Three media post mortems into President Joe Biden’s policy flip-flop-flip on refugees last week suggest that Biden’s staff tried to protect their boss from further migration-caused political damage, but were overruled by pro-migration advocates outside the building.
The Washington Post said April 20 that Biden made the critical decision to cap the 2021 inflow at 15,000, far below early suggestions of 62,500 refugees:
President Biden overruled his top foreign policy and national security aides, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, when he kept in place the Trump administration’s record low cap on the number of refugees admitted to the United States, according to three people familiar with the matter, a decision that was reversed after a public outcry.
… In the end, the president’s own misgivings fueled the decision more than anything else, the people said.
The Post‘s description suggests that Biden – not his top staff — is firmly in charge of migration-related decisions.
The New York Times initially echoed that claim in its April 20 report:
Inside the White House, the president had made his views clear, according to several people familiar with his objections to the idea of capping refugee admissions at 62,500. With crossings at the border rising, he did not intend to sign off on that number.
But the New York Times also suggested that Biden’s top officials played the critical role in setting the 15,000 cap:
But only weeks into Mr. Biden’s presidency, immigration and the border had already become major distractions from his efforts to defeat the coronavirus pandemic and to persuade Congress to invest trillions of dollars into the economy — issues championed by aides like Ron Klain, the White House chief of staff, as more central to his presidency.
members of Mr. Biden’s staff came up with a compromise they hoped would satisfy the president and resettlement agencies. They would keep the 15,000-refugee limit, but lift Trump-era restrictions that would allow more flights to resume. On Friday, White House officials informed reporters of the new policy.
Politico’s April 20 report portrayed Biden’s senior staffers as the chief drivers of the decision and Fox News as the chief problem:
Though the issues are separate, administration officials predicted raising the number of refugees, as Biden had promised to in February, would turbocharge the false claim on the right that the administration was “opening” its U.S. borders. They feared the ramifications, as they would come at a time when the White House is also asking Republicans to negotiate on a massive infrastructure package.
“You’re not going to throw gasoline on top of that fire,” said a person briefed on internal discussions, who described it as one of the factors considered. “Fox News would have had a field day with it. It’s the easiest talking point for every Sunday show.”
Politico’s report downplays Biden’s role and even suggested internal problems in Biden’s White House, saying: “The flip-flop was just the latest example of an otherwise buttoned down administration struggling to find its political footing in the immigration arena.”
When the 15,000 cap was announced by staffers — not by Biden — there was an immediate backlash from left-wing ideological and business pro-migration groups.
The backlash prompted the White House to say it would raise the 2021 inflow above 15,000 by mid-May.
None of the media outlets explained who at the White House decided to flip-flop: Was it Biden, or was it the top staff? Did Biden’s chief of staff suggest he import more refugees? Did lobbyists get to Biden and persuade him to overrule his staff?
The reports did not discuss the role — if any — played by Vice President Kamala Harris or by Alejandro Mayorkas, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
Instead, the Post and the Times both showcased the pro-refugee actions of Antony Blinken, who runs the Department of State.
The Times began its article by portraying Blinken as a hero to refugees and their D.C.-based advocates who are paid to deliver refugees to landlords and low-wage employers in Americans’ communities:
WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken was in the Oval Office, pleading with President Biden.
In the meeting, on March 3, Mr. Blinken implored the president to end Trump-era restrictions on immigration and to allow tens of thousands of desperate refugees fleeing war, poverty and natural disasters into the United States, according to several people familiar with the exchange.
But Mr. Biden, already under intense political pressure because of the surge of migrant children at the border with Mexico, was unmoved. The attitude of the president during the meeting, according to one person to whom the conversation was later described, was, essentially: Why are you bothering me with this?
Biden overruled Blinken’s pro-refugee plea, according to the Post:
President Biden overruled his top foreign policy and national security aides, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, when he kept in place the Trump administration’s record low cap on the number of refugees admitted to the United States, according to three people familiar with the matter …
The reports also downplayed the unpopularity of the refugee program and of the parallel inflow of asylum-claiming, job-seeking migrants at the southern border.
Politico downplayed the damaged poll numbers by suggesting that public worries about Biden’s border chaos are built on fakery:
Though the issues are separate, administration officials predicted raising the number of refugees, as Biden had promised to in February, would turbocharge the false claim on the right that the administration was “opening” its U.S. borders.
In fact, the refugee program is vital to the nation’s soul, Politico suggested in its final paragraph:
“There is no logistical or administrative reason we can’t protect both of these vulnerable populations,” added [Krish O’Mara ] Vignarajah, [president of Lutheran Immigration Refugee Services] who will join others advocates Wednesday for a meeting with White House officials on refugee resettlement. “I believe if we want to make good on President Biden’s promise to restore the soul of our nation, we must protect both.”
The Washington Post suggested that Biden’s political problem at the border is caused by bureaucratic snafus, not by public opposition:
The president was particularly frustrated by the government’s struggle to deal with unaccompanied minors at the border and became increasingly concerned about the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s response to the crisis, the people said.
In public comments on April 17, Biden also pushed the snafu excuse, even as he described the situation on the border as a “crisis”:
We’re going to increase the number [above 15,000]. The problem was that the refugee part was working on the crisis that ended up on the border with young people. We couldn’t do two things at once. But now we are going to increase the number.
The Post also suggested President Donald Trump is responsible for Biden’s polling drop, saying:
The [refugee] program has historically drawn bipartisan support for a system designed to welcome people from war-torn and troubled countries, but the politics became more polarized during Trump’s presidency.
The Times also tried to blame GOP machinations for the unpopularity of Biden’s pro-migration policies. It reported that White House officials worried that a bigger-than-15,000 inflow “would invite from Republicans new attacks of hypocrisy and open borders even as the president was calling for bipartisanship.”
The elite-backed program helps to push down wages, raise rents, crowd schools, subvert local democracy, fracture stable communities, shrivel investment in labor-saving machinery, and redirect corporate investment to the coastal states.
The programs are supported by low-wage employers, university leftists, landlords, retailers, and organizations that receive taxpayer dollars to settle the refugees.
Most refugees settle in coastal states, pushing up rents and capping wages for nearby Americans, such as those living in Ocasio-Cortez’s district. That geographic skew obscures much of the program’s immediate impact.
But people in heartland states also lose when refugees settle in coastal states. The arrival of foreign labor allows coastal investors to focus their job-creating investments near their coastal homes, not in the interior states such as West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky.
Refugees are put on a fast track to citizenship and can import additional family members via chain migration. The growing population of Democrat-voting Somalis in the United States is the most obvious impact of the nation’s expensive refugee program. If each migrant brings in just five relatives, then a 2021 goal of 30,000 refugees will eventually deliver 180,000 refugees.
The voter opposition to elite-backed economic migration coexists with support for legal immigrants and some sympathy for illegal migrants. But only a minority of Americans — mostly university-credentialed progressives — embrace the many skewed polls and articles pushing the 1950’s corporate “Nation of Immigrants” claim.
The deep public opposition to labor migration is built on the widespread recognition that migration moves money away from most Americans’ pocketbooks and families. It moves money from employees to employers, from families to investors, from young to old, from children to their parents, from homebuyers to real estate investors, from red states to blue states, and from the central states to the coastal states such as New York.
The border stampede is trampling Biden's immigration plans & there's little sign that he is in control.
We're left with rising inflows & dropping polls, plus divided deputies, political theatrics, migration zealots, skewed media, and influential donors.https://t.co/8NGoCUoMmF
— Neil Munro (@NeilMunroDC) March 30, 2021