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EDITORIAL: The president’s desperate border maneuver

President Joe Biden is getting killed in the polls over his open-border immigration policy. Now, with an election nearing, he’s desperate to look like he’s doing something about a problem of his own making. The cynicism is palpable.

Mr. Biden entered the Oval Office and immediately appeased the radical left wing of his party by making clear that his administration had no interest in enforcing U.S. immigration law. Migrants responded accordingly. Illegal crossings soared, with an estimated 8 million people pouring over the southern border during Mr. Biden’s tenure, including an annual all-time high of 2.2 million in 2022, The Washington Post reports.

Compare that to Donald Trump’s last year in office (2020), when illegal crossings were around 400,000, according to the paper.

As the border grew more chaotic, the White House steadfastly denied there was any problem at all. Then Republican Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas — on the front lines — began sending some illegal migrants who had crashed their states to so-called “sanctuary cities” governed by Democrats. Within months, the progressive mayors of New York City, Chicago and other cities had tapped out and were begging for a reprieve, as the cost of dealing with the influx became intolerable.

While congressional Democrats stonewalled Republican efforts to reimpose order, Mr. Biden — finally admitting that all was not well — insisted that he was powerless to address the fiasco unilaterally. Never mind that he had largely created the mess through executive order in the first place. This charade culminated last month in an effort to blame the GOP for the porous border by forcing a Senate vote on a package of reforms that had previously failed.

Polls show the voters aren’t buying. An Associated Press/NORC survey in April found that 70 percent of Americans disapproved of the president’s handling of immigration.

Mr. Biden now responds, in essence, by admitting that much of what he said previously on immigration is false. On Tuesday, the president issued an executive order ending certain asylum claims at the U.S.-Mexican border until crossings drop significantly. Apparently there is a crisis at the border, and Mr. Biden does have the authority to act. Who knew?

“It’s a little late, isn’t it Mr. President?” said Sen. John Kennedy, Republican from Louisiana. “You can’t make this cat walk backward … Look, you can cut the hypocrisy with a knife.”

While the order is certainly an improvement over the status quo, it’s a Band-Aid designed to boost Mr. Biden’s political fortunes. Does it evaporate if he wins a second term and becomes a lame duck? Mr. Biden has proven himself unworthy of Americans’ trust on the border — or on anything else, for that matter.

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