How Biden Turned 'Sanctuary City' Democrats Into Ruthless Border Hawks

These Democratic leaders aren't feeling so hospitable anymore

May 19, 2023

No human being is illegal, Democratic politicians said. All migrants are welcome, they declared. Then Joe Biden became president, and border crossings spiked to record highs.

Now, many of those same Democrats are declaring they can't possibly accept any more migrants. In some cases, they're embracing the same Republican-favored responses they recently decried as racist and cruel.

New York governor Kathy Hochul

Hochul was narrowly elected last year as an outspoken supporter of New York's "sanctuary" policies to protect illegal immigrants from deportation or prosecution under federal law

But, with hundreds of migrants arriving in New York City each day following the end of Title 42 expulsions, Hochul warned over the weekend that New York has a migrant "crisis" and can't take any more.

New York City mayor Eric Adams

Before and after assuming office in 2022, Adams celebrated migrants' contributions to New York City and pledged to expand protections and benefits for illegal aliens.

More recently, though, Adams has said "there is no room in New York" for additional migrants and publicly blasted the Biden administration's handling of the border crisis. According to reports, the mayor is looking to start busing out migrants, a practice he condemned as racist when Republicans did it, and is considering drastic housing measures.

Washington, D.C., mayor Muriel Bowser

In 2018, Bowser reaffirmed Washington, D.C.'s "sanctuary city" status and denounced deportations of local illegal immigrants under then-president Donald Trump: "We must send a message loud and clear to the President and Congress that we are not a country of fear and cruelty."

But, when border-state Republican governors began busing migrants to the U.S. capital last year, Bowser asked the Pentagon to activate the National Guard. After her request was rejected, twice, she declared a public health emergency to "allow people to move on to their final destination."

Denver mayor Michael Hancock

In 2018, Hancock tweeted his "love and a clear message to immigrants that #Denver is an open and welcoming city."

But last week, the mayor defended Denver’s decision to cut services to certain migrants, saying that up to 400 people were arriving each day and that "our reserves are not bottomless."

Colorado governor Jared Polis

Polis said in 2019 that Trump's planned immigration raids, including in Denver, "make our communities less safe" and that "Colorado celebrates our immigrant communities." It was one of many times that Polis dinged the Trump administration on immigration.

In January, Polis said Colorado was helping migrants "complete their long and arduous journey" to "escape brutal oppression." But it turned out that his idea of helping to bus migrants to New York and Chicago, where, he claimed, they really wanted to be.

Former Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot

On her reelection campaign website, Lightfoot boasted that as mayor she ended "collaboration" with federal immigration authorities and gave illegal immigrants access to city benefits. In 2019, she pledged to protect "every Chicagoan" from Trump's "racist, anti-immigrant terror."

That, however, was before over 9,000 migrants arrived in Chicago since August. During her final weeks in office after losing reelection, Lightfoot said the city was "completely tapped out" and declared a state of emergency.

Vice President Kamala Harris

As a 2020 presidential candidate, Harris cited Trump's immigration policies as proof that he is "racist" and endorsed full government health care coverage for illegal immigrants.

Now that she's veep, though, Harris has broken with her progressive allies by acknowledging there is a border.

President Joe Biden

Biden campaigned against Trump’s "inhumane" immigration regime, saying the Republican didn't appreciate how "we're a nation of immigrants—and our diversity has always been our biggest strength." Just after taking office, he promised to undo the "moral failure" and "national shame" of Trump's policies.

Biden did roll back many of Trump's immigration policies. But as illegal immigration began to surge, Biden left other Trump restrictions in place, and last week, he implemented limitations on asylum seekers that are very similar to those that he condemned Trump for innovating.

Since Title 42 expired on Thursday, the border crisis has unexpectedly eased, in part because of stricter enforcement and tough talk from the Biden administration. But underlying conditions remained largely unchanged. According to Customs and Border Patrol numbers published Thursday by the Washington Times, the agency released nearly seven out of 10 migrants apprehended in the past week, a slightly higher rate than just before the end of Title 42.