Washington, DC – Republicans’ relentless attacks on the Biden administration’s border and immigration policies are in overdrive with the announcement that Title 42 restrictions will lift at the end of May. Instead of simply advancing the GOP framing – filled with its falsehoods, simplistic soundbites, and overt nativism – we encourage observers to ask Republicans to answer several related questions:
- Do you think Ukrainians should be treated differently than other people fleeing violence, who are all subject to Title 42? If not, please explain why you think asylum seekers from other countries should be treated differently. And what about Cubans, Nicarauguans or Venezuelans fleeing communism? Where would the GOP draw the line and is there a criteria other than race?
- How do you reconcile the GOP talking point on Biden’s supposed “open borders” with the fact that the Biden administration removed or detained 80% of those apprehended?
Despite the ubiquity of the Republican talking point about Biden’s “open borders,” 80% of the people “encountered” at the border during the Biden administration have been detained or expelled, and many “encounters” have been multi-counted due to policies such as Title 42. Meanwhile, CBP data show the second-highest rate of “interdiction effectiveness” of all time last fiscal year – meaning that a smaller percentage of people attempting to cross the border were successful.
- If President Biden’s policies are to blame for the uptick in border encounters, how do you explain sharp increases in border arrivals during the Trump administration?
The American Immigration Council finds that “despite significantly higher overall encounters at the border, it is likely that in 2021, fewer people were admitted into the United States and placed into normal deportation proceedings when compared to the period of high migration that occurred between 2018 and 2019.” Got that? In an apples to apples comparison, Trump had higher admissions at the border than Biden. Moreover, the spike in border apprehensions coincides with the implementation of Title 42 under Trump (see American Immigration Council analysis here and Aaron Reichlin-Melnick’s telling tweet here.) From a border control standpoint, Title 42 is a huge failure.
Let’s be clear that demagoguing Biden on the border was the plan from the get-go. Even before President Biden took office, Republicans and rightwing media started their “open borders” attacks on Biden and tried to whitewash the Trump record. For example, former Acting ICE Director Tom Homan was on Fox News in August 2020 blaming Biden for a 40% increase in border arrivals happening during summer of 2020. As the American Immigration Council concludes, “There have been spikes in arrivals at the border in 2014, 2016, 2019, and now 2021 … A new spike was inevitable.” It had to do with the lifting of COVID lockdowns and the violence, corruption, food insecurity and political repression that drives forced migration.
- Why do you think the border wall is an effective policy, why is spending billions more on it a good use of taxpayer money?
Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), recently issued a political blueprint that calls to “secure our border, finish building the wall, and name it after President Donald Trump.” Meanwhile, CBP data show at least 3,272 examples of the wall being sawed through over just the past three years – meaning that the centerpiece of Republicans’ immigration ‘vision’ is a $15 billion border wall that can be cut through with a $15 dollar hand saw. The border wall remains the perfect encapsulation of Trump’s presidency and the Trump-ified Republican Party – broken, corrupt, offensive and ineffective.
- Republicans, led by Sen. John Cornyn and others, are making a false connection between the importation of dangerous drugs like fentanyl and Biden border policy.
Republicans are not taking concrete steps to fight the importation of drugs. They are using the fear of drug importation as part of a broader campaign to activate voters using dog-whistles and fear. 99% of all drugs come via trucks, cars, boats, and planes – not on the backs of immigrants. And most Republicans voted against the bipartisan infrastructure bill that invests in ports of entry and enhances screening of cargo, including screening for fentanyl. The fight against drugs will entail border screening and cartel disruption and strategic investments in Latin America and elsewhere, so where do Republicans stand on these tactics to address where the drugs are? Or are they only focused on where the drugs aren’t, migrants seeking safety at the border?
According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Deputy Director of America’s Voice:
Every Republican on the political attack about Biden’s border policies should be forced to answer a few unanswered questions of their own. What is their plan? What is their solution other than the status quo? The truth is that Republicans only want to play politics and divide us, not advance real solutions. Democrats need to do what they were elected to do: govern and keep addressing these issues head-on as they outline their vision and plans, while calling out the Republicans for their proven failures and falsehoods.