The Biden administration’s botched border policies are creating a “zero-sum dilemma” that’s pitting US babies against migrant infants in detention during the nationwide formula shortage, a top immigration expert told The Post on Friday.
Photos of dozens of boxes of baby formula at a migrant processing facility near the US-Mexico border sparked outrage Thursday as some Republican lawmakers accused the government of “stockpiling” the product for illegal immigrants.
Even though American parents are struggling to get their hands on formula for their babies, the administration is also legally obligated to feed and care for those it has amassed in its custody at the border, including migrant infants, experts noted.
” ‘Zero-sum’ really is the best way to describe this,” said Andrew “Art” Arthur, a fellow on law and policy at the Center for Immigration Studies, to The Post.
“It’s a zero-sum dilemma pitting the needs of infants and their parents in [Department of Homeland Security] custody at the border against the needs of infants and their parents in the United States.”
Arthur said the failure to stop the flow of immigrants across the border is contributing to the baby-formula crisis — and it’s only expected to worsen when the Biden administration lifts Title 42, a Trump-era health regulation put in place that allowed migrants to be turned away at the US border to stem the spread of COVID-19.
“DHS is having to store up massive quantities of baby formula to provide for the infants who are currently in CBP custody and in anticipation of a massive wave of new illegal migrants who will surge to the border once CDC orders mandating the expulsion of illegal migrants,” Arthur said.
“The Biden administration’s failure to adopt policies to deter illegal migrants — and in particular, migrant family units, or FMUs — is the reason for both the surge in drugs and the fact that DHS is having to buy formula while the supply of it dwindles in the United States.”
Florida GOP Rep. Kat Cammack on Thursday urged Americans to pressure the administration to extend Title 42 given the influx of migrants, including children, who are expected to end up in custody when it expires.
“Call your Democratic members of Congress and tell them that you want them to put pressure on the administration to keep Title 42 in place, to take the baby formula that they have basically siphoned out of the supply chain and put it back in the damn stores for American kids,” she said on Facebook.
Meanwhile, Republican Indiana Rep. Jim Banks sent a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra demanding to know how much formula the government had purchased for migrants in recent months.
“It doesn’t matter where they are from or what citizenship they hold, no child deserves to suffer from lack of food. America is the greatest, most compassionate, most generous country on earth,” Banks said in a follow-up statement.
“When the violent cartel coyotes, encouraged by the Biden administration, smuggle babies across our open border, we will not let them go hungry.
“However, the American people struggling to feed their children deserve to know how much baby formula has been purchased by the Biden administration in response to the worst border crisis in history – a catastrophe of the Democrats’ own making.”
Outgoing White House press secretary Jen Psaki addressed the concerns Friday, saying border patrol is “following the law” by making sure there is enough baby formula for migrant infants.
“That law that has been in place and been followed, by the way, by every administration since 1997. So it’s been a law in the United States for a quarter century,” she said at her final press briefing.
“We also think it’s morally the right thing to do,” Psaki added. “We believe that when … babies … are crossing the border with a family member, that providing them formula is morally right, and so we certainly support the implementation of it.”
Additional reporting by Steven Nelson