Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda, associate professor of Chicano and Chicana studies at the University of California
The pieces are starting to fall into place, and then I think we’re gonna going to see the public saying: ‘OK, they solved the problem. They fixed the problem.’
“The pieces are starting to fall into place, and then I think we’re going to see the public saying: ‘OK, they solved the problem. They fixed the problem,’” Noorani said.
Frank Sharry, founder and executive director of America’s Voice, an immigrant rights organization, also said it was unclear whether the Biden administration was prepared for the influx of migrant children. Sharry said that while he was on a number of calls during the transition to talk policy, “never once did anybody from the outside or on the inside say, ‘We’re expecting a huge increase in unaccompanied minors.’”
“Was anyone’s hair on fire saying there’s gonna be a huge increase? I didn’t hear it from outside, from the inside, from experts. I just didn’t hear it,” he said.
Sharry noted that focusing on building an infrastructure to get children out of Customs and Border Protection custody and to sponsors and families quickly and safely has “slowed their progress” on immigration but praised the administration for not reverting “to cruelty and deterrence” of migrants.
Biden faces other immigration hurdles beyond what is happening at the border.
Hinojosa-Ojeda said it has been unclear who is in charge of addressing the different border situations, saying the Biden administration hasn’t been able to “gain control of the narrative.”
In his first days in office, Biden was quick to begin unraveling many of Trump’s immigration policies. Biden signed executive orders to stop construction on the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, established a task force to reunite parents and children who were separated under Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy, and introduced a comprehensive immigration legislation package to Congress.
House passes immigration bill, DHS Sec. Mayorkas says southern border closed, so now what?
House passes immigration bill as immigrants coming to America in 2021 surges once again, and Alejandro Mayorkas says the southern border is closed.
Staff Video, USA TODAY
“They have yet to come back and regroup and capture that momentum that they had on Day One, in terms of a vision and a message,” Hinojosa-Ojeda said.
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Several Republican lawmakers have said they want to see the border under control, as well as border security as more of a priority, before moving on legislation. Some Republicans are also calling on Biden to reestablish some Trump-era policies, such as the Migrant Protection Protocols.
“Instead of upholding his promises, President Biden decided it would be better to make a hard-left turn on his immigration agenda,” Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., wrote in a Fox News op-ed last week.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called the border influx a “humanitarian crisis,” a term the Biden administration has refused to use. Some lawmakers along the border, including Texas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar, also have criticized Biden for how he has handled the surge, pointing to the strain on border communities.
While the Biden administration has focused on getting the border under control, experts and activists say they want to see Biden now move forward in other ways. Among them are pushing through immigration legislation in Congress and focusing on other efforts, such as extending Temporary Protected Status – which offers temporary status to people from countries that are often facing armed conflict or natural disaster – to people from countries like Haiti and Cameroon.
Frank Sharry, founder and executive director of America’s Voice, an immigrant rights organization
It seems to us that our best chance to pass legislation that’s going to legalize millions is if we get it included on the next infrastructure bill as it goes through budget reconciliation.
“We’re not going to get immigration reform passed by focusing on the kids in the cages,” Hinojosa-Ojeda said. “We’re going to need to now engage the American imagination.”
He said support for immigration change is dwindling as more attention is focused on the border.
Sharry also supports the Biden administration turning its focus to getting an immigration bill passed in Congress.
“They’ve had some fits and starts but an overall positive record in the first 100 days, but what happens in the next 100 days is what’s going to be decisive on immigration policy,” Sharry said. “It seems to us that our best chance to pass legislation that’s going to legalize millions is if we get it included on the next infrastructure bill as it goes through budget reconciliation.”
Hide caption WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 15: An L.E.D. truck displaying messages expressing concern over the continuing mass deportations of Black immigrants drives past the White House…
WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 15: An L.E.D. truck displaying messages expressing concern over the continuing mass deportations of Black immigrants drives past the White House prior to a #BidenAlsoDeports rally on February 15, 2021 in Washington, DC.. The rally was held to raise the alarm over continued mass deportations of Black immigrants. Advocates say that unraveling the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) does not protect Black immigrants and that the US government is using Title 42 to weaponize the Covid19 public health crisis by â€œexpellingâ€/ deporting Black immigrants. Groups who rallied included Haitian Bridge Alliance, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, African Bureau for Immigration and Social Affairs (ABISA), Black Immigrant Collective (BIC), Black Immigrants Bail Fund, Migration Matters, and Refugee African Communities Together. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for UndocuBlack Network) Jemal Countess, Getty Images for UndocuBlack Net
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The Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which are separate from Biden’s comprehensive immigration legislation package, passed in the House of Representatives in March. But they have yet to be brought up in the Senate, and there are concerns of getting bipartisan support for the bills.
Some activists are urging lawmakers to include a pathway to citizenship for those living in the United States without citizenship in the infrastructure bill.
Democrats are trying to drum up support for immigration legislation, and some advocates are optimistic of getting an immigration law passed this year.
“Democrats understand that they’re going to be judged not by their effort but by their results, and they know this,” Sharry said. “They feel the pressure, they want to produce. And quite frankly, if they use every ounce of their power, they will get it done.”
Reach Rebecca Morin at Twitter @RebeccaMorin_
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11:09 am UTC Apr. 29, 2021
1:53 pm UTC Apr. 29, 2021