inequitable access to —and impermissible limits on— asylum, and has been plagued by significant technical problems and privacy concerns,” said Markey. “DHS should shelve the CBP One app immediately. Rather than mandating (the) use of an app that is inaccessible to many migrants, and violates both their privacy and international law, DHS should instead implement a compassionate, lawful, and human rights-centered approach for those seeking asylum in the United States.”

Joe Biden’s Stephen Miller

Most U.S. citizens know of Stephen Miller from his stint as a senior adviser in the Trump administration. Miller, known for harboring white nationalist views, was influential in imposing asylum restrictions on non-white migrants.

Similarly, the Biden White House has Susan Rice and Jake Sullivan who are also known to have similar views to Miller about non-white immigrants.

Rice, the White House director of the Domestic Policy Council, is much more versed in how to implement policy. Known as one of D.C.’s high-profile power players, Rice was the former national security advisor to former President Barack Obama. Despite the current administration seemingly taking steps to project a return of respectability in U.S. politics, installing Rice at such a high level while she’s known for creating a toxic work environment is telling.

Rice is also known for her indifference to the plight of asylum seekers. While she may have a Haitian painting hanging in her office, she was quick to ensure that flights of asylum seekers to Haiti and Central America were full after she learned that they weren’t at capacity. In a series of emails that described how the U.S. policy of removing and sending migrants back to their home countries is overwhelming Guatemala’s healthcare system, Rice simply ignored the issue.


Another set of emails described how asylum seekers on expulsion flights in southern Mexico were at risk of being attacked by violent gangs. Despite the emails containing an image of a man who had been expelled to the area with several gun barrels in his mouth, they did not provoke any action by Rice’s office. A former White House official described it as a “fuck up,” according to The American Prospect.

As Rice and Sullivan fulfill Stephen Miller’s xenophobic and racist fantasies, migrants are now forced to try to obtain asylum in at least one pass-through country on their journey to the U.S. In addition to applying for asylum through an app that doesn’t work, CBP One is only in English and Spanish, leaving all non-English or non-Spanish-speaking migrants without options.

Essentially, the Biden administration’s policy all but ended the asylum process for most in the southern hemisphere while getting nothing in return from Republicans. Such a policy would seemingly be celebrated by the political right. However, to conservatives on Capitol Hill and beyond, the policy isn’t cruel enough.

In the aftermath of Obama’s and Trump’s policies, the current administration is piling on even more constraints as many children separated from their families under Trump have yet to be reunited with their families. While Miller sought to limit refugee admissions and force migrants to seek asylum in other countries not safe for them, the Biden administration is succeeding where Trump failed.

As major media does an about-face and ignores the cruelty of the Biden administration’s immigration policy, voters should remember the promises made by then-candidate Joe Biden during his 2020 presidential campaign. U.S. citizens should also remember when Biden told immigration advocates to “vote for Trump” when they questioned him about his history and their fears about policies like those now being implemented. When challenged about his prejudice, Biden’s supporters went on the attack—they still do.

Not challenging him or anyone else in power is precisely how people incrementally lose their civil liberties. Politicians who tout “law and order” continuously flout those two key tenets of American society across the continent.

Colonization continues at the hands of the U.S. government both at home and abroad. It’s only a matter of time before its exploitative nature comes for the rest of us.


Arturo Domínquez is a first-generation Cuban American, anti-racist, journalist, and the publisher of The Antagonist magazine. Twitter: @ExtremeArturo