President Joe Biden

President Joe Biden delivers remarks in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on July 15, 2021 in Washington, D.C.

(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Biden Reportedly Open to Attacking Immigrant Rights to Secure Israel/Ukraine Aid

The Biden administration is "just openly willing to bring back Title 42 in order to get money for their well-funded genocide happening in Gaza?" asked one immigration rights advocate.

Faith-based and civil society groups on Tuesday condemned reports that the Biden administration, in ongoing negotiations with Republicans over a military aid package, has signaled a willingness to expand attacks on immigrant rights in exchange for the funding.

As CBS News reported, talks between the administration and Republican negotiators including Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) are ramping up regarding a $100 billion funding package President Joe Biden has requested from Congress, which would include military aid for Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has been on Capitol Hill this week, "engaging with negotiators in the Senate," according to CBS, and the White House has reportedly offered a number of concessions on U.S.-Mexico border policy to secure the funding, including support for:

  • New legal authorities for border officials that would allow them to expel migrants without processing their asylum claims, effectively reviving the Trump-era Title 42 program that paused U.S. asylum protections;
  • An expansion of "expedited removal," which allows the deportation of migrants who do not apply for asylum or do not pass their asylum interviews; and
  • Expanded migrant detention for people whose asylum claims are being processed.

The White House's reported openness to the policies comes days after the Congressional Progressive Caucus said it would not support a deal that trades military aid for a Republican-backed anti-immigrant package.

Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU, said the White House is reportedly considering support for policies which would have "outraged" Democrats if they'd been proposed by former Republican President Donald Trump.

"Expedited removal basically means fake due process for immigrants," said Romero. "Expanding the detention system and fast-tracking deportations contradicts President Biden's campaign pledges. These proposals will not offer a real fix to our immigration system."

The administration, he added, appears to be searching for "a quick fix at the border," where migrant crossings have surged in recent months.

"Even if these policies are enacted, we will see surges at the border with increased human suffering—as we haven't addressed the root causes or systemic failures of our immigration system," said Romero. "We urge Congress and the White House to abandon these proposals and do the hard work to advance sensible, humane, and effective solutions to border management. But if the president's advisers are looking for ways to suppress turnout and enthusiasm among young progressives and immigrant voters, then this will do the trick."

Jeremy Konyndyk, president of Refugees International, agreed that increasing deportations and detentions would "make the border more disordered, not less," with migrants who have endured long and grueling journeys to the U.S. turned away.

Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy director for the American Immigration Council, was among the critics who pointed out that the U.S. cannot "just shut the border" without the cooperation of Mexico.

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and Rep. Jesús "Chuy" García (D-Ill.) were among those who noted that accepting the GOP's demands for anti-immigration policies would represent "a total abandonment" of Biden's campaign promises.

The request for more military aid comes as the Biden administration is increasingly isolated on the world stage in its support for Israel's war in Gaza, in which more than 18,600 Palestinians have now been killed and where witnesses on Wednesday reported that the Israel Defense Forces executed displaced women and children, and babies. The U.S. was joined by just nine other countries Tuesday in rejecting a call for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire at the U.N. General Assembly; 153 countries supported the cease-fire.

"President Biden campaigned on reversing all [these] BS policies from the Trump administration," said Erika Andiola, communications director for the Young Center. "Now they are just openly willing to bring back Title 42 in order to get money for their well-funded genocide happening in Gaza?"

On Tuesday, more than 375 religious leaders and faith-based organizations wrote to the White House, urging the president to reject Republicans' anti-immigrant proposals as part of the supplemental aid package, noting that families with children make up "an increasing proportion" of asylum seekers arriving at the border in recent months.

"We face real challenges at the border that demand a coordinated and well-resourced response," wrote the groups, including the American Friends Service Committee, Jewish Activists for Immigration Justice, and Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice. "The asylum restrictions under consideration would do nothing to support that needed effort. Deterrence-based policies at the border have repeatedly proven ineffective."

"Certainly, they do not prevent those fleeing danger from seeking life-saving protection at the border, and they fail to make the asylum process more efficient, orderly, or humane," the letter reads. "Attempting to leverage the safety, freedom, and wellbeing of some of the world's most vulnerable people for unrelated foreign policy objectives is a violation of our call to honor and uphold the inherent worth and dignity of every individual, no matter their country of origin or the circumstances they face."

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