Biden’s Dual Immigration Moves: Asylum Restrictions Tightened, Citizenship Offered

Biden's Dual Immigration Moves Asylum Restrictions Tightened, Citizenship Offered

Over the last two weeks, President Joe Biden has set major limits on immigrants seeking asylum in the United States while also granting prospective citizenship to hundreds of thousands of people without legal status who are already in the nation.

The two acts — the first to assist illegal immigrants in the United States and the second to prevent others from coming at the border — provide the president with an opportunity to address one of his reelection campaign’s most significant vulnerabilities.

Americans give Biden low marks for his handling of immigration and prefer the approach of presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, whose administration implemented hardline policies such as separating immigrant families and has now proposed the largest deportation operation in US history if reelected.

While the White House has stated that its recent moves are not intended to offset each other, the election-year policy changes provide something for those who believe border enforcement is too soft as well as those who support assisting illegal immigrants in the United States. They are consistent with the White House’s overall policy since Biden entered office, which has included a variety of programs to limit illegal immigration while also assisting those who are already in the country.

Trump and prominent Republicans have chastised Biden for record-high numbers of border crossings, with some claiming without evidence that Biden is facilitating a so-called “invasion” to influence the election. Biden’s decision to tighten asylum procedures could curb border crossings.

Meanwhile, assisting long-term residents in obtaining citizenship may alleviate concerns from immigration groups and liberal members of Biden’s Democratic coalition who rejected the increased border restrictions announced earlier this month.

An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll conducted in March indicated that only roughly three in ten Americans approved of Biden’s immigration policy. A similar percentage approved of his handling of border security. According to the same poll, about half of American citizens believe Biden is extremely or very responsible for the present crisis at the US-Mexico border, while roughly one-third believe Trump is extremely or very responsible.

Rep. Tom Suozzi of New York, a moderate Democrat who won a special election in February to replace expelled Republican Rep. George Santos, applauded Biden’s new action. Suozzi’s campaign was mainly focused on immigration and New York City’s challenges to absorb thousands of immigrants bused in from the United States-Mexico border.

Suozzi highlighted his first election as mayor of Glen Cove, New York, in 1994, and his role in organizing facilities to assist groups of immigrants waiting on street corners for day-laborer jobs, which he said continues to impact his perspective on the subject.

“The reality is, those same guys that were on the street corners in 1994, today own their own businesses, own their own homes and their kids went to school with my kids,” Suozzi stated during a reporter’s call. “We need to take action. “People are sick of it.” Van Callaway, a hairstylist from Mesa, Arizona, who uses they/them pronouns, voted for Biden four years ago but was upset to see the president was making it more difficult to seek asylum. They were also unconvinced that the president’s plan to help legalize spouses married to US citizens would be implemented.

“I wish that it was an easier process so people who need to be here could be here,” Callaway, who is 29, said. “And I wish more love and acceptance was surrounding it. And greater empathy. I believe that if there was more empathy for immigration as a whole, the world would be a lot better.”

The Department of Homeland Security believes that Biden’s latest action will protect approximately 500,000 spouses of US citizens, as well as 50,000 children of noncitizen parents. According to the White House, people receiving benefits have lived in the United States for an average of 23 years.

Most new entrants at the US-Mexico border will be unable to apply due to Biden’s previous unilateral move. The White House does, however, acknowledge that it has taken various additional steps to make it simpler for new immigrants to enter the nation. With congressional Republicans “refusing to address our broken immigration system,” the administration “has taken action to secure our border and keep American families together in the United States,” according to White House spokesperson Angelo Fernández Hernández.

This includes launching a program last year that allows people from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela to visit the United States if they have a financial sponsor, pass a background check, and fly into a U.S. airport, which roughly 435,000 people had utilized by the end of April. The administration also extended H-2 temporary work visa programs and created processing centers outside of the United States, notably Guatemala and Columbia.

Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson accused Biden of “trying to play both sides.”

And Trump criticized Biden’s asylum decision as “all for show,” implying that the president is “giving mass amnesty and citizenship to hundreds of thousands of illegals who he knows will ultimately vote for him.”

Callaway stated that determining who to vote for this year will be difficult, “a real hard conundrum.” They are concerned about Trump’s second-term plan, but also angry by Biden’s response to Israel’s assault in Gaza, and they are hesitant to support a third-party candidate who is unlikely to win. More stringent border rules would be another blow to Biden, they added.

“They’ll tell you what you want to hear, but they’re not often going to follow through on it,” Callaway said. “It feels like the things they follow through on are fueled by prejudice and this weird sense of victimhood.”

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