Biden Makes Immigration Pitch But Will Congress Act?

joe-biden-joint-sessions-speech
U.S. President Joe Biden, center, speaks during a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. Photographer: Jim Watson/AFP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

By NAN Staff Writer

News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Thurs. April 29, 2021: President Joe Biden hit the right notes last night in the few moments he focused on immigration in his speech to the joint session of Congress. He ended that pitch with the statement: “Congress should act.” But will they?

Biden’s talking points on the hot button issue included all the pieces that caused many immigrant voters to surge to the polls for him last November.

From a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants as well as for DREAMERS; farm workers and those with Temporary Protected Status in the country, including Haitians, to the issue at the border.

But so far Biden’s comprehensive immigration bill has yet to be taken up in the Democratically controlled Congress. Why? Biden himself killed the momentum when he rolled back the Donald Trump rule to allow immigrants waiting in Mexico to enter the US and apply for asylum.

That translated to many, to mean America was wide open to immigration again, which led to the border crisis we are in now.

But Biden is also right. Congress should pass immigration reform to secure the border – as it is a major problem.

The bill he sent to Congress has a lot of options to do this. It includes supplementing existing border resources with technology and infrastructure; funding for training and continuing education to promote agent and officer safety and professionalism and cracking down on criminal organizations.

As he stated last night to both the Senate and the House: “If you actually want to solve the problem – I have sent you a bill, now pass it.”

Both sides – Republicans and Democrats – should be jumping at this chance. They are not because both sides know, it’s no easy fix.

They also should, like the President said last night, “pass legislation this year to finally secure protection for the Dreamers – the young people who have only known America as their home.”

As well as for “permanent protections for immigrants on temporary protected status who come from countries beset by man—made and natural made violence and disaster (and a) pathway to citizenship for farmworkers who put food on our tables.”

Bills for Dreamers and Farm Workers have already passed the House. It is time for the Senate to take it up and vote.

Congress also should be acting to help stem the tide of immigrants creating the crisis at the border. US $310 million in aid proposed by VP Kamala Harris and the administration is a drop in the bucket and will help somewhat if it gets to real people and can help create and fund small businesses and jobs.

But unless the Congress acts and changes the rules to allow asylum seekers to apply in their home country only and not at the southern border, we will keep on seeing these surges.

Harris can lead all the diplomatic efforts she wants, and President Biden can continue to exude as much “confidence” as he wants.

But the reality is – without Congress acting – these are all band aids on a wound that has been oozing for decades and is turning cancerous.

As the President summed it up: “For more than 30 years, politicians have talked about immigration reform and done nothing about it. It’s time to fix it.”

The question now is – will they?