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“We’re the United States of America. We Can Do This.”

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Biden and Democrats Go Big to Change People’s Lives; Post-Policy GOP Goes Hard Right to Rile Up White Grievance Voters


A multiracial majority in America voted in Democrats to run the White House, the Senate and the House. Biden and the Democrats know that they have a window of opportunity to do big things that materially improve the lives of the American people. As Biden said during the presidential campaign, “We’re the United States of America, and there’s not a damn thing we can’t do once we set our minds to it.”

Meanwhile, the post-policy, thoroughly Trumpified GOP is stoking the culture war, defending Dr. Seuss and Mr. Potato Head, and attacking the Biden administration for protecting unaccompanied children who come to our border to seek protection from violence. 

The transition from a Trump presidency anchored in racism, xenophobia, plutocracy and indifference to a Biden presidency focused on delivering results on multiple fronts is a challenge.

On COVID, for example, when Trump realized that governing in a pandemic is hard, he gave up and left us on our own. He wanted to make it go away, like a miracle, so he would have a better chance of winning reelection. Biden has focused on putting shots in people’s arms, money in people’s pockets, and backing for educators and students, essential state and local government functions, and small businesses that form the backbone of our economy. 

On immigration, Trump made it his signature issue because it riled up his white grievance base. He could pit “his people” against an “invasion” of “criminals” from “shithole countries.” His hardcore supporters loved the cruelty and the racism, both of which came easily to the former President. 

Stephen Miller’s obsession with anti-immigrant policies led to a dizzying array of policies and a relentless effort to portray vulnerable kids seeking refuge in America as gang members and dangerous criminals. They used this cynical and repeated framing to justify a web of cruel policies that gutted America’s refugee and asylum system by executive fiat: zero tolerance; family separations; family detention; expanded detention in horrid conditions; Remain in Mexico; metering; third-country agreements; dramatically increasing barriers to asylum access; politicizing immigration courts and judges; putting Border Patrol officers in charge of asylum screenings; invoking a 1944 health law to expel one and all; and much, much more. The goal of Trump’s lawless policy was to prevent asylum applicants from having their cases heard and adjudicated in the U.S. See here for more of the litany of cruel failures and Trump’s record.

Biden has promised to undo the cruelty of Trump’s war on immigrants and refugees, take on the difficult challenge of building a fair, functional and humane system, and to transform the antiquated immigration system with sweeping legislation that creates pathways to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants who are American in all but paperwork. Just this week, the Biden administration granted TPS to Venezuelans and ended the “wealth test” that denied immigrants services they needed for fear of losing their status. Next week, House Democrats will vote on several pieces of important legislation on the House floor that would put Dreamers, TPS/DED holders and farm workers on pathways to citizenship. 

The cruel and failed policies authored by Trump and Miller and inherited by the Biden team along the border are a humanitarian, legal, and policy challenge of the highest order. They are seeking to reunite separated families; rebuild the dismantled immigration and asylum system; address larger regional instability in Central America; and put in place a fair and orderly system that respects our laws, the humanity of immigrants and refugees, and our nation’s aspiration to be a welcoming nation. (See Dan Restrepo’s article in Foreign Policy on the connections between U.S. foreign policy and migration from Central America and the region). 

The following is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

The Biden administration and the Democratic majority are going big and changing lives. On immigration, they are unwinding Trump’s cruelty, keeping promises, working to stand up fair, humane and functional systems, and pressing forward on legislation supported by three quarters of the American people. 

Republicans are trying to make the uptick in the arrival of children seeking safety and refuge a ‘crisis’ in hopes of undermining the Biden immigration agenda. President Biden and Democrats recognize the responsibility of governance is on their shoulders given the post-policy status of the GOP and that Republicans’ so-called contributions to governance seem to consist of whitewashing Trump’s record, lionizing Dr. Seuss, defending the manhood of Mr. Potato Head, and demonizing vulnerable kids fleeing violence.

We’re the United States of America. We can do this.