President Biden initially sought to reform our “broken” immigration system through legislative means. On his first day in office, he sent his U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 to Congress. It would establish numerous immigration benefits, including the largest legalization program in U.S. history, increased opportunities for lawful immigration, and humane treatment of migrants at the border.

When this didn’t work, he shifted his focus to administrative actions. This included bypassing the visa system by bringing migrants here through new legal pathways,catch and release at the border, and restricting interior enforcement. Apparently, by “broken,” he means that existing law doesn’t permit enough immigrants to come here and subjects the ones here unlawfully to the threat of deportation.

This has caused serious, presumably unanticipated consequences, such as a record-breaking increase in illegal border crossings and an immigration court backlog crisis that can’t be fixed.

Border security expert Todd Bensman claims that whether migrants are willing to pay big fees to be smuggled into the country depends on how likely it is that they will be able to get in and stay — and the likelihood of being able to do this has been extraordinarily high during the Biden presidency.

This is not likely to change if Biden is re-elected.

Catch and release and “lawful pathways” let them in without visas.

Border Patrol has encountered more than 5.6 million illegal border crossers on the Southwest border during the Biden presidency, which is three times the number of encounters it experienced during the Donald Trump presidency. The average number of encounters under Biden has been roughly 189,000 per month, compared to an average of 51,000 per month during the Trump administration.
Moreover, as of the end of March, Biden had released more than 2 million of them into the interior of the country.

These are not just asylum seekers. The Border Patrol apprehended 169 illegal crossers on the terrorism watchlist in fiscal 2023, compared to only 11 from fiscal 2017 through fiscal 2020.


Published originally on The Hill.

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an Executive Branch Immigration Law Expert for three years. He subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years. Follow him at: