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Immigration and the State of the Union: An Opportunity for President Biden

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Washington, DC — The following is a statement from Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice, previewing immigration and President Biden’s State of the Union address: 

“During tomorrow’s State of the Union address, the issue of immigration and border security are likely to be addressed. We expect President Biden will call out Republicans and their leader, Donald Trump, for their gamesmanship, extremism and preference for crass race-based politics over solutions – including the refusal by congressional Republicans to pass the bipartisan bill that included many border provisions they had long embraced.

But President Biden shouldn’t stop there. We hope the President seizes the opportunity to broaden the conversation and remind all Americans that we are a nation of immigrants. Whether your ancestors are from Ireland or Bolivia, or Germany, or from virtually every corner of this globe, America has been a beacon of hope for people seeking to join the American Dream throughout our history. President Biden has a chance to re-center the conversation and outline his vision for the ideas that motivate the majority of Americans. Namely, a balanced approach to modernize our immigration system that includes an orderly and secure border alongside such popular ideas as citizenship for Dreamers and support for legal immigration. The American public is broadly supportive of this type of balanced approach rather than an enforcement-only focus. 

At a time when immigrants are helping lead our economic growth and the fight against inflation, and as we unofficially kick off the general election, President Biden’s speech also offers a chance to contrast two views of immigrants and America.

Donald Trump is relentlessly deploying the oldest trick in the book – using race as a deliberate tactic to stoke division, tout lies about immigrants and crime, and exploit terrible tragedies – all in pursuit of political power. Meanwhile, Trump is whitewashing his real first-term immigration record – which wasn’t just cruel, but a chaotic failure, including as judged by the metric of ‘border encounters.’ And he pledges that a second Trump term would include mass roundups, military camps, the purge of long-settled immigrants, and a dizzying array of other policies that would harm not only immigrant families, but all Americans. 

As Trump asserts that immigrants are ‘poisoning the blood of our country,’ President Biden has a chance to make a forceful case that immigration and immigrants strengthen America, but that we need to reform a broken system to ensure a legal and orderly process and to address the challenges and opportunities posed by 21st century migration. 

Getting this right and winning this argument goes well beyond immigration law and policy and is central to larger questions of who we are as a country and our future as an inclusive, multiracial democracy.”

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