For all the ways Joe Biden is surprising many by taking more uncharacteristically progressive stances on domestic issues, there is one area in particular where he so far bears little significant resemblance from his predecessor.
While immigration has been an albatross around every president’s neck and there is no panacea for it, there are progressive, humane immigration policies administrations can pursue.
To be fair, President Biden ordered DHS to review Trump’s Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), commonly known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy.
On his first day in office, he sent Congress a bill creating for undocumented individuals a pathway to citizenship, signed a memorandum directing the Homeland Security secretary to protect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and an executive order repealing Trump’s Muslim ban.
In February, he issued an executive order to create a taskforce for the purpose of reunifying families separated at the US-Mexico border.
However, if the work of distinguishing his immigration policies from Trump’s is not more delineated, it could hurt the Democratic party’s chances of retaining its majority in next year’s mid-term elections.
The White House is currently back-pedaling after Democratic backlash ensued regarding the Biden administration’s decision to maintain the Trump-era cap on refugees permitted to enter the United States.
There are simply no excuses for today’s disgraceful decision.
It goes directly against our values and risks the lives of little boys and girls huddled in refugee camps around the world.
I know, because I was one.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) April 16, 2021
This does not bode well for a president with a long history of support for moderate, center-right legislation who got elected promising to return sanity to a country Donald Trump humiliated and denigrated for four years.
Completely and utterly unacceptable. Biden promised to welcome immigrants, and people voted for him based on that promise.
Upholding the xenophobic and racist policies of the Trump admin, incl the historically low + plummeted refugee cap, is flat out wrong.
Keep your promise. https://t.co/A82xYf1XpR
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) April 16, 2021
The bill with House Democrats to grant a pathway to citizenship to 11 million undocumented immigrants has been beset with cynicism lately after multiple news outlets reported the Biden White House reopened the Trump-era Carrizo Springs, Texas detention site for migrant children.
Photos of children packed into makeshift detention centers highlight the need for press access to such centers so people can see the "inhumanity" in US immigration policy. https://t.co/sSoIBYmZLK
— MALDEF (@MALDEF) March 23, 2021
“While children are in the custody of the United States government, we need to make sure they’re getting adequate care and attention.”
Watch Families Belong Together’s @JessLivMo on @AmericasVoice as she breaks down what is going on with children at the border. pic.twitter.com/UTBU4qzaMx
— Families Belong Together (@fams2gether) March 22, 2021
NBC News and MSNBC correspondent Jacob Soboroff, author of Separated: Inside an American Tragedy, stated last month:
“These are Border Patrol facilities just like the Trump administration used during separations. That’s not the facility I was in where they caged children—that facility’s closed for renovations, believe it or not, under a congressional appropriations bill—but this is the same type of punitive, jail-like facility operated by the Border Patrol agents who are there as law enforcement agents. They wear guns on their hip…that’s what this is.
“The facilities themselves are the same types of facilities, and it’s why it’s problematic we’re not able to go in and show for ourselves what it is the Biden administration says they want to change.”
In 2017, Donald Trump’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) informed 50,000 Haitian immigrants living in the United States with temporary protected status (TPS) they had 18 months to find residence elsewhere.
According to a report titled “The Invisible Wall” a coalition of immigrant rights groups authored, the Biden administration is using a controversial Trump-era public health order to refuse asylum seekers basic legal rights, and has deported more Haitian immigrants in several weeks than the Trump administration did in a year.
Remember the wall Trump promised to build that Mexico would pay for?
A month before Trump left office, 40 miles of new fencing had been built.
On the campaign trail, Joe Biden vowed to not to build “another foot” of Donald Trump’s wall.”
Last week, a federal judge granted the federal government’s request to immediately seize of 6.6 acres of private property near Mission, Texas for wall construction.
In our #nabjnahj2020 interview, @JoeBiden promised that 'not another foot of wall would be constructed" on the border. Watch our exchange: pic.twitter.com/rM9OgsYicU
— Lulu (@lourdesgnavarro) August 5, 2020
Perhaps we can cut the president a little slack what with his exemplary response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the climate emergency, the American Jobs Plan, the American Rescue Plan, and gun violence.
After all, the mess immigration was before was only exacerbated under Donald Trump.
We can’t expect Biden to clean it up in two short months, especially considering the tremendous influx of asylum seekers we didn’t see under Trump.
But it isn’t because Biden is a “nice guy.”
It’s because we still do not prosecute wealthy white employers for hiring undocumented immigrants who are enticed toward better prospects north of the border.
It’s because scores are fleeing gang violence and political strife we helped create through decades of imperialist policies.
Yet even though we should not place all the immigration woes at Biden’s feet, neither should we give him a pass.
He has a duty to do better than Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, etcetera.
Image credit: pressenza.com