February 22, 2021


“President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats proposed a major immigration overhaul [last] Thursday that would offer an eight-year pathway to citizenship to the estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally… The bill Democrats introduced Thursday would immediately provide green cards to farm workers, immigrants with temporary protected status and young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children. For others living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, the plan establishes a five-year path to temporary legal status. If they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfill other basic requirements, then, after three years, they can pursue citizenship.” AP News

“Immigration enforcement in the U.S. would be more targeted under President Joe Biden than under his predecessor, with authorities directed to focus on people in the country illegally who pose a threat, according to guidelines released [last] Thursday… ICE [will] primarily apprehend and remove people who pose a threat to national security, committed crimes designated as ‘aggravated’ felonies or recently crossed the border.” AP News

In January, Biden “ordered a ‘pause’ on all [border] wall construction… Biden, seeking to fulfill a pledge not to build ‘another foot,’ gave his administration two months to determine how much it would cost to cancel contracts and whether money could be spent elsewhere.” AP News

See past issues

From the Left

The left is generally supportive of both the bill and Biden’s immigration policies.

“Opponents claim that [a pathway to citizenship] would reward lawlessness and serve as an incentive for a new round of undocumented immigration. As a former federal prosecutor and the head of an organization dedicated to accountability for human rights violations, I find these fears unfounded. A program of broad legalization would be in keeping with the long-established concept of a statute of limitations in criminal law

“A statute of limitations precludes criminal prosecution after a set period of time. Other than for the most serious federal crimes, U.S. law puts that limit at five years. That limit reflects the practical difficulties of collecting evidence and mounting a defense years after an alleged offense has occurred. It also reflects that it would be unfair to disrupt people’s lives long after they’ve allegedly committed an offense…

“The government is expected to address crimes within a reasonable time or to let things lie. No one seriously claims that this endpoint for criminal liability encourages more crimes. Most deportations of immigrants involve civil rather than criminal proceedings, but similar equitable considerations come into play.”
Kenneth Roth, Los Angeles Times

“The fact is that the undocumented are not going away. They are not going to ‘self-deport,’ as Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) famously suggested when he was running for president in 2012. They perform necessary jobs, they pay all kinds of taxes, they are at least as law-abiding as full-fledged citizens, and they are woven into the fabric of communities from coast to coast. In all but the formal sense, they are Americans. If they were all to somehow disappear tomorrow, the nation would suffer from their absence…

“Rather than nibble at the edges of the problem, Biden calls for a global solution — analogous to the sweeping amnesty President Ronald Reagan engineered in 1986. Whatever you think about the new president and his team, no one can accuse them of thinking small. Republicans are going to ridicule the idea and will likely declare it dead on arrival. But they would subject a more modest proposal to the exact same treatment. Biden is right to start by demanding the reforms the country actually needs, rather than make some sort of tentative opening bid that leaves the situation of most resident noncitizens unaddressed.”
Eugene Robinson, Washington Post

Regarding the new immigration enforcement guidance, “As matters stand, the U.S. government doesn’t have enough immigration judges and attorneys to evaluate asylum claims, and existing Border Patrol stations and other facilities are inadequate for processing applicants during a pandemic. People who are fleeing persecution and violence deserve refuge, but not every border crosser qualifies for asylum. Determining who is eligible takes effort and resources…

“Under Trump, the federal government failed to build up its own capacity to manage migration surges and arbitrate individual cases… The Biden administration needs to buy time, communicating to potential new migrants that the border is still controlled and keeping the CDC order [to expel any border crossers] in place for now. Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, is also warning against false rumors that ‘the doors are open’ in the United States. At the same time, the U.S. has to make better preparations for how to handle those who do arrive at the border.”
Juliette Kayyem, The Atlantic

“Over the past three-plus decades, the federal government has spent tens of billions of dollars constructing more than 700 miles of border fencing. It has been a bipartisan exercise, beginning in the Clinton years, ramping up in the Bush era, continuing apace in the Obama era, and shifting into warp speed during Trump’s presidency… Every day the barriers stay up, the damage to people, ecosystems, and communities continues to accrue…

“[A 2005 law] granted the president, through the secretary of Homeland Security, broad powers to bypass environmental laws through waivers to expedite border fence construction… Existing federal laws prohibit the destruction of Indigenous graves, for instance. But an O’odham burial ground called Monument Hill was blasted during construction that had been fast-tracked with a waiver. The Endangered Species Act exists to protect animals like the lone jaguar recently spotted in Arizona’s Sky Islands—except that law was waived to allow fencing to go up in the mountains, cutting off the big cat from much of its habitat and food supply…

“To give the [border wall] freeze finality, Biden and Democrats in Congress would have to dismantle the law that made it so easy to construct so much fencing in the first place.”
Tim Murphy, Mother Jones

From the Right

The right is critical of both the bill and Biden’s immigration policies.

