by Stefano Graziosi

The migration issue is back to haunt the Biden administration. According to the Customs and Border Protection, last March 221,303 illegal immigrants were intercepted at the southern border of the United States: this is 28% more than in March last year and a higher number than in July 2021, when - with 213,953 illegal immigrants - the highest number of arrivals in twenty years was reached. Numbers like those of last month have not been recorded since March 2000.

That is to say, the migration issue continues to prove to be a thorn in the side of the current American president. A president who is currently in a remarkably uncomfortable position, especially after that, at the beginning of April, he announced the imminent revocation of Title 42: a measure, put in place by Donald Trump in March 2020, which allows to accelerate repatriations due to the pandemic. A measure that has allowed nearly two million deportations since it went into effect. Republicans are on the warpath, arguing that such an announcement is bound to further increase arrivals.

The problem for the president lies in the fact that it is not only the Elephant that opposes the repeal. A Morning Consult poll found that 56% of Americans feel the same way as Republicans on this issue, while growing discontent is emerging within the Democratic Party itself. As many as five Senators from the Donkey Party (Kyrsten Sinema, Mark Kelly, Maggie Hassan, Jon Tester and Joe Manchin) have already made it known that they will support a Republican amendment to temporarily block the revocation of Title 42. It is also possible that, in the face of such pressure, the White House may decide to backtrack in the coming days. The point is that, if this were to happen, Biden would find himself hamstrung by the left wing of his own party, which has long blamed him for too little discontinuity with the immigration policies of his predecessor.

It should be noted that this situation, politically with no way out, was somewhat created by Biden. At the time of the 2020 election campaign he rode the migration issue instrumentally, attacking Trump very often for partisan reasons and raising hopes for an open-door line. Then, when he took office in the White House, the problems began. Migration flows to the U.S. border increased precisely because of the hopes Biden had raised on the campaign trail. The crisis did not take long to manifest itself, so much so that the president - already in March 2021 - urged migrants on television not to travel to the USA. A position reiterated in June by Kamala Harris in Guatemala: a Kamala Harris who, precisely because of this, was harshly criticized by the left wing of the Democratic Party.

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In all of this, the crux is also political. First of all, the migration crisis is likely to have negative impacts on the Donkey's performance ahead of next November's midterm elections. We should remember, incidentally, that the migration issue was at the center of the 2018 Midterm election campaign. A second problem can be seen for the same Kamala Harris who, in March 2021, had been assigned by Biden to manage the flows directed towards the southern border, working at the political-diplomatic level with the countries of Central America. A commitment that she was evidently unable to keep. For the White House, the immigration dossier risks, in short, to explode in an already chaotic situation (including the Ukrainian crisis and skyrocketing inflation). And, with the crossed vetoes that are registered within the Asinello, it remains to be seen that the president will be able to get out of this (umpteenth) political quagmire.

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Researcher of Centro Studi Machiavelli. Graduated in Political Philosophy (Catholic University of Milan) with a thesis on Leo Strauss. He deals with international politics collaborating with "La Verità" and "Panorama". His last book is Trump contro tutti. L'America (e l'Occidente) al bivio (2020), written with Daniele Scalea.