Washington, DC – The Republican push to shut down the government, including over the border and immigration, is the crescendo of their relentless focus on anti-immigrant themes during the Biden administration. Meanwhile, blue states and cities are facing strains over recent arrivals and how best to navigate the political and policy cross-currents. If these immigration storylines weren’t enough, the latest ruling on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program reinforces the inadequacy and injustice of the status quo for Dreamers – among others – and demands a legislative fix. Below are five key points to come up to speed on the key – and interrelated – dynamics on immigration and the border. For more, contact email@example.com
- The GOP’s proposed approaches to the border are about cruel political theater – not policy solutions. Their push to shut down the government would even defund the very people and drug interdiction efforts they purport to care about.
- Democratic-led states and cities are addressing the political and policy strains of recent arrivals – a symptom of a larger broken immigration system Republicans have prevented Congress from modernizing.
- The latest DACA ruling is another reminder that congressional Republicans are still blocking and obstructing the larger overhaul Dreamers and our broken immigration system desperately need.
- On border and asylum policy, Republicans are seeking to block or overturn what’s working in the absence of broader immigration reform, including parole and legal immigration pathways helping to alleviate border pressures.
- All of the Republican preoccupation with immigrants is propped up by GOP political messaging that embraces falsehoods and mainstreams extremism – a brand of nativist politics that hasn’t paid off in general elections going back to 2017.
Below are more details on the above points:
The GOP’s proposed approaches to the border are about cruel political theater – not policy solutions. Their push to shut down the government would even defund the very people and drug interdiction efforts they purport to care about. House Freedom Caucus members – the far right tail that wags the House GOP dog – are calling for a government shutdown unless and until their extreme demands on immigration and the border are met. It’s a display of dizzying circular logic – while making demands on border security, their proposed shutdown would defund border security measures and efforts to combat fentanyl (which they falsely link to migrants in their political messaging).
The border and immigration policy proposals are wasteful, dangerous, and ineffective – they’re more about political posturing and messaging than real attempts at solutions.
- Republicans are re-upping key elements of the policy package known as HR2 – or the “Child Deportation Act“ as Democrats have labeled it. In May, HR2 was backed by all but two House Republicans. The bill is an amalgam of proposals to end the U.S. commitment to providing political asylum to those fleeing persecution and would make many aspects of our immigration system much worse, not better, as the White House pointed out when the House considered it in May.
- Chip Roy, one of the leading drivers of the Freedom Caucus shutdown push, is calling for building the border wall as the centerpiece of the Republican plan. Yes, more of Trump’s $15 billion border wall, which can be cut through with a $15 hand saw, and which is perfect encapsulation of Donald Trump and the MAGAfied GOP – wasteful, racist, corrupt, symbolic and not interested in real solutions.
- Others driving the shutdown are full-throated backers of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and his razor-wired floating buoys. Yet, beyond the cruelty or the dangers is the reality that, as the Wall Street Journal assesses, “Texas ‘Floating Border Wall’ Fails to Deter Migrants.”
- The bottom line is that policies merely focused on preventing people from seeking safety and opportunity haven’t worked and fuel a black market that gives us less control and orderliness. Deadly political theater – from border walls to razor-wired floating buoys – does more to create chaos and dangers than solutions, especially when combined with GOP opposition to effective alternative approaches.
Democratic-led states and cities are addressing the political and policy strains of recent arrivals – a symptom of a larger broken immigration system Republicans have prevented Congress from modernizing.
- Our immigration system needs a complete overhaul to modernize a broken and outdated set of laws and policies that need to adapt to the realities of 21st century migration and its many drivers in a manner both orderly and humane. The proof points of the broken system course throughout every aspect of the immigration and border debate – including the current focus on blue states and cities’ tensions and strains over recent arrivals.
- Unless and until we can deliver the long overdue legislative overhaul that Republicans refuse to come to the table on, then smaller-scale steps forward (think TPS, work permits, DACA, etc.) will be the best avenues forward. But they are not a replacement for a bigger fix.
- In the interim, however, our approach shouldn’t be panic or division, but rather a solution-oriented approach. That means Congress needs to deliver on the supplemental funding request by the Biden Administration to aid cities and states; and the Biden administration needs to expand the use of TPS and issue work permits as many business and labor leaders, and many other experts, advocates, and elected officials are calling for.
- See more from AV Executive Director Vanessa Cárdenas HERE and Greg Sargent of the Washington Post HERE on the way forward politically and policy-wise for blue states and cities and the Biden administration
- Also read the detailed NYTimes opinion piece from former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, “How Biden and Congress Should Fix the Immigration Crisis in Our Cities.”
