Thursday, January 20, marked one year since President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
To mark the occasion, immigration advocates aired their criticisms of the President for failing to deliver on promises he made to immigrant communities during the 2020 campaign.
“President Biden has failed on nearly every front to deliver on his promises to protect immigrant communities,” read a statement from United We Dream, the nation’s largest immigrant youth-led advocacy group. “Instead, he has built upon an immoral and inhumane immigration system that will forever be a part of his legacy. To date, over 1.8 million individuals have been deported or expelled since President Biden took office.”
“Thousands more languish in detention centers where COVID cases have spiked over 500 percent, and millions remain vulnerable to deportation without a pathway to citizenship. All the while, the Biden administration was in the courts yesterday defending its use of Title 42,” said Cynthia Garcia, United We Dream’s national campaign manager for community protection. “President Biden continues to knowingly and willfully keep the lives of millions of immigrants and Black and Brown people on the line. He cannot wash his hands clean of these injustices. He is responsible for every detention, every deportation, every family separation that has happened since he stepped foot in office.”
TPS Alliance, a nationwide coalition of immigrants with Temporary Protected Status —which allows individuals to immigrate to the United States and remain here when circumstances, typically a natural disaster, make living in their home countries unsafe— also lamented the Biden administration’s failure to achieve much in its first year.
Despite our efforts throughout this past year, migrant families were left to endure another year of mistreatment, & ultimately, another year of disappointment. @JoeBiden & Dems still have an opportunity to make things right! #ResidencyNOW #TPSJusticehttps://t.co/QY6iLtB60O
— Nat’l TPS Alliance (@TPS_Alliance) January 20, 2022
“We believed that today would be a day where we would commend President Biden for demonstrating much-needed leadership in defense of immigrants from an unrelenting law, politics, and policy that continue to imperil our rights and endanger our lives,” read TPS Alliance’s statement, signed by Mardoel Hernandez, a TPS holder in Maryland. “Unfortunately, after one year in office, the Biden Administration has yet to fulfill its campaign commitments to migrant families. Despite fulfilling our half of the bargain, and despite our efforts throughout this past year, migrant families were left to endure another year of mistreatment, another year of racist rights deprivation, and ultimately, another year of disappointment.”
“The administration started very strong and announced a lot of things as on Inauguration Day or shortly thereafter that many of us took as a positive signal of things to come,” said the American Immigration Council’s policy director, Jorge Loweree. But “the issues at the border seemingly made the administration reticent to do much of anything on immigration for fear of the potential consequences, which has been very disappointing.”
“I never would have predicted this White House, within Year One, would be expelling Haitians to a failed state,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, referring Biden’s move last September to expel Haitian asylum seekers from a camp in Texas and send them back to Haiti.
In September the Biden administration said it was denying entry to asylum seekers from Haiti and other countries due to health risks posed by the COVID pandemic, relying on Title 42 of the U.S. Code, first implemented by President Trump in March 2020, which gives federal agents the authority to deny entry for health reasons.
“We kept hearing Title 42 is going to be taken down in late 2020, or at least rumors of that and they were making arrangements,” said Sharry. “But they didn’t stick with it. They didn’t follow through. Instead of going forward, they decided to go back and take the heat.”
“I think it’s trying to placate those who hate you instead of deliver for those who back you,” he added.
A few members of Congress also weighed in on the issue of Biden’s failed immigration promises.
“If we look at the whole picture, we’ve made some progress as policy goals: the plans to boost refugee admissions, the halt to workplace raids, ending enforcement of the public charge,” said Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL), among those who led the failed effort to pressure Senate Democrats to disregard Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough’s guidance on the budget reconciliation and include immigration reform in the Build Back Better Act.
“But of course, I remain alarmed by the number of Trump’s worst policies that are still in place—Title 42 and Remain in Mexico,” García said. “This isn’t Remain in Mexico as we know it. It’s an expansion—the Biden administration policy expands the nationalities subject to forcible returns.”
“In 2022, when immigration policy and border management will be focal points of national debate, the Biden-Harris administration cannot run away from immigration policy,” said Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who led the push in the Senate to include immigration reform in the Build Back Better Act. “Instead, it is the time for them to work in lockstep with Congress on any and all options to achieve inclusive and humane reform.”