Can Biden find the right balance on immigration?

Can Biden find the right balance on immigration?

Washington Democrats used demands to reform the nation’s crippled immigration system as a bludgeon against Republicans in the 2020 campaign. Vote us, go for the argument, we’ll stop the cruel treatment of immigrants at the border, and we’ll put in place durable, humane policies that work.

A year into Joe Biden’s presidency, action on the issue has been hard to find and there is particularly growing concern among some in the party that the Biden administration cannot find the right balance on immigration.

Publicly, it’s another story. Most lawmakers in Washington largely stick to their tongues, unwilling to criticize their leader on a polarizing topic that has led to divisions within the party — especially as concerns grow about whether Democrats can cling to power next year.

Striking the balance is tough work, said Douglas Rivlin, a spokesperson for Voice of America, an immigration reform group. Especially when Republicans act relentlessly in their negativity toward the president, even a little friendly fire can be a challenge.


“It’s hard but they have to do it,” he said. They will face next year’s electorate, All the People in Hill. Biden is not. And they need to be clear that they’re pushing Biden to be the Democratic president we elected, rather than being afraid of the issues because politics is tough.”

Democrats have pointed to the House of Representatives’ recent approval of a massive spending bill backed by the White House that would allow expanded work permits and some other less ambitious immigration provisions. When Biden took office, he promised a path to US citizenship for millions of people in the country illegally. Democrats say the measures in the spending bill are enough to show the party will not shy away from the immigration issue during next year’s midterm elections.

“I don’t see that as the president’s fault per se or … in El Paso, Texas, across the border from Juarez, Mexico,” said Representative Veronica Escobar, a Democrat who represents one of the provinces. “It’s a collective commitment we have and I think Democrats have solutions and we need to rely on it.”


Her fellow Democrat, Representative Joaquin Castro of San Antonio, dismissed a question when asked if House members of swing counties would have to flee Biden in 2022, saying “I’ll wait for the political discussions.”

But Castro added that the party had done everything it could on immigration at this session, given Senate rules that prevented larger legislation on the issue from progressing with the required minimum of 60 votes in that chamber.

“Right now, the Democrats control the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives and we’ve done everything we can with the number of rooms we have to get deportation protection, workplace permits, driver’s licenses and travel capabilities,” Castro said.

Former Democratic Representative Beto O’Rourke, who recently announced his candidacy for governor of Texas, was one of the few Democrats to put the border front and center, almost immediately heading to the US-Mexico border after he announced he was running. , where he indicated that the White House does not provide any services to the party.


“Obviously Biden could do a better job on the frontier,” O’Rourke said during an interview with KTVT in Dallas-Fort Worth. “This is not a priority enough.”

Like most top Democrats, O’Rourke will have to contend with the Republican-driven narrative that the increase in people illegally crossing the border this year has reached “crisis” levels. The campaign accused incumbent Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott O’Rourke of supporting Biden’s “open borders” policies and funding billboards along the border that show O’Rourke’s face turning into the president’s.

Nick Rathod, Roark’s campaign manager, sees “negligence, I think, by Democrats across the board, not just the Biden administration, in engaging in a real way in those communities” along the border.

“It created a kind of void. What we want to do is fill that space.”

But immigration is a complex issue, and no administration has been able to solve it. Biden is caught between the conflicting interests of showing compassion while dealing with immigrants coming into the country — illegally — in search of a better life.


The department said it is focusing on the root causes of immigration, and is working to broker long-term solutions that make immigrants want to stay in their home countries. They have pushed through regulations aimed at adjudicating asylum cases faster so that immigrants do not wait in limbo, and they have worked to reduce the huge backlog.

But mostly, Biden has spent much of the past year rolling back Trump-era rules widely seen as harsh that have restricted asylum seekers, canceled the number of refugees allowed into the United States, and then closed borders entirely in the name of COVID-19.

Despite the effort, Biden has faced criticism from progressives and immigrant advocates who say he still uses too many inhumane policies under Trump.

One of the most criticized programs is the “Stay in Mexico” programme, in which migrants are sent to wait for their immigration claims to be resolved across the border into Mexico in fetid makeshift refugee camps. It was suspended after a judge ruled it inappropriate, but according to court papers, the Biden administration is awaiting final agreements with Mexico to start doing so again.


“We reject a system in which people who face the consequences of life and death are forced to contend with a complex legal system – in a language they may not speak and in a culture they may not be accustomed to – on their own,” said the Catholic Legal Migration Network. Permit.

Another provision, known as Title 42, gives federal health officials powers during a pandemic to take extraordinary measures to reduce transmission of an infectious disease. The White House has appealed a judge’s ruling that ended the regulation.

The administration used this ruling to justify the deportation of Haitian immigrants who entered Texas. After viral photos surfaced of US Border Patrol agents on horseback using aggressive tactics, Biden’s team came under fire from even the most powerful allies.

Republicans are scrutinizing border security, intent on keeping the issue in the headlines. This issue remains a high priority for some voters. A CNN poll earlier this month showed that 14% of Americans identified immigration as the number one issue facing the county, after the economy and the COVID-19 pandemic.


The US Border Patrol reported more than 1.6 million encounters with migrants along the US-Mexico border from September 2020 to September 2021, more than four times the number in the previous fiscal year and the highest annual total on record.

The number of encounters over the past 12 months has fallen to about 400,000, as the pandemic slows global migration. But the recovery is now higher than the previous record set in 2000, according to US Customs and Border Protection data. The outcome includes both expulsions when immigrants are rejected outright, and fears when they are detained by US authorities, at least temporarily.

The US system is still ill-equipped to deal with such a scramble, though professional immigration officials have warned of a surge to come. Border stations are temporary places of detention not intended for long-term care. It is a huge logistical challenge, particularly when dealing with children who are crossing alone and need higher standards of care and interagency coordination.



Associated Press writers Alan Fram and Farnoush Amiri contributed to this report.

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