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Biden Embraces Immigrants; Trump Tries to Erase Them: Contrasting Visions of Undocumented Immigrants in America in Sharp Relief

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As SCOTUS Hears Trump’s Census Apportionment Challenge, Biden Reiterates Support for Citizenship for Undocumented Immigrants

 The incoming Biden administration continues to highlight its support for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants – the cornerstone of the Biden-Harris immigration vision and a broadly popular policy across the divided electorate. 

In a NBC News interview that aired before Thanksgiving, President-elect Biden said that during his first 100 days: “I will send an immigration bill to the United States Senate with a pathway to citizenship for over 11 million undocumented people in America.” The citizenship commitment joins other recent pledges from the incoming administration to restore DACA and TPS, end family separation, help farmworkers and other essential workers, and renew America’s commitment to refugees.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration’s ongoing effort to exclude and erase immigrants and immigration continues in the President’s final weeks. Today, Trump’s move to eliminate unauthorized immigrants from the Census will be heard by the Supreme Court. As Trump and Stephen Miller confront their electoral defeat, they are pushing to do as much damage to immigration as possible, which fits into their larger project to deny and erase the contributions and basic humanity of immigrants.

According to Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice:

It is no secret that Biden and Trump have different visions of immigrants’ role in America, but the competing goals of the two approaches have come into even sharper relief.

President-elect Biden is grounded in the reality that millions of immigrants without papers live, work and raise families here and that the best policy for them, the best policy for everyone else and the most popular outcome for American voters is to establish a legal process for immigrants to get legal and on a path to citizenship. Biden is telling millions of undocumented immigrants, ‘we see you, we value your essential work and want to formally recognize you and your contributions to our country through a path to citizenship.’ 

Meanwhile, Trump’s relentless project to dehumanize and erase immigrants’ contributions and to deny that they exist in America is encapsulated by his administration’s Census legal challenge. But this is just one of many actions that Miller and Trump are taking before they leave to make legal immigration, citizenship, work and family visas and temporary and permanent legal status much more difficult, especially for non-white immigrants.

The American people have made clear which vision for immigrants they embrace. While the electorate is divided politically, support for citizenship is a point of broad consensus among a multiracial majority of Americans – and support for legal status has become stronger during Trump’s reign.  Clearly, for most Americans the question is how we incorporate those who live and work here into our nation and how we have a humane, fair immigration process for the future that serves the needs of the American people.  It’s to the credit of the incoming administration that they are proudly embracing this reality.