The right is critical of both the bill and Biden’s immigration policies.

“Besides being an insult to everyone who spent the time, money, and effort to immigrate legally and become naturalized citizens, it’s an open invitation to every other prospective border jumper to head for the border with all due haste… previous efforts at immigration reform at least included a few sweeteners in the form of enhanced border security to tempt a few Republicans into supporting them. This bill has nothing of the sort. It’s just straight-up open amnesty and the Democrats are clearly saying it’s their way or the highway. How they expect to get sixty votes in the Senate for something like this is a mystery.”
Jazz Shaw, Hot Air

“The plan excludes requiring employers to use the E-Verify system, which screens the employment eligibility of a potential new hire. Even the laxest mandatory E-Verify provisions, which would exempt current hires from the screening requirement, are not included in the legislation. While Biden’s advisers tout the plan’s increased penalties for employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens over Americans, the annual prosecutions for employers and businesses tend to be exceptionally low…

“Even as at least eight million illegal aliens hold jobs in the U.S. labor market, only 11 employers and no businesses were prosecuted in 2018. Even fewer, just three of those employers received prison time… A weekly survey conducted by Rasmussen Reports shows that more than seven-in-ten likely voters agree that mandatory E-Verify should become law to protect the U.S. labor market. This includes 74 percent of Hispanic likely voters. Less than 20 percent of likely voters oppose mandatory E-Verify.”
John Binder, Breitbart

“Immigration offers Mr. Biden an opportunity to claim a political victory that has eluded his predecessors. But he’s going to have to work with Republicans and risk disappointing the left to get it… The better political path is to look for small wins such as modernizing the farm guest-worker program and legalizing Dreamers, both of which have drawn GOP support. This week Mr. Biden said he’s open to piecemeal bills, which is recognizing political reality.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

The ‘piecemeal’ amnesties would not be small. The pieces of the larger bill that Democrats are likely to push separately include the Dream Act (for illegal immigrants who came as minors), the Promise Act (for illegal immigrants granted ‘Temporary’ Protected Status), and the Agricultural Workers Adjustment Act (‘adjustment’ meaning amnesty). Based on CBO and other estimates, these three ‘piecemeal’ measures could amnesty some 3.5 million people, maybe more. That’s more than the 2.7 million amnestied by the notorious 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act…

“The millions benefitting from those piecemeal amnesties would get green cards immediately and be able to apply for citizenship in three years, instead of the usual five years for most green-card holders. I think many immigration hawks exaggerate the role of political calculation in the Left’s support for de facto unlimited immigration, but not here — the three-year citizenship plan is a transparent attempt to create new voters, especially in Texas and Florida, to help drag Kamala Harris over the finish line in 2024.”
Mark Krikorian, National Review

Rep. John Katko (R-NY) writes, “From pausing deportations, to halting border wall construction and ending the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy, the president slapped an ‘open’ sign on our border – during a global pandemic. Chastising commonsense policies that maintained the integrity of our territorial borders, while implementing sweeping executive actions to roll back these effective programs and policies, has reinvigorated irregular migration…

“We don’t have to guess why they are coming. They have told us why. The very migrants who are traveling toward our southwest border and are poised to enter the country illegally have said in recent media interviews they were encouraged by Biden’s rhetoric and relaxing of Trump era policies… Jeh Johnson, former secretary of Homeland Security under President [Barack] Obama, said that during his tenure, 1,000 apprehensions a day was a ‘bad number.’ According to CBP, family unit apprehensions have more than quadrupled in just the past two weeks and are trending upward…

“Since the start of the Biden administration, more than 1,500 migrants have been released into border communities without any information on whether they had COVID-19… We are calling on President Biden to put politics aside, reevaluate his border and immigration policy rollbacks, and consider the consequences of any further actions that adversely impact border security and immigration policy.”
John Katko, Fox News

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