Discover more from The Wayward Rabbler
A Big, Biden-Ful Wall
Has Sleepy Joe Woken Up to the Border Crisis?
“People such as these leave their own lands…driven out by necessity, and this necessity arises either from famine or from a war and the oppression they have experienced in their own county, which has compelled them to seek new homelands…Such peoples as these, are therefore, extremely formidable, since they are driven by extreme necessity, and if they do not encounter good armies, they will never be stopped.”
- Machiavelli [Discourses, II.8]
The Wayward Rabbler is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Note: I must give credit for the title to my Twitter friend Kyochi Myogo
On November 5th the Department of Homeland Security posted an announcement on the Federal Register website signed in the name of Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas stating that, in a stunning reversal, the Biden Administration would be waiving 26 laws to continue building a wall across the Southern Border. The next day, the same Mayorkas spoke, ensuring the public that does not reflect a change in administration policy on wall building, and that the text of the document, such as, “in order to ensure the expeditious construction of barriers and roads in the vicinity of the international land border,” “I must use my authority under section 102 of IIRIRA to install additional physical barriers,” and “There is presently an acute and immediate need to construct physical barriers,” was taken “out of context.” He is careful to emphasize that the notice does not reflect “a change in policy” and that the administration has said from day one that “a border wall is not the solution.” The Biden Administration’s story is that they are obligated to use funds allocated in 2019 for wall construction, and have tried every method to get out of it. That doesn’t explain waiving all of the regulations, which could have been easily use to prevent construction. Whatever is going on, the Biden Administration launched a generated some unwanted media attention, as everyone took the notice to mean what it said. This all comes in the midst of the country facing an unprecedented crisis at the border- migrants in far greater numbers than any country could handle- while having broken politics unable to face major challenges. Meanwhile, there is an election coming up which looks grim for Biden and the Democrats, while the border situation is enraging much of the public to the point of near insanity. All we heard about how secure borders make the Statue of Liberty cry notwithstanding, it is clear that the Biden Administration will have to do something about this. A year after Ron DeSantis pulled the successful political stunt of sending migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, many migrants have moved in large numbers to areas far away from the border, causing Democrats like Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and New York City Mayor Eric Adams to demand Biden take strong action on the border crisis. Pritzker is correct that the situation is “untenable,” to say the least. Will Biden manage to change course and save his already lackluster administration, or will he drown under the weight of this genuine crisis which is as if tailor made to help the arch-immigration restrictionist Donald Trump?
The lax border policies of the Biden Administration were never based on any rational principle. To the extent that he believes in anything, back when Joe Biden was still relatively coherent he was always a “Law & Order Democrat” who broadly supported border security. Joe Biden sponsored the 1994 “Crime Bill” which in many ways created the architecture for modern border enforcement. He also supported building 700 miles of fencing in 2006 and campaigned on this when he ran for President in 2008, though he did say his bigger concern was drugs, not immigration, and also emphasized that it was but one part addressing a bigger problem. However, Joe Biden is also in a position of having to pander to a far left and liberal elite that went crazy in 2020, most of all against all forms of non-political law enforcement. Perhaps more than anything, the Biden Administration was taken in by the need to do the opposite of the last guy, especially given all of the overheated rhetoric against immigration restrictions.
We can be sure that Joe Biden is too elderly to genuinely change his opinions, especially given that he thinks it is 1993, but he was always one to blow with the wind of liberal elite opinion, and his administration is controlled by such people. Perhaps more important than the dominant political trends of his party, is that after spending so long portraying Trump as the Great Satan, it was necessary for a Democrat President to do the opposite of what Trump did. This is a common phenomenon, with Montesquieu having written, “What good princes do from virtue, bad ones can do from a desire to run counter to the conduct of their predecessor. And to this spirit of contrariety we owe many good regulations, and many bad ones as well” [Considerations…On the Romans, XV.] Despite living in a dangerous world with rapid population growth in impoverished regions, it was decided that border security couldn’t be a priority out of sheer “Trump Derangement Syndrome” and the need to appease a small activist base.
