Some Democrats Are Concerned About Biden’s Lax Immigration Policies

Written by Martin Walsh

OPINION
This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion


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Democrats previously bragged about their plans once it became certain they would control both Congress and the White House.

Now when it is obvious that hard work is needed for governing and the party’s far-left faction has started pushing their interests, some Democrats are backing off and urging caution.

In a new report from Politico, which is titled, “‘Recipe for disaster’: Dem fears mount over immigration overhaul,” it appears even the Left is worried about President Joe Biden’s lax immigration policies.

Democrats in Texas and other states where immigration has been a lightning rod issue are growing increasingly uneasy that the White House is walking into a political buzz saw in its zeal to unwind hard-line Trump administration policies.

Biden has not yet implemented expansive policy changes. The vast majority of migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border are still being turned away. Deportations are still taking place and there’s still no pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

But the softer rhetoric and modest changes announced so far by the Biden administration — such as admitting some migrants who have waited in Mexico for months and announcing he would halt deportations — raise the prospects of a new influx of migrants entering the country.

There’s already an uptick in migrants heading to the border and some have crossed and been released in some communities already grappling with the pandemic, a strained health care system, and high unemployment.

“The way we’re doing it right now is catastrophic and is a recipe for disaster in the middle of a pandemic,” said Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, one of the three Texas Democrats who represents part of the border most affected by spikes in migrant arrests and arrivals.

“Our party should be concerned. If we go off the rails, it’s going to be bad for us,” Gonzalez said. “Biden is going to be dealing with a minority in Congress if he continues down some of these paths.”

The worries are most acute along the Texas-Mexico border, where lawmakers in that area are warning the Biden administration isn’t going to stop a large number of migrants from entering the country simply by saying “now is not the time to come” — a repeated message in recent weeks — while they roll back former President Donald Trump’s policies.

And any perceived crisis at the border could ultimately cost those Democrats their seats in 2022.

Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar said he’s been raising concerns since before Election Day that sudden moves reversing Trump’s approach would result in an increased number of migrants at the border.

“I said, ‘Hey, we don’t want the wall, but when it comes to the other issues, we gotta be careful that we don’t give the impression that we have open borders because otherwise, the numbers are going to start going up. And surely enough, we’re starting to see numbers go up,” Cuellar said.

In Arizona, there’s a feeling that reform needs to happen in a measured way, said Roy Herrera, an adviser to Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly and a lawyer who represented Biden’s campaign in the state.

“While there’s some concern, most Arizonans know they have two senators who want a solution to the immigration problem that is balanced,” Herrera said. “They want to provide some relief to folks who are undocumented but they also want a secure border so that there’s not an increase and flood of migrants we can’t handle.”

Republicans are already attempting to capitalize on Biden’s recent announcements on immigration, calling it an embrace of “open borders” and “blanket amnesty.”

A group of 12 Senate Republicans, including Sens. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Thune, last week urged Biden to reassess his administration’s “reckless” immigration actions, as they see his latest immigration actions as harmful for economic recovery, public safety, and public health.

“In a nation where everything seems closed, our border is now open,” they wrote in a letter.