tags: Press Releases

What’s at Stake for Democrats and America

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Will Democrats stand up for an America that welcomes refugees and immigrants, or aid and abet a GOP that wants to slam the door on them?

Washington, DC – Today and tomorrow, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas heads to Capitol Hill for a series of committee hearings. Secretary Mayorkas’ appearances come after the Biden administration’s release of a new border management plan and in the face of Democrats’ anxiety and Republicans’ posturing around Title 42 and the border. 

The following is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, assessing the current moment and what’s at stake:

Let’s be clear about what’s at stake. The Biden administration’s newly unveiled border plan and this week’s Capitol Hill appearances of DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas should not be viewed merely as a short-term skirmish over the future of Title 42. The bigger picture is this: Republicans want to end asylum at the southern border as a step towards severely restricting the admission of refugees and immigrants into our nation. 

Will America continue to be a nation where refugees and immigrants are welcomed, or will those in the GOP using nativism to advance their countermajoritarian project succeed in slamming the door on new Americans? Will Democrats stand up for a cruel Stephen Miller policy or for reforms that welcome refugees and immigrants in an orderly fashion?

We know where the Republicans stand. The outstanding question is whether Democrats are going to run away or lean in when it comes to defending a foundational element of the American experiment.

Republicans have a dark and fearful view of the American future. When you peel back the performative outrage and faux policy arguments, what is revealed is a party in the clutches of a movement aiming to impose its will on a multiracial democracy on behalf of a white Christian minority. With few exceptions, they want to keep out all refugees and immigrants; they want to throw out all those undocumented immigrants already here; and they want to escalate their scorched earth war against immigrants, refugees and the notion of an inclusive America. 

The GOP goal is to take power and hold onto it, one way or the other. The GOP has zero serious proposals. They only have wasteful political stunts and the blocking of long overdue legislative reforms. In fact, for most Republicans, cruelty is the point. They want to feed the hate and fear among white grievance voters and turn an ordinary set of migration dynamics into a “crisis” that threatens their primacy.  

Democrats need to stand up for a more confident and open vision of America. They cannot be complicit in letting a party so transparently hostile to a defining feature of our past and future to define the debate and force their hand. In this context, the Biden administration’s new border plan is an important proposal that offers a serious approach to process those who come to America to exercise their legal right to seek refuge in America. It is an approach that says we can manage the border with both order and justice. 

For Democrats who have been calling for more details and an operational plan, the new approach offers a set of policies and specifics to coalesce around. If critics in the party still find it wanting, then come forward with ideas on how to improve it. But they should operate from the knowledge that a confident, strong and capable America is competent enough to manage and mitigate upticks in forced migration and to process asylum refugees seeking safety in a way that respects due process and limits on who qualifies.

And let’s be real about the larger policy dimensions. Our current focus on Title 42 and the ongoing myopia over the monthly border numbers obscures the reality that 1) forced migration is escalating in our hemisphere;  and 2) America badly needs to modernize our entire immigration system. Republicans are both blocking those needed reforms and looking to prosper politically from blaming Biden and Democrats for increases in border arrivals that have posed a challenge for every administration since 1980 – including Donald Trump’s. 

In the face of these dynamics, Democrats have important choices: what type of America do they aspire to build? What values do they stand for? And will they aid and abet Republican attempts to slam the door on refugees and immigrants? Or will they stand up for an America that protects refugees and protects our borders?