It should be noted that aspects of Trump’s border policy did seem gratuitously cruel, and it is understandable that some who generally believe in border security would want to handle things in a more measured and sympathetic fashion. The thing about this is that rhetoric is important in politics, especially international politics. Sometimes it even creates its own reality. People are not making the decision to travel to the United States lightly. These are people from poor countries, in some instances traveling thousands of miles over a mountain pass, through the jungle, and through the desert, with only what they can carry, at constant risk of victimization from criminals, to hope an “honest” person actually smuggles them across the border. Others spend their life savings at extremely low wages to fly to Mexico or Central America from places like Africa and Pakistan. Many are single men- always the group which most commonly immigrates looking for work. Others are families and have the stress of trying to care for their children. The point is, if they won’t be let to stay, it is of benefit to everyone to scare them out of starting the journey in the first place, so they don’t spend their life savings only to spend months in detention and then be deported. It also needs to be noted that this whole process empowers those cartels you always hear about, who don’t care what ultimately happens to the people they smuggle. Of course, many are also allowed to stay for various reasons, or remain undetected, but the messaging that the risk isn’t worth it needs to get out around the world. Right now New York City Mayor Eric Adams is on a bizarre vacation where he is touring key Latin American countries asking that they don’t come here because New York is full up.
Upon taking office, Biden immediately sent out a different message than Trump. An NPR article from January 22nd, 2021 titled “Asylum-Seekers Hope Biden's Pledge To Welcome Immigrants Includes Them” makes for interesting reading a couple of years later. It begins with the line, “President Biden is promising kinder, more welcoming immigration policies — and raising hopes for asylum-seekers throughout the hemisphere.” This messaging was amplified throughout Spanish language media and the world. But as the article says, all of the people on the border who actually have to deal with the migrants were worried about being overwhelmed with more than they could process without a coherent plan from the federal government. This, of course, is exactly what happened. Initially, the liberals throughout the country just accused the people near the border of being racist and uncompassionate because they were not the ones who had to find a way to process and care for all of these people. In August of 2023, over 230,000 migrants were “encountered” at the US border, with of course an unknown amount having snuck through unnoticed. New York City says it is “at capacity” having received 120,000 migrants over the course of a year. New York City has around 8.5 million residents. On the border, the El Paso region Border Patrol encounters around 2,000 migrants a day, or 730,000 a year, in a metropolitan region with around 870,000 people. This is just those who “present” themselves to the Border Patrol. It’s obvious this would be nearly impossible to deal with in the best circumstances, and all the worse when there hasn’t been a coherent policy and there is a perpetual shortage of resources.
Concern about the border has been growing throughout all of American society. Illegal immigration is one of those things that the public as a whole doesn’t like, even if they can’t agree on what would be appropriate border and immigration policies. As I wrote for The Libertarian Institute in August, on the Republican side the border situation is driving people so crazy that they want to institute a “shoot on sight” policy, and they pretend that is what other countries would do. Still, one can’t blame people for being shocked by the imagery. Here is just one recent news report about Mexican freight trains stopping service because they were swamped with migrants:
Any normal person who looks at this can see that Pritzker was correct to call it “untenable.” In another video, Border Patrol agents were seen for some reason cutting barbed wire to let migrants through. The thing is, even if these people all dissipated into our large country it would cause a lot of problems as it is too many to integrate. However, for the most part, they surrender or are caught. We are then obligated to see to their well-being to certain standards and process their cases and attempt to monitor them upon release. Generally they are legally prohibited from working, though recently Biden allowed work permits for an enormous number of Venezuelans, only to follow it with resuming direct deportation flights for Venezuelans. It’s fair to say the Biden Administration doesn’t have a real immigration policy and just reactively goes from one thing to the next.
It was into all of this that we were briefly led to believe that the Biden Administration had changed its mind about building a wall, something the media was notably calm about, followed by sympathy for his difficult position:
The Biden Administration had even auctioned off wall materials just weeks before, which is strange if they were obligated to spend the money allocated to the wall; I suppose buying new materials allows you to build less wall for the same amount of money if he is being forced to spend it. As the story circulated, Biden took the most flack from the Republican immigration restrictionists pointing out what seemed to be vast hypocrisy:
He did also get opposition from the open borders caucus of his own party, though there was something different about it from the Trump era. Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez expressed opposition, but in reasonable and measured terms. In an October 4th article from Politico, Representative Henry Cueller said, “A border wall is a 14th century solution to a 21st century problem. It will not bolster border security in Starr County,” a statement he made shortly after being carjacked, which apparently did not create in him a general fear of lawlessness. Biden addressed the situation on Thursday the 5th, in relatively coherent terms,
“The money was appropriated for the border wall. I tried to get them to reappropriate, to redirect that money. They didn't. They wouldn't. In the meantime, there's nothing under the law other than they have to use the money for what it was appropriated for. I can't stop that.”