- Also see the FWD.us memo, “Responding to the Increase of Asylum Seekers and Vulnerable Migrants in New York City & U.S. Cities”
The latest DACA ruling is another reminder that congressional Republicans are still blocking and obstructing the larger overhaul Dreamers and our broken immigration system desperately need. The ideological opposition to any immigration in any form that is now common among MAGAfied Republicans is preventing the rest of the country from being able to achieve solutions that fix what is repairable through legislation. Out of step politicians have left us with an out-of-date immigration system that is no match for the 21 Century world migration reality.
- On September 12, Texas District Court Judge Andrew Hanen issued another ruling that imperils the future of the popular and successful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. As AV Executive Director Vanessa Cárdenas assessed: the ruling “reinforces the inadequacy and injustice of the status quo for Dreamers, which again cries out for a legislative fix. While avoiding the worst case scenario, where DACA was ended immediately for everyone, this is a further wakeup call of the cruel limbo Dreamers and their families have to live through.”
- Hundreds of thousands of Dreamers have benefited from DACA’s protections and opportunities to build lives, careers, and families in the country they call home. The program has not just strengthened these recipients’ futures, but the country as a whole. But due to Republican legal challenges, the future of DACA is tenuous while younger Dreamers are barred from applying into the program entirely.
- The solution hasn’t changed – we need legislation that delivers Dreamers the opportunity for citizenship and to fully participate in the country they have long called home. Delivering for them is a rare point of consensus across the American political spectrum and it’s time for Congress to give Dreamers the opportunity they deserve and have earned.
- The fundamental logic of the Republicans is to make people who are eligible to work legally ineligible; to take away – or ignore – whatever legal status people have and to drive more people into the underground. That is the exact opposite of what the American people say they support in poll after poll going back decades. Instead of finding ways to get immigrants in the system and on the books, Republicans’ approaches would expand illegality.
On border and asylum policy, Republicans are seeking to block or overturn what’s working in the absence of broader immigration reform, including parole and legal immigration pathways helping to alleviate border pressures. While the GOP obstructs on the legislative modernization we need, they also are trying to end successful remedial programs that are working to cope with the problems created because of GOP obstruction:
- 21 Republican states are seeking to eliminate the humanitarian parole programs that are alleviating border pressures. These include pathways for legal admission for select individuals from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela that help divert traffic away from our borders; offer alternatives to a dangerous trek to the southern border; and ultimately help reunify families.
- Continuing the trend of recent years, most Republicans, a party that used to embrace the distinction between so-called “legal” and “illegal” immigration, have lined up strongly against a legal immigration program that is working, giving the U.S. greater control over the immigration process, while being highly targeted at countries in our hemisphere facing unique challenges.
- Whether it is Ukrainian allies, Afghan allies, or pathways for those fleeing communist, socialist, authoritarian, or collapsing states, the MAGAfied Republican Party opposes legal avenues for migration or refugee admissions, even when lives are at stake.
- The GOP insists on helping create and politicize the chaos that results from a broken system – and then uses said chaos and dysfunction as an excuse for inaction and obstruction. It is circular and Machiavellian. It is a political strategy, not a border security or immigration management strategy.
All of the Republican preoccupation with immigrants is propped up by GOP political messaging that embraces falsehoods and mainstreams extremism – a brand of nativist politics that hasn’t paid off in general elections going back to 2017.
- Republicans’ mainstreaming of white nationalist conspiracies and falsehoods around “invasion” and “great replacement” theories continues, despite the connection to real world violence in El Paso, Buffalo, Pittsburgh and elsewhere.
- America’s Voice’s ongoing tracking has identified more than 500 examples of elected Republicans or GOP campaigns that employed the white nationalist “great replacement” conspiracy theory over the last year – this comes after 700 examples of Republicans echoing these white nationalist conspiracy theories in the ‘22 election cycle.
- Unfortunately, the GOP presidential primary is only escalating this mainstreaming of dangerous ideas: For example, Ron DeSantis is making calls for deadly violence at the border in his stump speech and his pledge to leave threats “stone cold dead” is featured in DeSantis ads and fundraising
- This escalates the trend from the past several cycles, when the GOP has invested heavily on nativist political messaging, despite the fact it has largely failed to deliver in general elections going back to 2017.
According to Vanessa Cárdenas, America’s Voice Executive Director:
“We can either step up as a country and address the current challenges from a place of solutions, orderliness, and embracing our values. Or we can allow the naysayers and their fear, disinformation, and zero-sum mentality to rule the day. Americans see immigrants and their desire to make America their home as a valuable resource to be managed, while Republicans view immigrants as a threat to be targeted with violence and anger. The current immigration moment is a result of years of inaction where grandstanding has triumphed in politics over grand bargains and compromises.
Despite the demagoguery on this issue, there is a path forward if the state and federal government work together. Ultimately, what we need is to overhaul and reform our immigration system to legalize people who are here and provide legal pathways for future migration based on our needs so that we have greater control over who is here, who is coming, and how we are moving forward as a country together.”