Washington, DC – There’s a stark divide between what the Biden administration promised and what the administration is delivering on immigration, border, asylum and racial justice issues. Deportations of Haitians continue despite the deadly conditions on the ground; expulsions of asylum seekers without due process or an ability to seek asylum continue; and progress for undocumented immigrants already living here have hit roadblocks. While there have been some concrete improvements since the Biden administration took office, there is widespread disappointment that more has not been accomplished.
On border and asylum policies, Nicole Narea of Vox phrased it well last week, writing: “There is a growing gulf between the progressive immigration values President Joe Biden professes and the enforcement policies he’s implementing at the border.” From keeping Title 42 on the books and using it to justify the mass expulsion of Haitian migrants to reinstituting the “Remain in Mexico” policy, the Biden administration is failing to live up to its stated promises, as well as its moral and legal obligations.
Advocates are increasingly outraged. This weekend, it came into public view as advocates walked out of an online meeting with administration officials over plans to reinstate the Remain in Mexico policy, or MPP (Migration Protection Protocols). As Politico reported over the weekend,
“Dozens of immigration advocates walked out, virtually, on top Biden officials Saturday in protest of the administration’s decision to continue border policies enacted during the Trump administration … The activists read a statement accusing the administration of ‘playing politics with human lives’ and said they could no longer ‘come into these conversations in good conscience … We have sadly reached a turning point,’ they said, then most of the advocates exited the video call.”
Meanwhile, the public health justification for keeping asylum seekers out through Title 42 expulsions has worn thin, with physicians and public health experts increasingly unwilling to support the use of COVID-19 as an excuse for blanket expulsions. See a new op-ed from key public health experts that ran in The Hill under the headline “The CDC’s Title 42 order fuels racism and undermines public health.”
There has been additional outrage as the Biden administration has sent more than 75 deportation flights to Haiti in recent weeks despite the headline-grabbing violence, kidnappings and chaos on the ground.
All of this is happening in the context of high expectations that a breakthrough on legal status for millions of undocumented immigrants and essential workers will take place as part of COVID-19 relief. While Democrats continue to state their commitment to deliver relief for millions of undocumented immigrants, we’re past the point of promises. The proof will be in what is ultimately enacted with the Democratic majority.
According to Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice:
The Biden administration and Democrats were elected to deliver on their big promises. On immigration, they’re falling woefully short.
They promised to transform the cruelty and chaos of the Trump administration into a ‘transformative vision’ that was fair, orderly and humane, while delivering long overdue and life-changing relief to undocumented immigrants.
Yet they are deporting Haitians to a failing state wracked with violence and disorder, keeping Title 42 in place despite outcry from immigration and public health advocates, and are set to reinstitute Trump and Stephen Miller’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ program, which will put even more asylum seekers in harm’s way.
Meanwhile, uncertainty surrounds the legislative solution for undocumented immigrants and it remains unclear, beyond more promises, that concrete relief will be delivered this year. All of this contributes to growing worry that excuses won’t be tolerated by voters who helped elect Democrats in the first place.