tags: Press Releases

“Crafting Immigration Policy in Hopes of Avoiding Bad Politics and Failing in Both Cases”

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Washington, DC – The fierce blowback to the Biden administration’s potential reinstatement of family detention – fresh off the condemnation and analysis of their recently announced asylum ban – raises questions about their larger vision, motivations, and assessments. President Biden has not spoken clearly, consistently or often about how he approaches the immigration issue and instead, there has been sporadic attention, isolated policies and proposals, and no coherent vision for where he wants to take the country or the values and vision that undergird that approach. 

According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice: 

America has always been a magnet for immigrants from all over the world throughout our history, not just the last two years, but for hundreds of years. Immigration has made our country what it is today. The world sees us as a land of opportunity and where anyone, no matter their background, can make their dreams a reality. 

The issue now is how to successfully manage immigration in a way that is orderly, fair and works for America. There are many thoughtful proposals on the table that would make up a comprehensive and modern plan for immigration and address the presence of people seeking safety through asylum at the border. These plans do not and should never include putting children and families behind bars or blocking access to an asylum process. The current proposals by the Biden administration miss the mark and are band-aid solutions  which do not seem to have a moral or intellectual organizing principle to hold them together.  

The throughline between the Biden administration’s recently announced and recently leaked policies is the wrongheaded idea that deterrence-only policies work, either as smart policy or sound politics. President Biden should voice and stick to a larger vision which lays out how to address immigration in a way that is orderly and consistent with our values. The messages coming from the White House are in stark contrast to the vision laid out by candidate Joe Biden and much more reflective of the failed and divisive Trump-Stephen Miller era policies.” 

From the American Immigration Lawyers Association, National Immigrant Justice Center, the #WelcomeWithDignity campaign, and other organizations (examples here) to the immigration priorities blueprint recently released by The Immigration Hub and 39 groups (including America’s Voice), there’s no shortage of smart policy blueprints that outline an alternative vision to deterrence-only cruelty. But they require the Biden administration to lean in and approach immigration through a different political lens, as several smart observers are pointing out:

Writing for MSNBC, Hayes Brown has insightful analysis:

“I understand the urge to do something in anticipation of what the expiration of Title 42 will bring, especially given Congress’s unwillingness to pass anything that resembles reform that would actually benefit migrants and asylum-seekers. (I am normally loathe to “both sides” an issue, but too many congressional Democrats have been cowed into submission with the GOP’s false “open borders” rhetoric to make any progress.) But the Biden administration is crafting immigration policy in the hopes of avoiding bad politics and failing in both cases.

No matter how much the White House tries to appease them with more restrictive immigration policies, Republicans will attack. At the same time, any deterrents it tries to erect will never fully stem the flow of people willing to cross mountains, rivers and borders in pursuit of a better life. In the face of these two truths, Biden is at risk of letting his fear of Republicans make him cruel.”

As David Dayen assessed in The American Prospect, “Biden’s Ostrich Maneuver on Immigration”:

“The administration appears to recognize refugees as a headline they can erase. All of its recent actions seem calculated to keep immigration stories off the front pages of conservative news sites and the chyrons on Fox News.

…Meanwhile, anyone with a passing familiarity with the Biden administration’s economic strategy knows that a restrictionist immigration policy is incompatible with the growth in domestic manufacturing and employment that Biden is seeking. There is now a serious shortage of construction workers for the expansion in manufacturing encouraged by Biden’s policies. One of the more obvious ways to handle that workforce shortage is through expanding immigration. But the ostrich-like approach of the White House makes that option politically impossible.

The administration’s defensive crouch, then, is leading to circumstances critics describe as inhumane, a weaker build-out of domestic manufacturing, and a periodic popping-up of scandals, without quieting a conservative brigade that will never stop criticizing a Democratic president’s immigration policies. Bad policy, bad politics, and an endless drift that alienates allies. It’s hard to see how this could get much worse.”

And as Maribel Hastings and David Torres of America’s Voice en Español write in their new weekly column, Nefarious immigration policies are a slap in the face, no matter who they come from, which has so far run in Spanish on Univision.com, La Opinión, El Tiempo Latino and elsewhere (translation by America’s Voice):

“In the face of criticism from a Republican Party controlled by extremists, a Democratic president prefers to cede to Republican pressure. But no matter what Biden does, his opposition will never be in line, much less collaborate to offer sensible legislative solutions to the problem. What’s worse is that he does this knowing that he is breaking campaign promises to an electoral group that has supported his party, election after election, despite those broken promises.”