When images of Border Patrol agents on horseback corralling Haitian migrants filled the airwaves in September, immigrant advocates were shocked to see cruelty that rivaled anything they'd denounced under former President Trump, The Hill reports. The reckoning on immigration enforcement that President Biden's allies in immigration advocacy expected didn’t happen. A top-level push to send immigration to the back burner in favor of other policy issues did. The arrival and subsequent expulsion of about 15,000 Haitians to Del Rio, Tx., and its aftermath cemented advocates' fears that Biden's early promises of a humanitarian approach to immigration had devolved into a tactical day-to-day management of a political liability.
Biden has signed nearly 300 executive actions on immigration, many of them reversing Trump policies, and moved away from an immigration enforcement agenda where any undocumented person was considered a priority for removal. Still, the administration has placed emphasis on touting economic and social policies, not immigration, in talking points distributed to congressional offices by the White House for Biden's first anniversary as president. Two policies are central to the rift between the administration and advocates: Title 42, which has been used to expedite deportations because of the pandemic, and the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as “Remain in Mexico.” Administration officials had signaled they would wind down Title 42, but that initiative lost steam with the emergence of the Delta variant and nonstop press coverage of Del Rio and monthly border apprehension numbers.