When a president comes to power, it is very common to observe how political adversaries closely monitor campaign promises, since unfulfilled objectives are usually a very strong political weapon. In this aspect, President Joe Biden is currently at a crossroads with the border wall.
Biden’s history with the wall goes back a long way. In his time as a senator in 2006, he voted to build some 700 miles of wall; during the Obama administration (of which Biden was a part), another 100 miles were also built. But, with Trump’s arrival on the political scene, the Democrat became a staunch critic of the border wall like many Democrats.
One of the several promises Biden made during his campaign was precisely to prohibit the construction of the border wall. And he delivered: one of his first orders as president was to stop the construction of the wall on the border with Mexico.
In fact, the Biden-Harris administration is facing an investigation, as the aforementioned order could be illegal, since the president would be interfering with the powers of Congress by stopping the construction.
Biden may renege on his promise to halt wall construction
But the halt to the construction of the border wall approved by Trump, apparently, will not be total. As The Washington Times revealed, “Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told department employees he may restart border wall construction to plug what he called ‘gaps’ in the current barrier.”
The conservative newspaper claims it had access to some session notes from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In that summary, the Times found what Mayorkas told ICE employees.
According to The Washington Times, Mayorkas pointed out that those “particular projects” to rehabilitate the wall construction are “gaps, gates, and areas where the wall has been completed but the technology has not been implemented.”
If Mayorkas’ remarks at the meeting come true, the Biden administration would be reneging on its promise to halt construction of the wall. This would not be the only immigration policy of the Trump administration that the Democrat’s administration revived. In fact, there are already several.
Shift towards Trump’s immigration policy
While Biden promised he would disarm much of Trump’s immigration policies -which he did- his own promises are quickly expiring.
One of the policies Biden promised and succeeded in reversing was the criticized agreement to remain in “a safe third country” while migrants apply for asylum in the United States. This agreement was implemented in Mexico and was to be implemented in other Central American countries.
But Democrats criticized the resolution arguing it wouldn’t be safe for migrants to stay in a country like Mexico or other countries in the region because security levels are not as high as in the US. However, in late March, President Biden himself suggested he was working to reinstate the policy.
Pressure on Lopez Obrador’s Government
Another policy implemented by Trump and which Biden hopes to continue applying, is the pressure against the Mexican government to control the massive migratory flow.
According to The New York Times, Mexican officials and informed sources revealed that the White House is maintaining Trump’s policy “relying on Mexico to contain a wave of people making their way to the United States.”
The Times said that Biden -like Trump- asked Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) if more work could be done to help solve the problem of the migratory wave that caused the outbreak of a crisis at the southern border.
Trump, during his administration, threatened high tariffs on Mexico to help strengthen the U.S. immigration system by collaborating in controlling the flow of migrants.
Despite the rhetoric and campaign promises, the Democratic administration seems to be leaning towards the recovery of Trump’s immigration policies that were heavily criticized by the mainstream media.
The open or semi-open border policies of the Democratic administration, the speech of the Biden-Harris duo inviting migrants to come to the United Staes and the reversals of Trumpist immigration policies, generated a crisis at the border with Mexico.
Now Biden is at a complex crossroads: to recover Trump’s policies that worked at the time, leaving behind his campaign promises that may annoy his allies and be taken advantage of by his adversaries; or to continue with his open borders policy, despite conservative criticism. Neither leaves an easy way forward for the president.