tags: Press Releases

Americans Want Leadership and a Clear Direction to Meet Immigration Challenges – But GOP is in Disarray and Dems Need a Strategic Vision

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Vanessa Cárdenas: “…the failure to aggressively define and defend this larger vision will not only threaten the viability of this policy agenda but the range of other priorities and political power Democrats care about.”

Washington, DC – While our collective focus has understandably shifted to Israel and Gaza, the political and policy cross-currents on immigration remain in the news. Republicans remain in disarray and unable to govern, with increasingly vile and ugly anti-immigrant attacks a central ingredient in their dysfunctional stew of factions and government shutdown brinkmanship. 

Meanwhile, the White House lurches from a series of sensible policies to address migration to a series of Republican-lite proposals, building a wall and deporting Venezuelans after granting them TPS, for example. In cities and at the border, migrants and asylum seekers continue to arrive in large numbers. Rather than having a clear set of policy responses defined by a stated and well-articulated strategy, Democrats and the White House are all over the map. Migration is a world and hemispheric challenge that the U.S. has both the capacity and the ability to address, but there needs to be an agreed upon strategy articulated at the highest level of government (see more from America’s Voice here on specific recommended approaches for the Biden administration to respond to the policy and political challenges). While the long term solution lies directly in the hands of Congress, in the absence of a functioning Republican Party, Democrats need to show the path forward, lead and deliver. 

As America’s Voice Executive Director Vanessa Cárdenas stated:

“The U.S. is facing a uniquely complex set of policy and political challenges on immigration, yet what we are lacking from this White House is a clearly articulated plan and a coherent set of policies addressing the policy and domestic politics of the migration issue. Ultimately, what we need is to overhaul and reform our immigration system to legalize people who are here; provide legal pathways for future migration based on our needs; and pursue larger ongoing strategies to help stabilize home countries and the region. Getting this balance right will give us greater control over who is here, who is coming, and how we manage migration moving forward. Yet the failure to aggressively define and defend this larger vision will not only threaten the viability of this policy agenda but the range of other priorities and political power Democrats care about.”

Other observers are weighing in on related points, including:

  • In her Arizona Republic column this past weekend, Elvia Díaz writes, “What’s Biden’s immigration endgame anyway?” condemning the short-sighted decision of the Biden administration to greenlight portions of the border wall. Díaz then endorses the call from America’s Voice and Vanessa Cárdenas that, “Biden needs to level with the American people over his options to deal with complex immigration.”
  • Veteran immigration advocate and former Congressman Luis V. Gutiérrez told The Hill, “We need to have a plan” He continued:  

“We need to have a plan for Central America; we need to have a plan for South America. There really is no plan other than ‘don’t come.’ Those two words are not a plan. That’s not a plan. That’s not a plan.

And you know, there are things you could do pretty quickly — like in Venezuela and Latin American countries, allow people to petition for their asylum locally. But make sure that their answer is given in a timely manner, otherwise people won’t believe it’s legitimate and won’t believe it’s a true way to find relief from the dangers that they confront each and every day.”

  • Meanwhile, the New York Times editorial board penned a Sunday editorial, The Cost of Inaction on Immigration,” which concludes with a call to action for Congress to stop abdicating its responsibilities and work to modernize a broken immigration system:

“It is difficult to find an issue that more exemplifies the dysfunction of American government today than immigration.

… leaders in Congress will have to do their part. It’s been a decade since Congress has seriously considered immigration reform. Both parties have missed opportunities to do so, the Democrats most recently at the end of 2022. The party had a narrow majority in Congress but failed to pursue a compromise bill that would have increased funding for border security as well as expanding capacity to hear and decide asylum claims quickly. The future of DACA, a program for those who were brought to the United States as children, is also in doubt, despite its broad public support.

The White House is limited in the actions it can take; Mr. Biden may have exhausted what he can do through his executive authority. Until Congress decides to take meaningful action, America will continue to pay a price.”

  • As Greg Sargent of the Washington Post highlights, the ongoing Republican House Speaker drama and dysfunction includes continued focus on extreme and unworkable immigration policy demands – underscoring the point it’s up to Democrats to hold the line against this harmful vision while making progress where they can on immigration solutions and strategies: Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) is “threatening to derail the next round of talks about keeping the government open — unless Democrats agree to restrictions on asylum-seeking that are not just wildly extreme, but would be entirely unworkable even if Democrats were inclined to accept them.”