tags: , , , , , Press Releases

Biden Team Needs An Immigration Reset to Get Back On Offense and Blunt Republican Attacks

Share This:

“We cannot sit back and watch another Democratic administration blow it on immigration.”

Washington, DC – According to Bloomberg Government, Assistant Democratic Senate Leader Patty Murray (D-WA) is “as committed as ever” to seeing immigration reform move forward as part of the Build Back Better reconciliation bill currently stalled in the Senate. She said, “We need to explore every legislative option and go as big as we can on immigration with the votes we’ve got.”

Sen. Murray is one of the few Democratic leaders, with notable exceptions, who are confidently leaning into immigration. At the White House, it is a different story. The reviews of Biden’s first year in office were withering, even from his strongest supporters. Now come revelations that there has been an internal White House battle between those who feel the immigration issue is an opportunity and those who see it as a liability. 

Meanwhile, Republicans are tipping into ever more dangerous and fringy conspiracy theories drenched in xenophobia and disinformation and are making attacking Biden on immigration a centerpiece of their messaging from the highest levels of leadership, on the campaign trail and through their right-wing media allies.

The following is a statement from Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice:

Biden needs an immigration reset to get back on offense, blunt Republican attacks and win policy and political victories. The White House, Majority Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi need to determine a legislative path that will succeed – either through the parliamentarian or by ignoring the parliamentarian. Whatever happens in Congress, President Biden needs to step up and take bold executive action. Blaming inaction on Senator Manchin and Elizabeth McDonough is not going to cut it.

We cannot sit back and watch another Democratic administration blow it on immigration. The White House is hunkering down and hoping the immigration issue will go away. If they are betting on the fact that this November pro-immigrant progressive voters will vote for Democrats anyway, their hopes are inflated. In any case, hope is not a strategy. Biden and the Democrats need a plan that delivers on its promises.

We’ve seen this movie before. And we’ve learned the hard way that the way Democrats win on immigration is to lean in, take on Republican attacks and show with confidence that Democrats have better, more popular and achievable solutions on immigration than the other guys.

But Democrats need to tell voters what they are for and back up their words with actions and a ‘Republican-light’ or ‘humane’ version of Trump’s cruel enforcement is neither morally nor politically defensible.

Republicans are lining up behind an electoral strategy that relies on strategic racism, conspiracy theories and misinformation and in Washington, they oppose immigration in all its forms. They are putting their xenophobic agenda ahead of helping the American economy, which needs workers, or our COVID-19 strategy, where hospitals are short staffed and our food supply depends on workers who lack legal status and basic labor rights and benefits.

Democrats, go on offense.

When the economy needs workers and rural hospitals face nursing shortages, call out Republican opposition to legal immigration.

American communities are sustained by the food grown and the work done by immigrants who we call ‘essential,’ yet remain deportable unless Democrats act and overcome Republican intransigence. 

Our policies to close border crossings to asylum seekers, send them back to danger or wharehouse them in COVID-rich detention centers are a moral stain on the nation, not policies to be defended in court, as the Biden administration is doing. Deporting Haitians to Haiti or Venezuelans to Colombia based on Stephen Miller’s twisted bastardization of public health regulations is not a solution to any problem we face. 

A year ago, the President articulated a sound, comprehensive strategy to address migration in the Central and North American region, but too little has been done to follow through, make the policies known and sell them to the American people. 

Biden has a tool solely at his discretion known as Temporary Protected Status or TPS that can be used under law without Congress or Republicans intervening to stop it or water it down. Granting TPS to Guatemala and redesignating it for El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua would be an investment in regional stability, addressing the root causes of migration and a boost to the U.S. economy and the fight against inflation. Use it.

When then-Congressman Rahm Emanuel said in 2007 that immigration was ‘the third rail’ of American politics and Democrats touch it at their peril, he was dead wrong, as he later found out when he was Mayor of Chicago. Continuing to follow Rahm’s bad 2007 advice now is political malpractice. Policies designed to tamp down right wing political blowback don’t lessen the right wing attacks and are at odds with stated promises. Extremism and opposition to legal immigration are vulnerabilities of the modern GOP to be exploited. 

Democratic policies are rooted in our values of justice, opportunity and hard work. Democrats believe in keeping families together, defending human rights, promoting economic growth and, by the way, telling the truth. The policies are supported by the American people, they just don’t hear Democratic leaders following through on them with decisive action and clear progress.

Lean in, Democrats, so voters know what Democrats support and why.