tags: Press Releases

Vanessa Cárdenas on Why Biden Administration Asylum Ban Gets Both Policy and Politics Wrong

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Washington, DC – Yesterday, the Biden Administration released its asylum ban proposed rule. See here for the immediate reaction from America’s Voice Director of Communication, Douglas Rivlin. The following is a statement from Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice, taking stock of the asylum ban, its implications and reactions one day after its announcement:

“The proposed Biden asylum ban gets both the policy and politics of the moment wrong and is a self-inflicted setback for a White House and President that promised to turn the page on the cruelties and chaos of the Trump era.

On policy: we need broader immigration reform and a sustained strategy, not deterrence-only band aids that trample on proud American traditions and leadership. The bottom line is that Congress needs to deliver on a broader overhaul to modernize our broken immigration system including provisions addressing forced migration, new legal channels to address our need for immigrants, and a pathway for citizenship for the undocumented which the majority of voters support. Of course, given GOP control of the House, we won’t hold our breath for this sorely needed legislative fix. Yet, in the interim, the answer isn’t adopting policies that mirror the cruelty of the Trump-approach and will incentivize more disorder and chaos (see Kerri Talbot’s assessment for more)

And on that note, here is something to think about long and hard: the fact that Trump’s Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf is praising the Biden asylum ban should tell you all you need to know about the new proposed policy’s roots and implications. We can and must do better. For alternative visions of how to fix and fully resource our asylum process and maintain both order and humanity at the border, see these recommended policy blueprints – from the American Immigration Lawyers Association, National Immigrant Justice Center, the #WelcomeWithDignity campaign, and other organizations (examples here).

On politics, the asylum ban is not savvy positioning or smart triangulation ahead of the 2024 elections. Yes, President Biden needs to shore up his handling of immigration issues ahead of re-election. That objective isn’t achieved by undercutting America’s moral leadership, dampening enthusiasm among key Democratic constituencies, and blurring distinctions with Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans while adopting their GOP frame. From Senators Cory Booker, Bob Menendez, Ben Ray Lujan and Alex Padilla to Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) Chair Nanette Barragán to Representatives Pramila Jayapal, Rep. Jerry Nadler, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Rep. Chuy Garciá and Rep. Adriano Espaillat, numerous Democrats are already condemning the announcement.  

As the GOP continues its preference for political stunts and dangerous extremism, President Biden and Democrats can and should lean in to show a contrast on immigration more purposefully, and define the Republican Party as hellbent on blocking reforms, keeping Dreamers imperiled, and maintaining the broken status quo

The bottom line is that there is no enforcement policy that President Biden adopts will ever assuage the relentless Republican attacks on Biden regarding immigration and the border. But the best way to address that reality isn’t by blurring distinctions with Republicans, but defining them in sharper relief.”