OPINION: No better: MPP bad policy under Trump, and it’s still bad under Biden

Joe Biden has spent almost half a century working at the highest levels of national governance, eight of them in the White House as vice president. So it seems odd that he’s having so much trouble dealing with one of the basic tenets of policy making: It’s much easier to find fault with the other guys than it is to find solutions when you’re in charge. As president, Biden has kept or resurrected many of Donald Trump’s policies that he so rightfully condemned.

Biden decried Trump’s use of public health law and the COVID-19 pandemic to repel migrants, including hundreds of thousands of refugees, on the grounds that they might be carrying diseases. Then he used the same justification to send thousands of Haitian nationals back to that country, even though many of them had lived in South America for years.

Now Biden, who seems no better prepared to address our immigration problems, is bringing back Trump’s globally criticized Migrant Protection Protocols that keeps asylum seekers in Mexico while their cases are reviewed in the United States. Under MPP, which the Trump administration began in 2019, migrants were rounded up at the international bridges and taken to immigration offices such as the one in Harlingen or makeshift tent facilities, where they would face immigration judges through remote feeds. In Mexico the migrants have lived in squalid tent communities with limited water and waste facilities and rampant crime. Officials and advocates say many migrants reported being robbed, raped or beaten. Many disappeared and many bodies have been found in the Rio Grande; it is unknown how many might have drowned trying to cross the river or if any were dumped in the river after being attacked. Suicides, including of children, have been reported.

Granted, MPP, which the administration says will be up and running by mid-November, is being brought back in response to a court order that asserted Biden should not have ended it when he took office in January.

The trouble was, he had nothing with which to replace it.

MPP was bad policy when the Trump administration implemented it, and it’s still bad policy now. The migrants came through Mexico, but they don’t want to be there. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Amador has invited them to seek legal residency there and become contributing members of that country’s economy, but most came here to escape corruption and drug gang-related crime; they don’t want to endure of the same in Mexico.

Joe Biden spent 36 years in the U.S. Senate and eight as vice president. Our broken immigration system has been a major issue the entire time. Biden also ran for president three times before he was elected, each time promising the American people that he had the answers. After all that service, all those campaigns and all those promises, he should have had some real ideas when he took office, including plans to improve our immigration policy.

We appreciate the attention that Biden has given to our border problem so far. We hope the return of MPP is short-lived, and that his administration can either make it efficient and reduce wait times, or find something better to replace it.