Immigration

Kinder, Gentler Family Separation?

Biden has yet to deliver on his promise that he'd be better than both Trump and Obama on immigration.

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Immediately after President Joe Biden took office, he instructed acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson to rescind former President Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" immigration policy, which separated thousands of migrant parents from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border. Buried in the news coverage of Biden's gesture was the fact that the updated guidance did not stop family separations. It just told prosecutors to use their discretion.

Wilkinson said federal prosecutors should not rule out charging border crossers with misdemeanors, which requires family separation when parents are taken into custody. But prosecutors should "take into account other individualized factors," he wrote, "including personal circumstances and criminal history, the seriousness of the offense, and the probable sentence or other consequences that would result from a conviction."

That certainly represents an improvement on Trump's approach, which required that federal prosecutors charge every single adult immigrant who crossed the border illegally. But while that policy was without nuance or mercy, it had already lost some of its teeth by summer 2018, thanks to a court injunction.

With Biden in charge, federal policy at the border remains a mess. "It's still difficult to ask for asylum at ports of entry," says Alex Nowrasteh, director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute's Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity. "You have to basically try to sneak into the country illegally and ask a Border Patrol agent. But by doing that, you commit a federal crime." What's more, Biden announced in April that he would maintain Trump's cap on refugee admissions despite pledging to raise it. Following a backlash, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced the administration would raise the cap after all.

Biden's softer approach to family separation is a reminder that the legal avenues for immigrating to the U.S. are inaccessible to many would-be immigrants, which encourages illegal entry. While separating adults from their children makes sense when the parents are charged with "murder, theft, terrorism charges, [and] other types of serious crimes," Nowrasteh says, misdemeanor border crossers generally don't deserve the same treatment.

It would be a false equivalence to say that all approaches to family separation are equally illiberal. "Obama did absolutely separate children," Nowrasteh says. "That's absolutely true, and Biden's going to do it too. He's probably already doing it in some cases that are unjust. But the difference was that the Trump administration did it systematically to basically everyone."

Still, a return to the status quo ante is only an improvement when compared to a policy like zero tolerance. Biden promised he'd be better on immigration—not just better than Trump but also better than his former boss. In many ways, he has yet to deliver on that promise.

NEXT: Brickbat: Take That

Immigration Biden Administration Migrants Children

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18 responses to “Kinder, Gentler Family Separation?

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  3. “That certainly represents an improvement on Trump’s approach, which required that federal prosecutors charge every single adult immigrant who crossed the border illegally.”

    Maybe Trump should have just put the kids in jail with their parents. No family separation that way.

  4. WTF?!

    Drumpf. Literally. Built. And. Ran. Concentration. Camps.

    Biden liberated and dismantled those monstrous facilities on day one of his Presidency. I mean, have you seen our favorite Congressperson AOC crying in front of a fence since Biden took over? Of course you haven’t. Because the policies she was protesting are no longer in effect.

    #LibertariansForBiden
    #OpenBorders
    #(EspeciallyDuringAPandemic)

    1. More proof Biden is better: We Koch / Reason libertarians demand open borders because we know importing cost-effective labor is good for billionaires like our benefactor Charles Koch. Well guess what? Billionaires are doing very well under Biden. A more favorable immigration policy must be at least partly responsible for that.

      #InDefenseOfBillionaires

  5. “should not rule out charging border crossers with misdemeanors —- an improvement on Trump’s approach, which required that federal prosecutors charge every single adult immigrant who crossed the border illegally. ”

    Binion here clearly shifts the concept of border crossers to immigrants who cross the border.

    Is this a mistake OR a purposeful misleading representation ?

    1. You do recall that Biden ran as a democrat, right?

  6. That certainly represents an improvement on Trump’s approach, which required that federal prosecutors charge every single adult immigrant who crossed the border illegally. But while that policy was without nuance or mercy, it had already lost some of its teeth by summer 2018, thanks to a court injunction.

    So you’re saying that “Trump’s policy” was not in fact Trump’s policy?

  7. Biden is just as bad as Trump. Quelle surprise. If you voted for either of those jokers under the idea that yours was not as bad as the other you have only yourself to blame.

    inb4:
    – b-but muh judges!
    – but trump spent comparatively less and/or but trump can’t control congress or spending
    – muh tax cuts!
    – “meEn TwEaTs”

    1. GFY. You missed that one

    2. Biden is clearly worse because now you’re getting more gun control, higher taxes, more regulations, democrats attempting to end the filibuster and pack the court, lose of jobs in the energy sector, failure to control border security, resumption attempts of the Iran nuclear deal, and of course let’s not forget the wonderful attempts at ideological indoctrination in schools with bullshit bias training.

      So yes, go fuck yourself asshole.

      1. It also appears that both Operation Choke Point and IRS’ ideological viewpoint basis auditing are back -the former never really went away, in truth. And, you forgot the massive budget, with spending on infrastructure that isn’t. Tariffs are the least of our concerns with massive inflation on the way and economic collapse possible. Trump wasn’t great, but it was clear that Biden was going to be worse from his ‘career.’

  8. “What’s more, Biden announced in April that he would maintain Trump’s cap on refugee admissions despite pledging to raise it. Following a backlash, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced the administration would raise the cap after all.”

    Rule of law, nah. Rule of man? Still nah. Rule of left wing media? Ding ding ding.

  9. Cry me a river man. Fill up the Rio Grande with tears.

    1. Considering the drought, every little bit helps.

  10. I agree that these children shouldn’t be separated from their parents. The best was for that to happen is for these families to remain in their home country.

  11. The current situation is cruel but we need to know the alternative. What would a more unrestricted policy look like? Would all these immigrants be self sufficient or would they be public charges? If even Biden is finding himself having to continue detaining illegal immigrants that suggests there aren’t great alternatives.

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