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Joe Biden Has an Immigration Shitshow on His Hands

September 30, 2021
Tim Miller on Biden's Immigration Sh*tshow

[Editor’s note: Watch Not My Party every week on Snapchat.]

This is “Not My Party.” Brought to you by The Bulwark. There’s a nightmarish mess on the border. A record surge in immigrants hoped a kinder, gentler president would welcome them with open arms.

[President Biden] Immigration built this country. We’re a nation of immigrants and proud of it.

So why are we now seeing images of thuggish border guards and hearing the administration say things like this?

[Vice President Harris] Do not come. Do not come.

Well, the truth is political and geopolitical forces have left Biden in an impossible position while he struggles to chart a more moderate path.

To understand the scope of the clusterfuck on his hands, here are three distinct immigration challenges to think about. First, we have the southern border.

Generally, these immigrants have been coming from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. But that has been compounded by a recent influx from Haiti, a country that has dealt with devastating earthquakes, gang violence, a fuel crisis, mass poverty, and oh yeah, the president just got assassinated.

Now, of all those at the border, some are trying to sneak across illegally while other are actually up to border guards and claiming asylum. So what’s that mean? Asylum only applies to people who are coming because they’re persecuted in their home countries due to their race, religion, politics, ethnicity, or social identity.

Proving that is hard, so processing these cases is complicated and it’s backing up our immigration courts.

Secondly, we have refugees coming from abroad. Like the Afghans we discussed a few weeks, these future Americans are fleeing their imperiled homelands and the U.S. gets to decide how many we’re able to take.

Lastly, we have the undocumented immigrants already here in America. These are people who have crossed the border illegally or overstayed their visas and are hoping for permanent residency or citizenship.

So how’s a president supposed to deal with all this? The politics are easy if you’re Trump and your message is everybody get the hell out, nobody welcome ever. You know, except the whites who aren’t from “shithole countries”.

Biden’s task is more complicated. He has a good instinct to be compassionate, but also cautious on immigration

But in trying to execute that, he’s getting trashed on all sides.

On his right, the whole Republican Party has remolded in Trump’s xenophobic image. My old party used to sound like this.

[President Reagan] Rather than putting up a fence, why don’t we work out some recognition of our mutual problems? Make it possible for them to come here legally with a work permit and then while they’re working, they pay taxes here.

And that’s been replaced by this.

[President Trump] They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists. We’re going to build a wall.

So you’d think they might like the fact that Biden has kept some of Trump’s hard line policies. Like Title 42, an emergency order that allows us to throw out immigrants purely over health concerns. And just like Trump, he’s booting some asylum seekers before they even get a court hearing. But the Trumpy right just wants to own the libs, so they don’t give a fuck about all that. To them, Biden is an open borders zealot. Tucker Carlson and others are now obsessed with pushing the new racist hotness, white replacement theory. The crackpot idea that Biden has a secret plan to replace the white majority in the country with new brown voters.

And he’s catching a lot of flack on the left from members of his own party who have taken some pretty hard line stances too.

Remember the 2020 Democratic primary? Almost all the candidates were for decriminalizing illegal border crossings. But not Joe. That policy would likely lead to an even larger surge of immigrants at the border and it’s wildly unpopular with voters.

And this week, a bunch of blue check mark libs pushed two false stories that the White House had to respond to. One about border guards with whips. Those are some horse reins, city slickers.

And another about Biden sending Haitians to Guantanamo. 

He’s also been attacked for something that he is in fact doing, deporting Haitians who had weak asylum claims.

So yeah, POTUS is in the middle of a shit storm. The best way out might just be, brace yourself, libs.

Compassionate conservatism.

Do the popular and human stuff first. Continue to raise the cap on how many refugees we’re taking in and push for citizenship for DREAMers at long last. Shame the nativist Republicans for standing in the way of these fundamentally American policies. But also do what’s necessary to get the border under control. Which might mean at times upsetting the left and all of us bleeding hearts who wanna bring in as many people as we can.

We’ll see ya next week for more “Not My Party.”

Tim Miller

Tim Miller is The Bulwark’s writer-at-large and the author of the best-selling book Why We Did It: A Travelogue from the Republican Road to Hell. He was previously political director for Republican Voters Against Trump and communications director for Jeb Bush 2016.