President Joe Biden is getting high marks for his overall performance, but if there is one issue that is dogging him, it is the crisis at the border. He even refuses to call it a crisis. Indeed, neither he nor his border-in-chief vice president has shown any interest in visiting the border.
Two new surveys spell disaster for the president on this subject. The Pew Research Center poll found that almost 7 in 10 Americans say Biden is doing a bad job dealing with the increasing number of migrants who are crashing our border. Most want more staffing and resources made available to handle the throngs of people, often unaccompanied children, who are seeking asylum. The majority also favor improving the safety and sanitary conditions facing these people.
The public knows that the situation is worse now than before. In fact, over the past year there has been a 20% increase in the share of Americans who say illegal immigration is a "very big" national problem.
A poll by tippinsights (TIPP), commissioned by the National Sheriffs' Association, found that 55% of Americans think the border crisis is making matters worse for migrant women, many of whom are forced into indentured servitude and prostitution. Almost 6 in 10 say that the situation is increasing preventable migrant deaths. Half believe the southern border crisis is contributing to the spread of COVID.
Since Biden took office, he has issued almost 100 executive orders on immigration, approximately half of which reversed initiatives taken by the Trump administration. According to Rep. Scott Franklin, "What's happening on our border is unprecedented. We are on track for more illegal border crossings in 2021 than any time in the past 15 years—perhaps ever."
Biden is not only out-of-step with the public; he is at odds with the bishops as well.
The bishops along the border of the United States and northern Mexico released a joint statement last month saying, "Undoubtedly, nations have the right to maintain their borders. This is vital to their sovereignty and self-determination. At the same time, there is a shared responsibility of all nations to preserve human life and provide for safe, orderly, and humane immigration, including the right to asylum."
The Pew survey suggests that the public and these bishops are pretty much on the same page. We need to protect our borders and improve conditions for migrants. It is Biden who is out of sync.
A Lexis-Nexis search of Donald Trump and "we must protect our borders" turned up 884 instances where his name appeared with these words in a news story. A search of Joe Biden on this measure turned up one (that was over a year ago, and it was conditional in nature).
We need to know why. Why is there such reluctance on the part of President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to speak forthrightly about this issue? Why do they seemingly want to have more illegal aliens in our country? Moreover, Harris needs to stop with talk about "root causes." It is a dodge: If we treated every problem this way, it would be a prescription for paralysis.
At the very least, Harris needs to speak directly to those who are suffering, as well as to border patrol agents who are burdened by current policies. That, however, cannot be done from Washington, D.C.
Bill Donohue is president and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the nation's largest Catholic civil rights organization. He was awarded his Ph.D. in sociology from New York University and is the author of eight books and many articles.