He went on to clarify that he does not think walls work, which is funny being as I myself live in a house and the walls seem to broadly fulfill the function in question, currently having a 100% rate of preventing unwanted humans from walking through them. While the Biden Administration’s story about having to fulfill Congress’s spending allocation is plausible, there are two major problems with the argument as it has been presented. The first is that Mayorkas clearly explained why the work needed to be done with specific descriptions of where the wall needed to be placed. The second is that in a country where California spends 15 years and untold wealth trying to start a high speed rail project that never breaks ground, it is obviously possible to drag out complying with over 20 regulations for a number of years instead of waiving them. We can only assume the Biden Administration does want to build this wall to do something about the immigration crisis that is causing them grave political harm, but just doesn’t want to say it. An August poll showed approval of his immigration policy at 31%, a devastating number for something becoming ever more of a public concern and problem. Regardless, they were insistent on making us not believe the plain text we had read:
As I said in the introduction, it is absolutely not being taken out of context. That their policy is the same but their hand has been forced is fine, but it is beyond dispute that the document in question explains why a wall is necessary and where one is to be built.
Still, some criticisms of the wall are valid. It certainly won’t stop everyone, though having a criminal justice system doesn’t stop all murders either but you still try. Statesmanship is always an art of balance and doing what you can to improve a situation without crashing a country in the maniacal pursuit of a single goal, such as was done with covid. The fact is in this situation one has to try to staunch the bleeding before getting to any “root causes,” and one way or another, things cannot go on like this. I must emphasize once again, the reaction this is provoking is terrifying, so something has to be done just so that increasingly extreme measures don’t gain majority support. There are also simply too many people in the world to let them all in, especially given that the same people who want to take in every poor person who shows up usually hate free markets and want it to be very difficult to build housing. It’s the “San Francisco as sanctuary city” phenomenon writ large: they would let them in in such numbers to sink the proverbial ship with no plan to house or employ them and then leave them living in streets filled with shit and needles, at least once they run out of government-provided luxury hotels. It’s also a fair criticism that the United States caused some of the problems these people are fleeing, most specifically with the sanctions against Venezuela and wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan, or even from countries in Central America where our demand for drugs has destabilized their societies. At the same time, many of them are from countries where the US has no meaningful responsibility for the conditions, such as the 8,500 migrants from the West African nation of Mauritania picked up at the border in just a few months earlier this year. We should certainly aspire to a foreign policy which stops destabilizing already troubled countries, and it is definitely possible to implement policies which encourage mutually beneficial economic growth in poor regions, but we will drown if we can’t stop the flood. I don’t like the idea of living in a country with a border wall, most of all because I want to be able to easily escape from the assholes who rule us, but we must stop the deluge at the border and send a clear message to not come here: there simply isn’t another choice. To the extent he is able to understand things, Joe Biden knows this, whether or not anyone lets him do anything about it.
For the time being, it doesn’t appear that the government will be constructing more than a few strips of wall, what they would tell you is the minimum legally required amount. It also doesn’t look like they have any real plans to deal with the many things wrong with our immigration system. Of course, Congress coming together and passing any sort of comprehensive plan is off the table. This issue is only going to grow as we move towards the election, and a segment of the electorate will surely be going so crazy that it makes Trump look moderate in comparison. Perhaps it is our chickens coming home to roost. However, instead of accepting the loss of our country due to decades of bad policies, the thing to do is to fix those we can of the problems which are encouraging the migration wave, while acting like any normal country throughout history and controlling the physical territory which makes up our state. The America-hating open-borders extremists often like to use the history of European immigration taking this country from the natives to say it is hypocritical to have border controls, but to any rational person it’s a perfect argument for why border controls are so important: we certainly don’t want that to happen to us.
Thank you for reading! The Wayward Rabbler is written by Brad Pearce. If you enjoyed this content please subscribe and share. My main articles will always be free but paid subscriptions help me a huge amount [payment in metal border wall slats preferred.] I have a tip jar at Ko-Fi where generous patrons can donate in $5 increments. Join my Telegram channel The Wayward Rabbler. My Facebook page is The Wayward Rabbler. You can see my shitposting and serious commentary on Twitter @WaywardRabbler.