President Joe Biden is making no qualms about former President Donald Trump’s policies being the root cause of issues that his administration is now scrambling to address.
More than two months into his presidency, at his first news conference since becoming president, Biden blamed Trump for a slew of issues, including a broken immigration system and the US’ current diplomatic woes.
Biden’s frequent invocation of Trump was noticeable perhaps because his press conference was the first time he spoke at length on a variety of issues his White House is working on, and his relative low-profile compared to Trump.
The press corps also wanted to talk about Trump. Biden was also asked about the possibility of running against Trump in 2024, Trump’s plan to pull the US out of Afghanistan and Georgia’s law placing new limits on voting — a direct result of Trump’s false claims about election fraud.
The President’s frequent mentions of Trump should come as no surprise.
Biden built up a presidential campaign pegged on reversing the Trump administration’s policies and countering what he saw as Trump’s political divisiveness. His 2020 campaign revolved around the idea that the “soul of the nation” was at stake in the election, and that he would seek to heal a country fractured by Trump’s presidency.
No policy area is perhaps as central to Trump’s image than his anti-immigration actions.
Biden largely blamed Trump for the current situation on the southern border, where an influx of unaccompanied minors are traveling into the US, despite some indications that unauthorized migrants are coming into the US because of the perception that the new administration will be more lenient.
“It happens every single, solitary year. There is a significant increase in the number of people coming to the border in the winter months of January, February, March. It happens every year,” Biden said. “By the way, does anybody suggest that there was a 31% increase under Trump because he was a nice guy? And he was doing good things at the border? That’s not the reason they’re coming.”
The President also blasted the Trump administration’s withdrawal of foreign aid funding to deal with the “root causes” of migration and blamed his predecessor for having “shut down the number of beds available” by not funding the Department of Health and Human Services “to get the children out of those Border Patrol facilities.”
Despite a recent spike in migrants that is putting the US on track to see the most individuals on the southern border in 20 years, Biden says he’s making no apologies for the way he’s handling the situation.
“First of all, all the (Trump) policies that were underway were not helping at all, did not slow up the amount of immigration, and as many people coming. And rolling back the policies of separating children from their mothers? I make no apology for that,” Biden told reporters.
“I make no apologies for ending programs that did not exist before Trump became president that have an incredibly negative impact on the law, international law, as well as on human dignity,” he added.
Trump kicked off his presidential campaign in 2015 by claiming that “when Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. … They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
He repeatedly used terms such as “killer,” “predator,” “animal” and “invasion” when referencing immigration issues in front of audiences.
And his administration was responsible for devising some of the most stringent and publicly divisive immigration policies America had adopted, including the so-called “zero tolerance” policy, which resulted in the separation of thousands of migrant families, including those with children.
Trump’s blame game
Biden’s blame game with Trump is in line with what other US presidents have done after taking office.
President Barack Obama blamed the George W. Bush administration for the financial crisis. And Going back to President Ronald Reagan, nearly every US president has blamed their predecessor for inheriting a poor economy.
That extends to Trump, too.
During his first news conference since taking office, Trump referred to the messes he inherited from President Barack Obama four times.
“To be honest, I inherited a mess. A mess. At home and abroad — a mess. Jobs are pouring out of the country. You see what’s going on with all of the companies leaving our country, going to Mexico and other places. Low pay, low wages,” Trump said in 2017. “Mass instability overseas, no matter where you look. The Middle East, a disaster. North Korea, we’ll take care of it, folks. We’re going to take care of it all. I just want to let you know. I inherited a mess.”
Trump went on to express his frustrations about the messes he inherited up until his final weeks in office, but touted his legacy on immigration as a “success story.”
“This is a real success story,” Trump told US Customs and Border Patrol agents during a speech in front of a section of the US-Mexico border wall in mid-January. “When I took office, we inherited a broken, dysfunctional, and open border. Everybody was pouring in at will. Working alongside the heroes in this great outdoor space, looking at our wall, we reformed our immigration system and achieved the most secure southern border in US history. It is at a level that it’s never been before.”