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Key Lessons for Democrats as GOP Pushes for More Border Chaos

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Washington, DC – While it’s of course still very early in the post-Title 42 world, the official end to the policy last night did not bring the visual scenes of chaos that some had anticipated. In fact, several excellent segments focused on the real stories and humanity of those seeking refuge in the United States, in contrast to ongoing fear-mongering and dehumanizing efforts by right wing media (see this Chris Hayes segment and this Jose Diaz Balart appearance on MSNBC “11th Hour” show for two excellent examples). Meanwhile, on-the-ground reporters depicted a relatively calm and orderly process (see example coverage from AP’s Valerie Gonzalez here). 

The reality is that while we’ll likely face a near-term increase in the volume of individuals and families seeking asylum and refuge due to the backlog and bottleneck caused by Title 42, immigrants and asylum seekers want a line to get into and to follow the law. That has proven almost impossible due to the byzantine and shifting set of policies affecting them, compounded by pervasive disinformation shared by smugglers and the relentless Republicans and right wing media shouting “open borders,” which has led even more immigrants to the border.

In this environment, it’s essential for Democrats to remain clear-eyed about the way forward in this high-stakes policy and political moment. As Greg Sargent of the Washington Post writes in an insightful new column:

“…Democrats have to find a way to communicate that the answer to border disorder isn’t merely “toughness” and “restrictions”; it’s letting more people in through legal channels and managing the process of applying at the border better. At a time when myriad factors throughout Central and South America are driving huge migration flows, one key route to a more stable system is facilitating more legal immigration, not less.

If Democrats can’t get this right, voters might conclude that the Trump-GOP offering is the only way to achieve order. The stakes in getting this wrong are extraordinarily high. We could end up with reinstated family separations and a whole lot worse.”

Yet Republicans continue to seek to block, dismantle and obstruct policies that facilitate a balanced approach to building and maintaining an orderly and safe border, including those that alleviate border pressures and that provide alternatives to a trek to the southern border. Witness:

  • Yesterday, a Republican-appointee judge in Pensacola, FL sided with the DeSantis administration and issued a temporary restraining order that would block the Biden administration’s ability to parole migrants in areas with holding capacity issues. As the Washington Post assessed, “The ruling cuts off a potential pressure valve for the Biden administration after senior officials have repeatedly assured they are prepared for the strains…”
  • This followed yesterday’s House Republican passage of HR2 along near party lines. It’s a grab bag of cruel and unworkable policies, including measures to eviscerate orderly processing and restrict policy alternatives to border chaos. The legislation won’t go anywhere in the Senate and is more about political attack ads and MAGA fundraising than real solutions.
  • See here for a deeper dive on how Republicans have dismantled or blocked solutions that would alleviate border pressures, despite decrying the volume of arrivals and “chaos” at the border. This includes a lawsuit to restrict the government’s long standing use of parole as a tool in managing border arrivals.

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

“America can manage this moment and we know how to do it in a manner that is both orderly and just, reflecting our values, interests and the rule of law. But not if Democrats buy into Republicans’ vision that this is a perpetual crisis that requires perpetual enforcement-only policies that embrace Trump-lite policies – and don’t fix the problem. 

The fact that hardworking people want to come to America is a blessing, not a curse. And the past several days have demonstrated that they would like to come through an orderly and safe process, if we were able to overcome political gridlock to provide such a process for them. 

So breathe deep, remember the humanity and real stories of those affected, and that immigration is central to America’s prosperity now and in the future. Let’s work towards balanced solutions that Americans strongly support.”