Biden Continues Trump’s Anti-immigrant Policies

Our response: Open the borders! No human being is illegal!

By Malik Miah

At 11:59 PM EDT on May 11, Title 42 of the Immigration law expired. The code was enforced for three years during the coronavirus pandemic. Title 42 allowed the government to stop and expel migrants from entering the country without any due process.

Since its enforcement, millions of political and economic refugees have  languished in Mexico or other countries in horrific conditions.

 Both Democratic and Republican administrations have carried out inhumane treatment of migrants. The rhetoric by Republicans has been openly racist. But the results under the Biden administration have been just as cruel.

The end of Title 42, however, means little for those trying to enter the country. “In the hours leading up to Title 42’s termination,” reported the May 12  Los Angeles Times, “migrants continued to gather near ports of entry on the southern border with Mexico, hoping for a new opportunity to enter the U.S. as confusion over the imminent policy changes and their impact persisted.

“Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas issued a warning Thursday that ‘starting tonight, people who arrive at the border without using a lawful pathway will be presumed ineligible for asylum.’ He noted that 24,000 Border Patrol agents and officers had been deployed to work alongside ‘thousands of troops and contractors, and over a thousand asylum officers to help enforce our laws.’

“’Do not believe the lies of smugglers,’ Mayorkas said in a statement. ‘The border is not open. People who do not use available lawful pathways to enter the U.S. now face tougher consequences, including a minimum five-year ban on re-entry and potential criminal prosecution.’”

Mexico has helped Biden in his anti-immigrant efforts.

“The agency did not detail the reasons for the security drill, the second in a week,” continued The Times. “As part of the exercise that spanned several lanes of the port of entry, agents threw what appeared to be tear gas canisters. A few steps away on the Mexican side, a group of National Guard elements held their own drill.

“A Customs and Border Protection spokesperson said this week that there are no plans to close ports of entry.

“Mexico’s National Guard has been positioned along the southern layer of border barrier in recent weeks, and Thursday was no exception. Tijuana police also seemed to more closely monitor activity at ports of entry.”

Who are those people seeking entry on the southern border? Many are not from Central America. The issue of migration is global.

It can take years to become a naturalized citizen in the United States   assuming you are granted a “green card” or temporary legal status (special employment  visas, for example, in high tech).  

But the US economic sanctions against countries such as  Cuba (a seven-decade embargo),  Venezuela  and Nicaragua, along with Iran, Syria, and many other countries causes tens of thousands of people to flee for survival.

“People from Senegal, Cameroon, Bangladesh, Iran, Russia and Brazil were among those who waited in seats under tented white tarps for rapid COVID-19 tests and travel itineraries. Migrants pay their own way, though the Regional Center for Border Health helps supplement if needed,” added the LA Times.

“I.B., a Peruvian man who asked to be identified by his initials out of concern for his immigration case, said he had flown to Mexicali, crossed the border and turned himself in to border agents. He was detained for six days before being released in Yuma….

“Guri Singh, 21, said he fled India after experiencing religious discrimination as a Sikh. His parents, who are legal residents in England, couldn’t get him a visa. So, he said he paid smugglers $50,000 to fly to El Salvador, then took buses to the U.S. border.”

“Singh said he’d never heard of Title 42 and knew nothing about the impending changes to border policy. He just knew he had a flight to the Bay Area and would be at his cousin’s home by 3 p.m. Friday.”…

“A 21-year-old man, 19-year-old woman and 8-year-old boy — orphaned siblings from Ecuador — walked to the end of the line next. The man, who asked to be identified by his initials, J.Z.G., winced in pain. The backs of his shoes were folded under his heels. Something had gotten inside one shoe and cut his foot.

“He said they had flown to Nicaragua and walked from there to the border because of political instability back home.

“We had to emigrate,” he said.

Historical record

The US policy on immigration historically has been based on national origin and ethnic discrimination. The early settlers were from England, Scotland and northern Europe.

In the 1800s there was a de facto open door to people from northern  Europeans (Caucasians). Asians, Africans and other nonwhites were only accepted as workers as Chinese men learned in California. They built the railroads but could not bring in women or other family members. Each state decided immigration policy. The first major federal law was passed by Congress in 1882— the Chinese Exclusion Act.

In 1924 Congress passed a sweeping immigration law. A key plank codified quotas for legal immigration based on people already living in the U.S. by national origin as of the 1890 census. There were few Asians or other nonwhites (except former slaves and indigenous peoples) living in the country.

In 1965, as a result of the impact of the anti-colonial revolution and a powerful domestic civil rights movement, the government changed its policy regarding quotas for Asians and Africans. The new quota system made it easier for  family reunifications.

When Obama was elected as the first biracial Black president in 2008, the Republican Party first decided it needed to become more open to minorities as demographics were changing. In should be noted that Obama deported more people than any previous president (Obama was known as “Deporter-in-Chief”) under pre-Title 42 regulations. Biden was his Vice President

But  in 2016 with the rise of  the  white fear mongering  backlash led by Donald Trump, a lifelong New York City Democrat who decided to run for president as a Republican, popularized the once fringe view that “others” were taking over the country.

Trump declared anti-immigrant as his main campaign issue. His slogan, “Build the Wall” became a chant at his rallies. Every Republican politician who runs for office rants about foreigners  (undocumented and legal) replacing “Americans.”

Biden’s policy

Most pro-immigration rights groups had hoped that the  Biden government would be better than Trump’s. It quickly become clear that while the rhetoric is more friendly, the practice is more similar than not. The immigration issue for Biden is not about justice and human rights.

He  pledges enforcement of current immigrant laws, and  supports stricter rules, a better border wall and making it harder for immigrants  to stay. Biden is quietly building a 30-foot wall in southern California which locals oppose on both sides of the border.

The end of Title 42 did not lead to the chaos at the border as predicted because the Biden team has been implementing a strict removal and denial of immigrants for two years.

Title 8, a law in place since 1940, means keeping new immigrants from applying for 5 years if they don’t follow the new rule. It includes registering in a third country and setting up an appointment by using a special mobile phone app.

The US already has over 11 million unauthorized people, according to the Migration Policy Institute. The new harder border restrictions will not stop people entering as has been true for decades.

The big agricultural enterprises and other manufacturing and businesses, including in California, seek cheap labor and will hire them, knowing they won’t fight for their rights for fear of deportation. Scare mongering the public will not change that.

Open the borders! No human being is illegal!

Open borders—South, North and other ports of entry—should be U.S. policy.

It would apply to all refugees from economic crises caused by US sanctions, wars and by climate changes. The refugees should rapidly be given court dates, temporary work permits and allowed basic services. History shows that refugees like all immigrants create more wealth than they take in their transition to permanent residency and citizenship. Most immigrants are willing to do jobs that many native-born citizens won’t. Their children get educated and generally are successful. Democrats and the Republicans know these facts.

An Open Border policy is the solution few will acknowledge since it begins with human rights not cruelty and scapegoating immigrants for capitalist society’s problems.

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