When Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas issued a public notice on Wednesday, Oct. 4, calling for a border wall to be built along part of the US-Mexico line, it shocked those on the political left and right. That’s pretty difficult to do. But less than a handful of Republican governors accomplished the seemingly impossible through the power of an idea turned into action. It was this simple idea that caused a sea change in the Biden administration’s immigration policy. Here’s how they did it.
Lo these many years of the Biden era, Mayorkas, the president, and many others repeated the mantra often that the border is secure. This imperative belied what Americans were witnessing daily on their televisions screens as thousands upon thousands of immigrants streamed into the country – primarily unhindered – at the US-Mexican border.
Still, something on television isn’t the same as something in your backyard.
That’s when Republican governors in Texas, Arizona, and Florida decided to bring the immigration crisis to the doorstep of so-called “sanctuary cities” nationwide. The power of this idea – to transport hundreds of illegal aliens to New York, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Chicago, Denver, and other blue urban centers rapidly turned from “Welcome to our city” to “What the heck are we going to do with all these people?”
Soon, Democrats began to call on their guy in the White House to do something. New York City Mayor Eric Adams was perhaps the loudest and most boisterous about seeking federal help. But when his cries were met with crickets, intra-party hand wringing began. Some called it a political stunt, but the governors continued to share the wealth of humanity from coast to coast and kept on transporting God-knows-who to city after city. It was unapologetic and unrelenting, but the point was made.
No Border Wall Under Biden
On Jan 20, 2021 – inauguration day – the newly sworn-in president issued a proclamation: “… building a massive wall that spans the entire southern border is not a serious policy solution. It is a waste of money that diverts attention from genuine threats to our homeland security” he wrote. “It shall be the policy of my Administration that no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall.”
Two years and anywhere from four to six million (depending on the source) migrants later, that border wall doesn’t look so bad. Indeed, when high-minded ideals turn from theory into personal experience, something happens. And what transpired is that Secretary Mayorkas did an about-face regarding the border wall. He wrote: “There is presently an acute and immediate need to construct physical barriers and roads in the vicinity of the border of the United States in order to prevent unlawful entries into the United States …”
So, how did this change of heart happen? Perhaps it was reality seeping into the political class consciousness when a mass of humanity was dropped on their doorsteps – with no remedy. Polls began to reveal that Americans weren’t happy with the situation. They felt confused and vulnerable to a group of people living on the streets of their cities with nowhere to go and nothing to do.
Those polls laid the blame on Joe Biden.
Suddenly, with the stroke of a pen, 26 federal laws were waived, and the DHS secretary called for building a part of the border wall. Not the whole thing, mind you. That reality will have to come later. But for now, a piece of it will have to do.
At the White House, Mr. Biden couldn’t bring himself to say his policy of not building the border wall was a grievous error. “The money was appropriated for the border wall,” Biden said. “I can’t stop that,” ABC News reported. When asked whether he believes border walls work, the president answered glibly, “No.”
But millions of Americans now do. And that is what happens when a good idea is turned into action and theory becomes personal experience.