Published September 21, 2021
The image of thousands of Haitian refugees huddling under a bridge in Del Rio, Tex., is forcing illegal immigration back into the national consciousness. That’s bad news for President Biden and his fellow Democrats, as this is a major political vulnerability for them.
Apprehensions on America’s southern border are at a 21-year high. More than 1 million people have been arrested for illegally entering the United States since March, and arrests have exceeded 150,000 in each of the past six months. Moreover, apprehensions have been highest in the summer months, even though arrests typically plummet during the hot season. This has never happened before in U.S. history.
One might think that Biden would try to stem the flow. After all, he ran as Uncle Joe from Scranton, the man who viscerally understands the needs of working-class Americans. So he should know that the working class needs tight labor markets to thrive. Without that, businesses will always keep wages down for the least skilled workers, much as they have done over most of the past two decades. The people flowing into the country have to work. That sudden influx cannot be good for native workers.
Henry Olsen is a Washington Post columnist and a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, studies and provides commentary on American politics. His work focuses on how America’s political order is being upended by populist challenges, from the left and the right. He also studies populism’s impact in other democracies in the developed world.