By JONATHAN J. COOPER (Associated Press)
COTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Almost instantly after he walked into the Oval Office on his first day as president, Joe Biden started rolling again his predecessor’s immigration insurance policies, which he had assailed all through the 2020 marketing campaign as harsh and inhumane.
Rather a lot has modified in three years.
Biden, now sounding more and more like former President Donald Trump, is urgent Congress for asylum restrictions that might have been unthinkable when he took workplace. He’s doing it beneath strain not simply from Republicans however from Democrats, together with elected officers in cities hundreds of miles from the border who’re feeling the results of asylum seekers arriving within the United States in file numbers.
With the 2024 presidential marketing campaign shaping up as a possible rematch between Biden and Trump, immigration has moved to the forefront as one of many president’s greatest potential liabilities. Biden, seeking to neutralize it, has already embraced a sweeping bipartisan measure nonetheless being negotiated within the Senate that might increase his authority to place strict new limits on border crossings.
“If that bill were the law today, I’d shut down the border right now and fix it quickly,” Biden mentioned final weekend.
The invoice’s future is unsure, and Trump has weighed in in opposition to it, however Biden’s Democratic allies have grown impatient for the president to behave.
Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs, a liberal Democrat, just lately referred to as on the president to name up the National Guard, and when he declined, she did it herself on the state’s expense.
“Every Arizonan should know we are taking significant and meaningful steps to keep them safe, even when the federal government refuses to,” Hobbs mentioned in her state of the state deal with in January.
The inflow has strained social providers in cities together with New York, Chicago and Denver, that are struggling to shelter hundreds of asylum seekers with out housing or work authorization. Images of migrants with nowhere to go tenting out in public have dominated native newscasts.
Nine Democratic governors from all throughout the nation despatched a letter final week to Biden and congressional leaders pleading for motion from Washington “to solve what has become a humanitarian crisis.”
States and cities are spending billions to reply however are outmatched by the file tempo of latest arrivals, wrote the governors of Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and New Mexico.
They requested for cash to assist with their speedy wants and a dedication to work towards modernizing immigration legal guidelines.
“It is clear our national immigration system is outdated and unprepared to respond to this unprecedented global migration,” the governors wrote.
Trump, in the meantime, is desirous to rekindle the passions that the border fueled throughout his profitable 2016 marketing campaign, when his vow to construct a wall alongside the southern border with Mexico grew to become maybe his most acquainted rallying cry.
“It has been a message that has resonated not just with Republicans or Democrats, but across the country, because now even those liberal cities, those blue cities, those blue mayors, they’re saying we can’t handle the crisis anymore and give us help,” mentioned Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s first 2016 marketing campaign supervisor. “It is a fundamental shift in thinking over the last eight years on the issue.”
Trump lamented over the weekend that his border message didn’t resonate when he ran for reelection in 2020. He mentioned it was as a result of he’d accomplished such a great job controlling the border that he “took it out of play,” although on the time voters have been largely centered on COVID-19 and the pandemic had dampened job prospects for migrants.
“Literally we couldn’t put it in a speech,” Trump mentioned at a marketing campaign rally Saturday in Las Vegas. “Nobody wanted to hear about the border. We had no border problem. But now we can talk about the border because it’s never, ever been worse than it is now.”
As president, Trump separated kids from their households on the U.S.-Mexico border as an effort to discourage individuals from crossing in a coverage that was maligned as inhumane by world leaders, U.S. lawmakers and even Pope Francis. When he ran for workplace the primary time he referred to Mexican immigrants as “rapists and criminals” and this marketing campaign has gone farther, saying migrants are “ destroying the blood of our country.”
In the top, complete deportations have been larger beneath the primary time period of President Barack Obama, who enacted enforcement priorities just like Biden’s, than beneath Trump. That was due partly to a scarcity of cooperation from many cities and states whose leaders opposed Trump’s immigration insurance policies.
By the top of Trump’s administration, the U.S. had accomplished greater than 450 miles (720 kilometers) of latest wall development alongside the two,000-mile (3,145 kilometer) border. Much of the development was in areas the place there had already been some type of barrier.
An immigration deal in Congress that had been within the works for weeks is now crumbling largely as a result of Trump is loath to offer Biden a win on immigration, a difficulty he desires to hammer as his personal as he seeks a return to the White House, and his supporters in Congress are following his lead.
White House spokesperson Angelo Fernandez Hernandez mentioned House Republicans beneath Speaker Mike Johnson are blocking Biden’s efforts to enhance border safety.
“It’s long past time for Speaker Johnson and the House GOP to join President Biden and work across the aisle in the best interests of the majority of the American people, who back President Biden’s approach,” Fernandez Hernandez mentioned in a press release.
Frustration amongst voters has escalated.
Wayne Bowens, a 72-year-old retired actual property agent in Scottsdale, Arizona, mentioned he’s disgusted by each Biden and Trump’s current border strikes. Biden is barely altering his tune as a result of he’s anxious about dropping, he mentioned, and Trump is hoping to dam the Senate deal to assist him win.
“Ukraine, Israel. People are dying. And yet other people are thinking, ‘How many votes can I get if I play this right?’” mentioned Bowens, a Republican who dislikes each main candidates however will seemingly vote for Trump except a viable third-party candidate emerges. “It’s become a very disgusting world.”
Immigration stays a serious fear for voters within the 2024 election. An AP-NORC ballot earlier this month discovered that these voicing issues about immigration climbed to 35% from 27% final yr. Most Republicans, 55%, say the federal government must concentrate on immigration in 2024, whereas 22% of Democrats listed immigration as a precedence. That’s up from 45% and 14%, respectively, in December 2022.
Arrests for unlawful border crossings from Mexico reached an all-time excessive in December since month-to-month numbers have been launched.
The Border Patrol tallied slightly below 250,000 arrests on the Mexican border in December, up 31% from 191,000 in November and up 13% from 222,000 in December 2022, the earlier all-time excessive.
The state of affairs on the border makes Biden susceptible with two voting teams he’ll have to win — Latinos and college-educated white Republican girls, mentioned Mike Madrid, a California-based Republican strategist who has labored to defeat Trump and has a guide on Latino voters set for launch this summer time.
Biden has no selection however to embrace harder border safety and limit asylum, despite the fact that it can anger progressives in his base, Madrid mentioned.
“It is his single biggest problem,” Madrid mentioned. “And it is the single biggest opportunity, because I think if he can put the Republicans on defense he’s in a very commanding position to win reelection.”
Associated Press journalists Jill Colvin in Manchester, New Hampshire; Erin Hooley in Chicago and Anita Snow in Phoenix contributed.