Biden insists he will end the ‘exhaustive war on immigration’ with Congress, making the border safer and giving 11 million migrants a path to citizenship
- President Joe Biden said it was time to end the “exhausting war” on immigration
- He called on lawmakers to approve his immigration plan that will enable the path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants
- That plan will be difficult to get Republican support
- So Biden asked Congress to look at a compromise that would give Dreamers citizenship and help farm workers
President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that it was time to end the ‘exhaustive war’ on immigration and called on lawmakers in both sides to come together on the matter.
“Let’s end our exhausting war on immigration,” he said in his joint address to Congress.
Biden asked lawmakers to approve the comprehensive immigration plan he proposed, which includes an eight-year path to citizenship for most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, lifts restrictions on family-related immigration, worker visas, expands security updates at the border.
He appealed to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle with his pitch.
“If you think we need a safe border, pass it,” he said, unpacking the GOP’s concerns.
“If you believe in a path to citizenship, pass it on,” he said, addressing the Democrats.
“If you really want to fix the problem – I sent you a bill, pass it on now,” he said.
President Joe Biden said it was time to end the “exhausting war” on immigration
Biden called on Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform as the number of migrants crossing the border via the Rio Grande has increased
Republicans have criticized Biden for reversing Donald Trump’s tougher immigration policies, claiming this has sparked a wave of migrants across the border.
But Biden needs their support to pass an immigration proposal, given the tight Democratic majority in the House and the 10 GOP votes he needs to advance legislation in the Senate.
Given the legal troubles, Biden pushed for more targeted measures, one that would ensure a path to citizenship for the Dreamers, migrants brought to the US by their parents as young children; allow agricultural workers already present in the country to obtain legal status; and relaxation of visa restrictions for seasonal agricultural workers.
Those proposals have been accepted by the House with bipartisan support.
“If Congress doesn’t approve my plan, then at least let us pass what we agree on,” the president said.
Democrats gave him a standing ovation and there was applause from the Republicans, who largely held back.
Biden also praised Vice President Kamala Harris, whom he was in charge of diplomatic efforts on the southern border.
“I have absolute confidence that she will get the job done,” he said.
There was applause in the room to the credit of his vice president, but it is unclear whether that was only from Democrats or if Republicans were on board.
Republicans have criticized Harris for not yet visiting the southern border.
Harris plans to visit Central America in June. In addition, she held a virtual meeting with the president of Guatemala on Monday and virtual community groups from the country on Tuesday.
US Border Patrol agent registers immigrant families after crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico
Biden’s immigration pressure comes amid a wave of migrants on the southern border.
According to Customs and Border Patrol data, the number of immigrants apprehended along the southern border has increased from 96,974 in February to 168,195 in March.
The last time the one-month arrests were that high was in March 2001. In addition, the Dutch DPA arrested 18,656 unaccompanied minors at the southern border in March, a record since at least October 2009 and doubling from February.
Republicans see the problem as one they can use to get in the way of voters in the midterms of 2022.
Biden said immigration reform would be one of his top priorities as president, but it has fallen by the way given the COVID pandemic and its focus on rebuilding the US economy.