In the 71 days since Donald Trump has left the White House, he has left Americans rolling their eyes several times. In his first post-presidential speech, Trump claimed that he would “beat [Democrats] for a third time.” And about a week ago, a former advisor announced that Trump plans to make a big return to social media in a few months.
Trump’s most recent revelation — that he hopes to visit the United States-Mexico border in the coming weeks because the U.S. Border Patrol “wants him to” — is among his most bizarre. But without any true power, what national security changes can a former leader really bring about?
Hopefully, the answer to this question is “quite a lot.” In February 2021, border agents detained nearly 100,000 people for trying to cross illegally. This was the highest February total since 2006, the year in which Congress passed the Secure Fence Act to authorize the construction of 700 miles of border fencing. And since the spring is historically the busiest time for illegal crossings, the number of people seems poised to increase — especially as millions of Americans receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The conditions for the thousands of children in custody at the border — a huge focus of Trump-era Democrats — remain unclear. Last weekend, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted a video showing a woman who identified herself as a Biden Administration staffer psychically blocking him from filming in a detention facility. This breakdown in transparency seems to be impacting public perception of the border situation. An ABC poll released Sunday found that a majority of Americans (57 percent) disapproved of President Joe Biden’s handling of the border situation. 54 percent of those polled even called the situation a “crisis.”
The problems at the border have obviously escalated since Trump left office in January. But realistically, there is not much that can be done about it. A divided Congress hurts Biden’s chances at pushing through any meaningful immigration reform, not to mention that he faces harsh opposition from not only the political right (for aforementioned reasons), but the left as well. Many progressives are still railing against keeping “kids in cages” and the potential for Biden to enact legislation limiting asylum, which they view as inhumane to asylum seekers.
With no end to the looming crisis in sight, I call upon President Biden to beef up our military presence at the southern border until this exodus can be contained. Perhaps deploying some of the forces currently stationed in Washington, D.C. would be a good place to start. The Biden Administration’s decision to suspend construction on Trump’s border wall is fine, but as long as American citizens are suffering from the medical and economic effects of the pandemic, a strong deterrent to illegal entry must remain in place.
This is not to say that Biden bears complete responsibility for the border crisis. Despite Trump’s intense rhetoric and commitment to ending America’s border crisis, he ultimately left Biden a mixed bag — illegal crossings dropped overall under Trump, but increased each month from May to October 2020. Biden has taken that mixed bag and made a mess of it, but there is still time for the 46th president to uphold his constitutional oath and enforce the immigration laws of this nation. Let us hope he can do so.