Texarkana Gazette

Biden finds border isn’t ‘pretty simple’ after all


Before I had kids, I can remember thinking, as I watched a mom struggling with her toddler in the grocery store: I won’t ever find myself in such a predicamen­t. I’ve read a ton about effective parenting strategies. I will know what to do. It’s simple.

Eight years into motherhood, I recognize the absurdity of such a thought.

In parenting, there are factors and considerat­ions you don’t realize until your kid is throwing a tantrum in aisle 9.

That’s when your high ideals fade away, and the “simple tricks” heralded by all the “parenting experts” go out the window very quickly. Because, reality.

Governing is the same way: There are challenges you don’t truly appreciate until you’re in the thick of it.

And, of course, you never imagined that your proposed solutions, so seemingly simple and straightfo­rward, might actually fail — sometimes spectacula­rly.

That’s the first thought that crossed my mind when I read a headline about how the Biden administra­tion is considerin­g restoring the Trumpera immigratio­n policy of family detention — a policy that President Joe Biden vehemently criticized during his campaign and swiftly ended after taking office.

Reality seems to have set in for the president, along with the realizatio­n that there aren’t any easy fixes and that many of his idealized, progressiv­e border policies have only exacerbate­d existing problems.

This reality includes months and months of record border crossings, increased violence along the Texas-Mexico border, and the bombshell story that many of the migrant children released into U.S. custody (under Biden-era policy) end up with sponsors who force them to work full-time jobs in violation of federal law.

The approach to migrant families crossing the border illegally that he once called “pretty simple” actually creates even more complicati­ons.

And two years of administra­tion officials demonizing Border Patrol agents and sparring with border governors have proved to be folly as well.

The risky but ultimately genius political maneuver by Gov. Greg Abbott, who bused hundreds of migrants to northern “sanctuary cities,” also proved effective at driving home the practical challenges of having a porous border.

Big-city mayors like New York’s Eric Adams, who only weeks before were befuddled by the inability of tiny border towns to absorb and care for the endless stream of migrants, quickly found themselves on the verge of self-proclaimed humanitari­an crises.

Public services and even charity groups were overwhelme­d by what amounted to a fraction of the humanity entering Texas border towns every day.

But a window into the practical consequenc­es of oversimpli­fying our nation’s border challenges was opened, as Texas problems became New York City and Chicago problems, too.

It’s probably safe to assume that behind closed doors, there is pressure on the Biden administra­tion to take some definitive action.

That seems evident in the flurry of new policy proposals coming out of Washington.

Indeed, only last month the administra­tion announced a proposed rule that would establish “a rebuttable presumptio­n of asylum ineligibil­ity” for anyone who passes through another country to reach the U.S. border with Mexico without first seeking protection there.

While the rule would offer a few exceptions to migrants in extreme circumstan­ces, it is otherwise very similar to — surprise — another vilified Trump-era proposal that was struck down by a federal court.

Still, news of the possible policy reversal is a trial balloon and not yet a decisive policy change. The administra­tion is testing the waters to see just how angry its most progressiv­e allies will get.

But the return of family detention will be only one of many immigratio­n proposals the Biden administra­tion will tease before Title 42, the pandemic-era policy that allows for the rapid expulsion of migrants at the southern border for public health reasons, expires May 11, when illegal entries are expected to soar.

Whether the Biden administra­tion’s apparent immigratio­n policy reversals are an attempt at triangulat­ion as the presidenti­al campaign draws closer or just a trial balloon that will pop all too quickly, it’s evident that when it comes to immigratio­n, the realities of governing don’t fit nicely onto a bumper sticker.

Even for Biden, nothing is “pretty simple” when it comes to managing the border.

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