- Thursday, February 29, 2024

If President Biden is talking about illegal immigration, it means he’s losing the argument.

In politics, you play on your home turf when you can, and the fact that Mr. Biden scheduled a trip to the border this week — on the same day as former President Donald Trump — means his handlers know he’s got a political problem he needs to address. The media know it, too, and many are trying to help the president out of this jam.

For three years, everyone in the Biden administration claimed that the border was as secure as ever. Reporters were expected to echo that message, and many did. For example, Axios came in with an “Axios Explains” piece last October, saying that the idea of an open border was a myth.

But then Democratic mayors of U.S. cities began to complain that they were being overrun by illegal aliens — “migrants” or “undocumented immigrants,” they were called — some of whom were sent there by Republican governors of other states. At that point, it became a political problem for Mr. Biden.

Most opinion polls show that illegal immigration is the top concern for voters, and surveys also repeatedly find that people trust Republicans, or more specifically Mr. Trump, to solve the problem. That’s why Mr. Biden desperately grabbed onto an awful Senate bill, which was alleged to address the border but was really more of a Ukraine funding bill that never stood a chance of passing because it was tilted in favor of illegal aliens.

When that measure failed, Mr. Biden naturally blamed House Republicans, even though they’re the only ones who have passed any immigration legislation that would actually accomplish something at the border.

Then last week, horrible news from the University of Georgia brought the dangers of a porous border into sharp focus. Laken Hope Riley, a 22-year-old nursing student, was killed while out for a jog in a wooded area of campus. Police have arrested a suspect in the killing: Jose Antonio Ibarra, a citizen of Venezuela who entered this country illegally in September 2022.

While covering the brutal and tragic crime, downplaying that Mr. Ibarra is in the country illegally is what would help Mr. Biden the most, so that’s what many of his allies in the media did.

The Associated Press ran a follow-up story on Ms. Riley’s murder that examined the “fears of solo female athletes” since she had been out for a run by herself. The implication was that it was the choice to go out alone for a run that caused her death, not the assault by her attacker.

The AP first identified Mr. Ibarra as an “Athens resident” rather than describing him as the illegal alien that he is. As part of its case against solitary exercise, the AP cited the 2018 murder of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, who was also out for a run when she was killed. Somehow, however, the AP neglected to point out that the man who took her life was also an illegal alien.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the largest newspaper in Georgia, referred to Mr. Ibarra as an “Athens man,” which is misleading since it implies that he is originally from that town. As a cherry on top of its coverage, the paper also ran a story about how other illegal immigrants “worry about backlash” after the killing and quoted one illegal alien as saying that the heightened attention is “not fair” to their community.

Wasn’t it “not fair” to Ms. Riley that she was killed?

After all of this, the paper referred to this group of nervous illegal aliens as “Georgia-based Venezuelans.” Think about that phrase for a moment before you continue reading.

Georgia-based Venezuelans. That’s a new one on me.

It’s obvious that the media are trying to smooth the sharp edges of a political problem Mr. Biden is facing. It apparently has not dawned on Mr. Biden or his friends in the press that he could restore the Trump-era immigration controls he removed, but that would be one way to begin to solve the problem he’s created.

But as of now, this is the reality: The border is effectively open, an innocent college student has paid for it with her life, and Mr. Biden and his allies desperately want to obfuscate and avoid responsibility.

If he had been doing his job of ensuring the nation’s security, the president wouldn’t have to blame someone else for this fiasco. But despite the media’s assistance, it’s clear that the American people know who caused the mess in the first place.

• Tim Murtaugh is a Washington Times columnist, founder and principal of Line Drive Public Affairs LLC, and co-host of the “Line Drive Podcast.”

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