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Immigration Issues Explode; Threaten Democrats' Majority
Peggy Sands Orchowski -- Immigration Expert Peggy Sands Orchowski -- Immigration Expert
Washington, DC
Tuesday, May 3, 2022


Immigration Issues Exploding! Threaten Democrats' Congressional Majority

by Margaret Orchowski

Six major immigration events went viral in the press and media last week (April 25-May 1). It is becoming clear that immigration will be a major election focal point in the 2022 midterm election and most likely the 2024 presidential elections as well. How the Democrats handle exploding immigration issues in the next weeks and months will affect directly the party's ability to hold on to their slim majorities in the House and Senate.

Massive surges of migrants crossing mostly unvetted across the U.S. southern border in the past year is the breaking point. Since President Biden was inaugurated in January 2020 some two million migrants mostly unvetted, have crossed into the U.S. from Mexico after the administration lifted almost all restrictions imposed during the Trump administration.  Last summer, tens of thousands of Haitians were documented wading unimpeded across the border and camping in filthy conditions alongside a Texas bridge until the border patrol was ordered to pick them up in busses and release them into the country. Only about a quarter were deported. 

Now at the end of May, millions more migrants from all around the world – almost 20,000 a day – are expected to enter unimpeded. That's because on May 24, migrant COVID restrictions imbedded in Article 42 of the immigration regulations, will end as promised by President Biden.  No plan to contain the expected surge has been presented to date, although the Biden administration claims "to have a plan and the border is closed".  

Last week things exploded.  On Monday April 25 the press was full of stories about the death of a Texas National Guardsman who died trying to rescue illegal border crossers caught in a turbulent river flow.

On Tuesday April 26, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments about the constitutionality of the Biden administration's recission of the "Remain in Mexico" program. Simply put, immigration law states that anyone who crosses into the U.S. illegally cannot then just get to stay, even by asking for asylum. U.S. asylum laws are clear that a foreign national has a right to ask for asylum based on a credible claim of facing mortal danger in their country they are just exiting, but that request must be made at a legal port of entry. Wanting a better job is not a legitimate asylum claim nor is crossing through Mexico to de facto immigrate to the U.S.  Millions with illegitimate claims must be returned to Mexico under the law. And while the executive branch has discretion on how to executive the laws passed in Congress, it has no right to ignore them.

Also on April 26 and on April 28, the Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Majorkas was "grilled" by two Congressional Committees (the Congressional Committee on HLS, and the full House Judiciary Committee respectively) on what the Biden administration intends to do about the coming surge. The hearings were ugly. Democrats on both committees spent most of their question time defending the Biden administration's slow responses to the migrant surge by blaming President Trump for the "inherited" immigration problems.  On the other side, almost all Republican Congressional representatives on both committees ended their accusations of DHLS mismanagement by threatening to impeach Majorkas as soon as they won the majority in the House in the coming November midterm elections – something widely predicted will happen.

Then on Friday April 29, Democratic party leader Senator Richard Durbin (IIl) announced he would reconvene the 2013 bipartisan committee to try to put together a shorter version of their 1000+ page comprehensive immigration bill. That one passed the Senate in June of 2013; but House Republican leaders said they would only consider immigration issues in focused piece-meal bills. GOP House members then introduced the Republican "Kids Act" on July 23, 2013, that would have given legal status to all DACA program recipients. But the Democrats rejected the idea of a standalone bill, as they have consistently in the past.  

That also means attaching bills with broad immigration demands, to must pass bills like the defense budget and Build Back Bettersocial program bills.  The recently passed reconstruction bill only made it once immigration pieces were removed.  But Dems tried again this week. To finish off their immigration marathon last week, they tried to attach immigration demands to a bill that would give more funds for COVID relief and give the Ukrainians $33 billion dollars in arms aid.

Eventually the Democrats will have to deal with immigration in prioritized passable bits and pieces. For the sake of their majority, they better do it soon.

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“We can’t know where we’re going if we don’t know where we’ve been”. Vice President of the Brookings Institution Darrell West wrote in recommending Peggy Sands Orchowski’s books   "The Law That Changed The Face of America: The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965" and  "Immigration and the American Dream: Battling the Political Hype and Hysteria" (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015 and 2008 respectively).  Peggy is a credentialed Senior Congressional journalist in Washington DC. She is available for interviews, article assignments and speaking engagements about immigration   porchowski@hotmail.com

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