Washington, DC – Ahead of tonight’s State of the Union address, America’s Voice releases three key points of emphasis for President Biden on immigration.
According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “On immigration, there is a huge gap between where most American voters are and where Republicans want to take the country. President Biden should use the State of the Union to remind the country that immigrants are essential to a strong America, to outline his vision for real immigration solutions and to draw sharp contrasts with a Republican Party intent to peddle anti-immigrant fears and falsehoods and obstruct popular reforms and progress.”
Point 1: Use Your Bully Pulpit to Underscore How Immigrants and Smart Immigration Policy are Essential to a Strong and Vibrant America:
President Biden has an opportunity to speak frankly to the American people about the key role immigrants play in our nation and our economy, and to assert strong leadership in turning the page on President Trump and Stephen Miller’s policies. His vision of immigrants and immigration reform is broadly popular – see recent polling from NBC News underscoring this point.
Getting immigration right – and overcoming the bad faith obstruction and nativism of Republicans – is a prerequisite for growing our economy and combating inflation and labor shortages. As Boston Globe columnist Marcela García wrote, “More than anything, Biden must recognize that the US economy’s struggles with inflation and labor shortages are inextricably linked with immigration policy. There are two job openings per every unemployed person looking for work, according to Rebecca Shi, executive director of the American Business Immigration Coalition. Indeed, the message Biden should emphasize is simple: It’s the economy, stupid — and more immigrants.”
Point 2: Lean In to Immigration Solutions That Draw Sharp Contrasts with Republicans: In recent weeks, we’ve seen the Biden Administration lean in to immigration issues in a new way, no longer content to cede the debate and framing to a Republican Party hellbent on politicizing immigration and blocking the broader reforms we need and the country supports. President Biden should continue leaning in during tonight’s SOTU address and beyond.
In sharp contrast to Republicans, the Biden-Harris administration is putting forward short and longer-term solutions to address immigration, manage the border and address the hemispheric refugee crisis and factors that are forcing people to leave their home countries and make a dangerous trek to the U.S. border. We do not love all of what they have proposed, but the fact that they are engaging is significant.
Meanwhile, Republicans aim to keep out and kick out immigrants and refugees; slash legal immigration channels; end the DACA program; embrace of border walls and mass deportation and family separation; and continued use of racist conspiracy theories and lies around fentanyl as the basis for their border-related political attacks. These policies are harmful and politically unpopular – but Democrats must continue to define the contrasts.
Point 3: Congress needs to act – and the Biden Administration should use executive actions to deliver progress where the legislative branch refuses: We have an immigration system that is antiquated, strained, and inflexible to the needs and interests of the United States and the realities of modern, global migration.
Unfortunately, a Republican Party in the grip of its MAGA extremist wing and in control of the House of Representatives makes the prospects for a legislative breakthrough to modernize our immigration system bleak for this Congress. Republicans seem intent to rely on congressional obstruction and a conservative judiciary to block the larger reforms we need and the country supports. Even popular and successful programs like DACA and a legislative solution for Dreamers seem gridlocked.
That does not mean, however, that the Biden Administration cannot deliver important immigration progress. For one, as highlighted above, the President and others can and should lean in to outline their vision and proposed solutions and draw sharp contrasts with the GOP. And the Biden Administration also should use the powers he has under current law, including executive action to expand and redesignate TPS for Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala. Democrats will never win over the hearts and minds of MAGA Republicans in the House by proposing harsh measures because there are no anti-immigrant measures harsh enough to satisfy them. Therefore, President Biden should refrain from proposing policies like the recently proposed asylum transit ban ripped from the immigration playbook of the former President and Stephen Miller.
- Read yesterday’s statement from Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice, assessing VP Harris immigration speech and larger moment: HERE