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Democrats have demanded redress for the country’s failing immigration system as a stick against Republicans in the 2020 campaign. Elect us, the argument said, and we will stop the cruel treatment of migrants at the border and enforce place sustainable and humane policies that work.

A year into Joe Biden’s presidency, however, action on the issue has been hard to come by and there is growing consternation privately among some party members that the Biden administration cannot find the right one. immigration balance.

Publicly, that’s another story. Most Washington lawmakers are largely withholding language, unwilling to criticize their leader over a polarizing topic that has created divisions within the party – especially as concerns grow over whether Democrats can hold on to power. ‘next year.

It’s a difficult balancing act, said Douglas Rivlin, spokesperson for America’s Voice, an immigration reform group. Especially when Republicans are relentless in their negativity towards the president, even a little friendly fire can be a challenge.

“It’s difficult, but they have to do it,” he said. “They are going to face the voters next year, all the people on the Hill. Biden isn’t, they are. And they need to be clear that they’re pushing Biden to be the Democratic president we’ve elected, rather than being afraid of trouble because politics are tough.

Democrats pointed to the recent House approval of a massive White House-backed spending bill that would expand work permits and other less ambitious immigration provisions. When Biden took office, he promised a path to American citizenship for millions of people in the country illegally. Democrats say the measures in the spending bill are enough to show the party will not back down on the immigration issue during the mid-term of next year.

“I don’t see this as the president’s fault per se or… these challenges we face today, falling only on the president’s shoulders,” said Democratic Representative Veronica Escobar, who represents a district in El Paso, Texas, across the border from Juarez, Mexico. “It’s a collective obligation that we have and and I think Democrats have solutions and we have to build on them.”

His fellow Democrat, Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio, dodged a question when asked if House members in swing neighborhoods would be forced to flee Biden in 2022, saying “I’ll wait for the political talks.” .

But Castro added that the party had done all it could do on immigration this session, given Senate rules that prevented broader legislation on the issue from moving forward with the required minimum of 60 votes in this room.

“Right now the Democrats have control of the White House, the Senate and the House and we have pushed as hard as we can with the numbers we have in the chambers to get eviction protections, the work permits, driver’s licenses, travel abilities, “Castro said.

Former Democratic Representative Beto O’Rourke, who recently announced he would run for governor of Texas, was one of the few Democrats to put the border front and center, moving almost immediately to the US border. -Mexican after announcing that he was running. , where he suggested the White House was doing his party a disservice.

“It’s clear Biden could do a better job at the border,” O’Rourke said in an interview with KTVT TV in Dallas-Fort Worth. “It is not a sufficient priority.”

Like most of the main Democrats, O’Rourke will have to counter the Republican-driven narrative that an increase in the number of people crossing the border illegally this year has reached “crisis” levels. The campaign of outgoing Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott accused O’Rourke of supporting Biden’s “open borders” policies and funded billboards along the border with O’Rourke’s face appearing. transforming into that of the president.

Nick Rathod, Rourke’s campaign manager, sees “the neglect, I think, on the part of Democrats at all levels, not just the Biden administration, in genuinely engaging with these communities” along the way. frontier.

“It kind of created a vacuum. What we want to do is fill that space.

But immigration is a complex problem, and no administration has been able to address it. And Biden is trapped between competing interests of being compassionate while dealing with migrants coming to the country – illegally – in search of a better life.

The administration said it was focusing on the root causes of immigration and working to find long-term solutions that make migrants want to stay in their countries of origin. They passed regulations to adjudicate asylum claims more quickly so migrants don’t wait in limbo, and they’ve worked to reduce the huge backlog of cases.

Most importantly, Biden spent much of the last year overturning widely regarded as cruel Trump-era rules that clamped down on asylum seekers, gutted the number of refugees allowed in the United States, and then shut down the entire U.S. border on behalf of COVID-19.

Despite that effort, Biden has faced a slew of criticism from progressives and immigrant advocates who say he is still using too much of the inhumane policies of the Trump era.

One of the most criticized is the “Remain in Mexico” program, where migrants are sent awaiting resolution of their immigration applications across the Mexican border to makeshift refugee camps. It was suspended after a judge ruled it was inappropriate, but according to court documents, the Biden administration is waiting for final agreements with Mexico to start over.

“We reject a system where people facing life and death consequences are forced to navigate a complex legal system on their own – in a language they do not speak and in a culture they may not be. regulars – ”the Catholic Legal Immigration Network said in a statement.

Another is a provision, known as Title 42, which gives federal health officials the power during a pandemic to take extraordinary measures to limit the transmission of an infectious disease. The White House has appealed a judge’s ruling that ended the settlement.

The administration used this provision to justify the deportation of Haitian migrants who entered Texas. After viral images surfaced of U.S. Border Patrol agents on horseback using aggressive tactics, Biden’s team took heat from even the most loyal of allies.

Republicans are hammering on border security, intending to keep the issue in the headlines. The issue remains a high priority for some voters. A CNN poll earlier this month showed that 14% of Americans identified immigration as the number one problem facing the county, behind the economy and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The U.S. Border Patrol reported more than 1.6 million encounters with migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border from September 2020 to September 2021, more than quadruple the number from the previous fiscal year and the highest annual total never recorded.

The number of meetings had dropped in the previous 12 months to around 400,000 as the pandemic slowed global migration. But the rebound is now higher than the previous record set in 2000, according to US Customs and Border Protection data. The tally includes both deportations when migrants are immediately turned away and apprehensions when detained by US authorities, at least temporarily.

The US system is still ill-equipped to handle such a crash, although career immigration officials have warned of an increase to come. Border crossings are temporary places of detention not intended for long-term care. This is a huge logistical challenge, especially when it comes to children crossing alone and requiring higher standards of care and coordination between agencies.


Associated Press editors Alan Fram and Farnoush Amiri contributed to this report.

The Independent Gt

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