It’s urgent that Biden see beyond the border

Following an executive order issued by President Joe Biden to close the border to asylum seekers after daily unauthorized crossings reach more than 2,500 per week, one would like to think that what would follow is some positive announcement that benefits undocumented people who have been living in the United States and contributing to its progress for decades, without being legalized.

The order is a political decision motivated by pressure Republicans have brought on Biden over the issue of the border and the presence of thousands of people seeking asylum in the interior of the country. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, has made immigration his stalking horse this electoral cycle and Biden will face him in a debate on CNN June 27, so it is better to go in prepared to say that he is doing something.

This especially after the second failed attempt in the Senate to advance a restrictive bipartisan plan that assigned billions of dollars to the border, but also undermined asylum laws. Republicans did not support the bill, in order to appease Trump, because approving it would remove their weapon of war against Biden on immigration.

Biden also does not want undocumented immigrants’ crossings to rise to more than 8,000 per day in the middle of this electoral contest, as occurred at the end of 2023.

In other words, one can understand the political reasons that lead Biden to issue the executive order, because polls show that people in the United States are not happy with the way in which the president has managed the border issue.

But that doesn’t mean that the decision is right and fair, even though it has exceptions in the case of unaccompanied minors, victims of human trafficking, and those who obtain an asylum appointment through the CBP One app.

The decision also has the potential to alienate voters who have supported Biden and the Democrats, and are awaiting some type of immigration relief through executive action in the runup to the election, while a Republican cabal in Congress blocks any legislative solution. Measures that legalize, for example, Dreamers and the undocumented spouses of U.S. citizens, among others.

Especially because the measures issued by Biden are reminiscent of those taken by Trump when he was president. On top of being criticized by legislators and progressive groups, they were slowed and, in many cases, stopped in the courts.

Biden invoked Section 212(f) of the immigration code to order the expedited deportation of migrants to Mexico when there are more than 2,500 daily crossings in one week. This is similar to Title 42. Trump used section 212(f) to justify his disastrous and racist Muslim ban that, ultimately, was stopped in the courts.

That is why, in this space, we have reiterated that there should be a balance. And if, for political and electoral reasons, Biden believes it is necessary to issue an order of this type, he must know that the anti-immigrant sector he is trying to pacify will not support him at any rate. He then has swing voters who, according to polls, support balanced solutions combining border control with measures to regularize undocumented immigrants. And a base that also supports balanced solutions, not only ones centered on the border.

That base, where Latino voters reside, needs something that really gets them excited in order to go to the polls, because just advising them of the danger Trump poses to our democracy will not cut it. This occurred in 2012 when, in the middle of his re-election campaign, Barack Obama issued the executive order that created DACA, stopping the deportation and conceding work permits to the Dreamers. Some positive migration measure that benefits certain sectors of undocumented people is a good strategy to mobilize voters.

In his speech, Biden said, “I have spoken about what we need to do to secure the border. In the weeks ahead — and I mean the weeks ahead — I will speak to how we can make our immigration system more fair and more just.”

On immigration, it’s long been time for some good news that will enthuse voters for whom this issue is vital due to family ties, empathy, or recognizing the importance of immigrants to our economy and other matters. It’s urgent that Biden see beyond the border.

The original Spanish version is here.


  • Maribel Hastings

    Maribel Hastings is a Senior Advisor and columnist at America’s Voice and America’s Voice Education Fund. A native of Puerto Rico, Maribel is a graduate of the University of Puerto Rico with a major in public communications and a history minor. She worked for La Opinión, and became La Opinión’s first Washington, D.C. correspondent in 1993. Maribel has received numerous awards, including the 2007 Media Leadership Award from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) for her coverage of the immigration debate in the U.S. Senate.

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