For an alternate viewpoint, see “Counterpoint: Congress Should Embrace the Vitality That Immigration Brings.”

“Raise your hand if you think it should be a civil offense rather than a crime to cross the border without documentation,” a moderator asked the Democratic presidential candidates at a 2019 primary debate.

When Joe Biden’s hand shot up, it was the first of many warning signs that Biden’s approach to immigration would be an unmitigated disaster.

Three years and 10 million illegal crossings later, President Biden’s failed leadership has allowed our southern border to spiral into a humanitarian, national security, and economic crisis of epic proportions.

Mexican drug cartels are making billions, funneling migrants worldwide into America. It’s a situation ripe for exploitation, with thousands of women and children subject to sex trafficking. One report estimated that 60 percent of the unaccompanied kids who cross the border are forced into child pornography, drug trafficking or other unspeakable horrors.

The chaos has helped these cartels flood every corner of the United States with deadly drugs like fentanyl, fueling a rise in overdoses. In 2023, Border Patrol agents intercepted enough lethal doses of fentanyl to kill every American. Customs and Border Protection officials have openly acknowledged that “large groups of migrants are creating a distraction for cartels to move contraband like fentanyl.”

These migrants aren’t coming just from Central and South America. Thousands of single adult males from Africa and Asia are flocking to our border. More than 170 individuals on the terrorist watch list were caught last year trying to enter the country. In one shocking case, an al-Shabaab jihadist was allowed into the country at the border for over a year.

In Pennsylvania, the effects of Biden’s open border are devastating. In 2022, we lost more than 5,000 residents to dangerous drugs. Cities like Philadelphia are diverting taxpayer dollars to handle the influx and cover healthcare, schooling, housing and food for undocumented immigrants.

How did we get here? This debacle lies at the feet of President Biden and Democratic senators like Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, who’ve supported his decisions every step of the way.

Just go back to Biden’s first day in office.

With a few strokes of his pen, the president issued executive orders halting the construction of the border wall, reinstating the failed catch-and-release policy, and ending Remain in Mexico.

When things began to spiral out of control, Biden refused to acknowledge the situation at the border was a crisis or change course. Biden now says he’s ready to take a tough stance, but nothing suggests this is more than a cynical election-year ploy.

The path Biden chose has been disastrous. Reversing Donald Trump’s border initiatives, which successfully brought illegal immigration to its lowest level in 45 years, sent a signal to the world that our country was wide open. By opening the floodgates and refusing to enforce our laws, the White House created a preventable tragedy.

What have Democrats done in response? Throughout his 18-year career in Washington, Casey has enabled these weak immigration policies that have made the American people less safe and hurt our economy.

Since Biden used the presidency’s powers to put us in this mess, he can use those same powers to fix it.

The White House must restore the Trump policies that worked. Biden should use every existing authority to finish constructing the border wall, direct Customs and Border Protection to enforce our laws, terminate the ill-conceived smartphone asylum app, stop catch and release, and engage in talks to restore Remain in Mexico.

Yes, Congress can and should do more. But the recently announced border deal, while well-intentioned, isn’t the answer. The legislation would codify a minimum baseload of illegal immigration — something no other industrialized nation in the world allows. It would also encourage more migrants to flood the border by empowering unelected bureaucrats to dole out work permits or immediately grant asylum claims with no oversight. Finally, there’s no guarantee Biden would enforce any new authorities granted to him, which is a significant flaw given his track record.

Biden should work with the House of Representatives in good faith on additional bills to supplement administrative action. But none of the actions I’ve proposed require new legislation — they require leadership.

The president says he’s serious about fixing the border. It’s time for him to back up those words with action.