Although the U.S. has experienced two straight record-setting years of illegal alien apprehensions, the Biden Administration has refused to acknowledge this situation as a crisis. This two-year period corresponded with the 117th Congress, which was controlled by the president’s own political party. Now, with a new House majority in the 118th Congress, the Biden Administration has pivoted from denying the existence of a border crisis to blaming conservative policies for what is now taking place.
On January 5, 2023, President Biden unveiled his administration’s new border strategy. When doing so, he explained that on his first day in office, he had “sent Congress a comprehensive piece of legislation that would completely overhaul what has been a broken immigration system for a long time.” President Biden argued that this legislation would help the country by “cracking down on illegal immigration; strengthening legal immigration; and protecting DREAMers, those with temporary protected status, and farmworkers, who all are part of the fabric of our Nation.” However, he faulted conservatives for refusing to consider this legislation and said, “the failure to pass and fund this comprehensive plan has increased the challenges that we’re seeing at our southwest border.”
This bill, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Linda Sanchez (CA-38) as H.R. 1177 and in the Senate by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) as S. 348. Its main provisions include giving those in the U.S. “lawful prospective immigrant” status, which would provide work authorization and a Social Security Number. This status would also provide green cards to all Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients and those under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure. Furthermore, the legislation would require the State Department to advertise new rules welcoming illegal aliens deported during the Trump Administration back to the U.S. and would eliminate one-year filing deadlines for asylum applications. On the whole, this bill offers large-scale amnesty for illegal aliens and—unlike previous amnesty legislation—contains no meaningful enforcement provisions either at the border or for criminal aliens detained in American communities. Despite what the administration may try to suggest, amnesty does not equate to border security.
Even though problems at the border were in the process of materializing at the time, the Biden Administration submitted its original plan to Congress in 2021. The situation at that time was by no means a crisis. The Biden Administration inherited the most secure border of modern times, but it immediately rescinded all the policies that led to this success. As a result, illegal alien apprehensions and “gotaways” spiked to more than 200,000 per month, fentanyl seizures increased exponentially, and apprehensions of known-suspected terrorists amounted to seven times more than in the previous administration.
The U.S. Citizenship Act did not gain any traction in Congress, but the Left’s fallback legislation was H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021. This was a smaller amnesty package that similarly contained no law enforcement mechanisms. H.R. 6, which would have certainly worsened our Nation’s border crisis, passed in the House but hit a bottleneck in the Democrat-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee and was ultimately not brought to the floor.
Both H.R. 6 and H.R. 1177 demonstrated that the Biden Administration is not really interested in border security and that their only policy proposal regarding immigration is amnesty. Still, it is important for all Americans to understand the devastating effects these bills would have had on our Nation.