The moral bankruptcy of Biden's immigration policy
a (simple) case for why it's worse than under Trump
Nativist. Biggott. Xenophobe. Racist. Cruel. Inhumane.
Since the moment Donald Trump descended down the escalator at Trump Tower to announce his candidacy for president, choosing that time to capitalize on the time-honored political tradition of fear-mongering, virtually everyone with a public voice, from GOP leaders (and fellow candidates) to NPR commentators took to their fainting couches, appalled by the grotesque nature of Trump’s comments.
The general narrative was that, in stark contrast to the very humanitarian immigration policies of the Obama/Biden administration, the Trump administration would create a humanitarian crisis out of thin air.
Crescendo-ing on the infamous images of “kids in cages,” depicting the draconian Trump policy of separating children from their parents at the Mexican border, the immorality of a self-avowed protector of family values and champion of “pro-life” policies was almost comically undeniable.
But what it wasn’t was altogether new.
While fact-checking all-stars have spilled an ocean of ink dissecting the fine points of difference between Obama and Trump’s “cages” (and which images actually depict Trump’s or Obama’s immoral policies), the reality is that Trump was not the author of evil, at least in this instance.
This CNN article provides a prime example of the type of hair-splitting that is used to justify the past actions of Obama when it comes to immigration:
“A straight numbers-by-numbers comparison doesn’t provide an accurate picture of what was going on in the administration,” Cecilia Muñoz, who was a top domestic policy adviser to Obama and is now with the left-leaning New America Foundation, said in a phone interview.
She argues that Obama prioritized deporting people convicted of serious crimes and recent arrivals who had no criminal records.
“If you’re not targeting and focused on people who recently arrived, then the border is effectively open,” Muñoz said, adding: “It is more humane to be removing people who have been here two weeks than it is to be removing people who have been here for 20 years and have families.”
Trump, by contrast, she said, has rejected the policy of focusing on new arrivals and criminals and instead wants to deport as many people as possible.
In other words, because the standards of who you send back into nations whose governments and economies have been destroyed by a century of US foreign policy, you can claim moral high ground.
All rhetoric aside, President Obama deported 1.18 million people in his eight years in office. Trump, in his four years, deported somewhere north of 800,000. In Obama’s high water mark, in 2012, his administration incredibly deported over 400,000 immigrants. Whatever hair-splitting is involved, the policy of sending folks back into the very hopeless and dangerous situations we’ve created is as entrenched in US politics as taking money from oil companies and big pharma.
As a reminder, Biden’s promises (according to his website) regarding immigration were:
-Take urgent action to undo Trump’s damage and reclaim America’s values
-Modernize America’s immigration system
-Welcome immigrants in our communities
-Reassert America’s commitment to asylum-seekers and refugees
-Tackle the root causes of irregular migration
-Implement effective border screening
Instead of change, from February through August of his first year in office, the Biden Administration’s Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) combined number of apprehended or expelled a whopping 1.18 million would-be immigrants. That’s over eight months. In 2019, Trump’s high-water mark, the CBP recorded around the same number in 12 months.
It at least seems true that less-awful things are happening at the border. There are fewer child migrants and they aren’t being separated from their parents (at least as a matter of official policy). The somewhat misleading picture of CBP agents whipping asylum seekers and the Biden/Harris administration’s repetition of Trump’s talking points notwithstanding, conditions seem marginally more humane.
But the policies of a closed border and mass deportations are still alive and well.
The question particularly for Christians, is where do our views of immigration come from? Do they arise out of an allegiance to the Republican Party (secure borders at any cost)? Or the Democratic Party (secure borders at any cost while hiding intentions and effects under layers of professional jargon)? Or do they arise out of an obedience to a faith tradition that clearly teaches us to embrace the stranger in our midst?
In other words, I suppose there could be arguments made, from an explicitly Christian perspective, for the continuation of closed borders (a policy that even Ronald Reagan opposed). But the easier case to be made from our tradition is related directly to the primary redemptive event in the Old Testament, the exodus:
The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
When a schnook like Trump ignores these words we shouldn’t have been surprised. The problem is that, since Biden claims a strong Catholic faith - and seems to practice it personally - the excuses for continuing our inhumane treatment of immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers seem as insincere as they truly are.
The Boston Herald’s editorial department summed it up well:
Visions are fine, but action is better.