Republicans return to immigration policy as medium-term strategy | American immigration

FYears after Republicans adopted Donald Trump’s nativist and often racist playbook in an attempt to retain control of Congress, the party is once again putting volatile immigration politics at the center of its mid-term election strategy. -mandate.

From the US-Mexico border to the US Capitol, in courtrooms and courtrooms, Republicans are hammering the issue. At the forefront of the debate is a once arcane public health order invoked by the Trump administration in March 2020 ostensibly as a way to control the spread of the coronavirus along the southwestern border.

Seizing on a decision by the Biden administration to lift those “Title 42” border restrictions, Republicans have sought to portray Democrats as pursuing an extremist immigration agenda that they say has cost the nation its very sovereignty.

The provocative and often misleading messaging campaign was on full display when Alejandro Mayorkas, the Homeland Security Secretary, testified on Capitol Hill.

For more than eight hours, over two days, Republicans bombarded Mayorkas with accusations and insults, demanding that he accept blame for what they described as dangerous and dire conditions along the 2 border. 000 miles with Mexico.

“We’re all really border states now,” Congressman Steve Chabot of Ohio said grimly.

In another tense exchange, Colorado’s Ken Buck said his constituents believed Mayorkas was guilty of treason and deserved to be impeached – something conservatives have vowed to pursue if they win the House.

“What you just said – it’s so deeply offensive on so many different levels, in so many different ways,” Mayorkas replied, visibly upset.

Mayorkas forcefully defended the administration’s handling of the border and said it was up to Congress to act.

“We inherited a broken and dismantled system which is already under pressure,” Mayorkas said. “It is not designed to manage current levels and types of migration flows. Only Congress can solve this problem.

The hearings laid bare tensions within Democratic ranks over Biden’s immigration actions, particularly on Title 42.

For months, immigration advocates and progressives have lobbied Biden to lift Title 42, which gives authorities the power to quickly deport migrants trying to enter the United States instead of allow them to apply for asylum and stay in the country while their application is assessed.

“You basically do crisis-driven policymaking,” said Claudia Flores, an immigration policy expert at the left-leaning Center for American Progress think tank. “And it’s just not effective.”

When it comes to public policy, Flores said, it was dangerous to use a public health order to control immigration. Not only is the rule insufficient to solve problems at the border, she added, but it has had “serious humanitarian consequences” for asylum seekers.

But some vulnerable Democrats have called on Biden to hold off on lifting the order, fearing it could be a political liability ahead of a tough election cycle. Agreeing with Republicans, they expressed concern that the administration does not have a comprehensive plan to deal with the expected increase in the number of migrants making asylum claims when the order is released. lifted at the end of May.

“It’s not good for Democrats in November,” said Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar, a Democrat facing a progressive challenge for his border district seat. Fox News Digital.

“You know, talking to some of my fellow Republicans, they say, ‘We can’t believe the White House is giving us this narrative. We can’t believe they are hurting the Democratic candidates in the November election.

In his testimony, Mayorkas argued that his department had a plan to deal with the expected influx of migrants. He repeatedly directed lawmakers to a six-point plan, released ahead of the hearings, that outlined a more aggressive effort to enforce immigration laws after the public health rule was lifted. It also included efforts to partner with nonprofit organizations that assist migrants in the United States while their cases are being processed and to work with countries in the region to address the “root causes” of the migration.

“When the Title 42 public health order is lifted, we expect migration levels to increase as smugglers seek to take advantage of and take advantage of vulnerable migrants,” the memo reads.

That did little to appease Republicans and some Democrats.

“It’s clear to me that the federal government is unprepared — not even close,” Arizona’s Greg Stanton, a border state Democrat, said during the hearing.

A general view shows the US-Mexico border fence at Sasabe, Arizona. Photograph: Reuters

Biden worked to reverse many of the hardline policies that were central to Trump’s “zero tolerance” approach to immigration. The number of migrants trying to cross the border has increased sharply.

Biden has argued that the only way to fight migration is at the source — an ambitious plan that will likely take years to bear fruit. In the short term, his administration faces acute operational and political challenges.

During a meeting at the White House last week, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus urged the president to stand firm behind the decision to end the public health order.

“Title 42 is due to end on May 23,” California Congresswoman Nanette Barragán, vice president of the CHC, told the president, while urging her to “not support legislation to extend the end date.”

As the outlook for legislative action dims ahead of midterms, the caucus is urging Biden to use his executive authority to deliver on some of his promises to Latino voters on immigration, the environment, health care and justice. ‘economy. They argued that it’s both good politics and good politics, like Latino Support for Democrats is fading amid worries about the economy and inflation.

“After four years of traumatic, xenophobic and inhumane immigration policies imposed on our most vulnerable communities, we have a duty to provide them with the protection and support they and their families desperately need,” said Democratic MP Adriano Espaillat, from New York. said after the meeting.

Fears over Title 42 are just one part of the Republicans’ message. Republicans have sought to link illegal immigration to other powerful themes like election fraud and criminality. Allegations of undocumented migrants voting in large numbers have been refuted several times. Studies have shown that migrants commit crimes at lower rates than native-born citizens.

Republicans have long used immigration as a political weapon — with mixed results. In 2018, they lost the House in an election spree fueled in part by furor over Trump’s hard-line policies that separated migrant children from their parents. In the same year, they extended control to the Senate.

The political winds have reversed. Republicans are strongly favored take the House, and possibly the Senate. The national mood has soured on Biden and the Democrats as worries about the economy and inflation deepen.

But even as economic discontent dominates political debate, polls suggest immigration remains a pressing issue, especially for Republicans. Four in 10 Americans, and nearly 70% of Republicans, say they are “very” worried about illegal immigration, according to a Gallup survey.

During a tour of the border in Texas last week, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy chastised a reporter for asking about his false claim that he never urged Trump to quit. after the January 6 uprising – comments captured by audio recording.

“After all that, is that what you want to ask?” he said. “I don’t think that’s what the Americans are asking for. I think they want to know what’s going to happen here and how we’re going to secure the border.

Democrats blame Republicans for stoking fear by obstructing reform. It’s been nearly a decade since Congress seriously considered immigration reform, a bipartisan plan that was derailed by House conservatives.

“Let me tell you why our fellow Republicans don’t want to do their jobs — why they won’t work with us or vote for any of the bills we’ve introduced in the House,” the Texas congresswoman said. Veronica Escobar. “It’s because the status quo works for them.”

“They love Title 42,” she said, saying it “helps them push this xenophobic rage machine that they think will help them get elected and re-elected.”

It’s unclear how the administration plans to proceed if a court decides it can’t lift Title 42. Biden declined to say whether he would sign legislation delaying the removal, which is being reviewed by a bipartisan group in Congress.

Vanessa Cardenas, deputy director of America’s Voice, a pro-immigration group, said Democrats needed to be more aggressive in defending their vision for reform. Keeping the title 42, she said, would not only play into the hands of Republicans, but would be a big disappointment for voters, especially Latino voters who helped Democrats win in 2018 and 2020.

“In an election season where margins matter, in states like Arizona, Nevada and Georgia, where the presence and vote of the Latino community can make a difference, it’s really important that Democrats are able to articulate a vision that contrasts with the other side,” Cardenas said.

Referring to the hardline Trump adviser, she added, “A Stephen Miller-Lite approach to immigration is not going to motivate the base.”

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