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Opinion
The Editors

Biden Should Rethink His Border Plan

Before easing immigration restrictions, the U.S. needs to fix the system’s current dysfunctions.

Is the U.S. ready for another wave? 

Is the U.S. ready for another wave? 

Photographer: Mario Tama/Getty Images

With an eye on the midterm elections, Republicans have highlighted a burgeoning crisis at the southern border to attack President Joe Biden’s handling of immigration. The criticism is largely warranted. Biden’s failure to implement a coherent border policy has led to a surge in illegal crossings and caused conservatives to amplify fears of a migrant “invasion.” It’s also making it harder to create the immigration system the country badly needs.

There are currently two main streams of entry into the US: legal and illegal. Each year, about 1 million people gain permanent residency through the legal system. Of that number, half already reside in the US on temporary work or student visas, while the rest come from outside the country. It’s also legal for migrants to present themselves at ports of entry and request asylum. But for many people without a legal pathway, attempting to cross the southern border remains the most viable option. Migrants who have entered the country illegally may still request asylum; historically, they — like other asylum-seekers — have been allowed to stay in the U.S. while their claims are being processed.