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Why Biden’s immigration plan could be risky for Democrats

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden faces the political risk that comes with great ambition.

As one of his first actions, Biden proposed extensive immigration repairs last week that would provide a pathway to U.S. citizenship for approximately 11 million people who are in the United States illegally. It will also codify provisions that delete some of President Donald Trump’s signatory policies, including attempts to end the existing, protected legal status of many immigrants brought to the United States as children and repression of asylum rules.

It is this type of measure that many Latin activists have longed for, especially after the austere approach of the Trump era. But it must compete with Biden̵

7;s other legislative goals, including a $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus plan, an infrastructure package that promotes green energy initiatives and a “public option” to expand health insurance.

In the best of circumstances, it would be difficult to pass such a wide range of legislation. But in a closely divided Congress, this may not be possible. And that makes Latinos, the fastest-growing voting bloc in the country, worry that Biden and Congress leaders may make deals that weaken the finished product too much – or miss anything at all.

“This cannot be a situation where a visionary bill – a communications bill – is sent to Congress and nothing happens to it,” said Marielena Hincapier, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, which advocates for immigrants. low income. “There are expectations that they will fulfill and that there is now a mandate for Biden to be irreconcilably pro-immigrant and to have a political imperative for that, as well as the Democrats.”

If Latin Americans eventually feel betrayed, the political consequences for Democrats could be long-lasting. The 2020 election gave several warning signs that despite the Democratic Party’s efforts to build a multiracial coalition, the support of Latin Americans could be put at risk.

Biden has already been viewed with skepticism by some Latin activists over his connection to former President Barack Obama, who has been dubbed the “chief deporter” for a record number of immigrants who were removed from the country during his administration. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont defeated Biden in last year’s parliamentary group in Nevada and the primary California, which served as an early barometer of the Latino vote.

In his race against Trump, Biden won the support of 63% of Latin American voters compared to 35% of Trump, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of more than 110,000 voters across the country. But Trump has cut margins to some extent in some swinging countries like Nevada and also received a boom from Hispanics, 39% of whom supported him compared to 33% of Hispanics.

Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry Arizona since 1996, in part because of strong support from Mexican American groups who opposed the CSO’s strict immigration policy, which dates back decades. But he lost Florida, performing poorly in Miami-Dade, Spain’s largest county, where the anti-socialist message of Trump’s campaign resonated with Cuban and some Venezuelan Americans.

Biden also failed in Texas, although candidate Kamala Harris devoted valuable, late time to the campaign there. The ticket lost some sparsely populated but heavily Mexican U.S. counties along the Mexican border, where law enforcement is a major employer and GOP’s zero-tolerance immigration policy resonated.

There were other warning signs for House Democrats who lost four seats in California and two in South Florida until they failed to take any in Texas. The thriving Spanish population, as reflected in new U.S. census data, could see Texas and Florida get congressional areas ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, which could make correcting the issue even more urgent for Democrats.

Urgency is not lost on Biden. He spent months privately telling immigration advocates that major repairs would be at the top of his to-do list. As vice president, he watched as the Obama administration used larger congressional majorities to speed up the passage of the stimulus bill and the health care bill he signed, while allowing the immigration audit to weaken.

“It means so much to us if the new president proposes bold, visionary immigration reform on day 1, day 2, day 3, or a year later,” said New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, a leading sponsor of the package. Biden.

Menendez was part of a bipartisan immigration plan backed by Gang of Eight senators that collapsed in 2013. Obama then resorted to executive action to offer legal status to millions of young immigrants. President George W. Bush also pushed for an immigration package – with a view to boosting Latin American support for Republicans ahead of the 2008 election – only to fail in Congress.

Menendez acknowledged that the latest bill would have to find support from at least 10 Republican senators to remove the 60-vote hurdle to reach the floor, and that he “has no illusions” how difficult this will be.

Former MP Carlos Courbello, a moderate Republican from Florida, said Biden could find some support from the GP, but would probably have to settle for much less than what was in his original proposal.

“Many Republicans are worried about the main challenges,” Karbelo said, adding that Trump and his supporters, who defend immigration repression, mean “there is a political danger to Republicans.”

But he also said Democrats could alienate part of their own base by seeming to prioritize the needs of the country’s people illegally over those of troubled Americans and thus “seem overwhelmed in terms of swing and independent.” voters. “

In fact, Democrats have not always stood in line behind a complete overhaul of immigration, arguing that this could lead to an influx of cheap labor that harms American workers. Some of the party’s senators joined Republicans in sinking the Bush bill.

Yet Latinos have not forgotten past immigration failures and have often blamed Democrats more than Republicans.

Chuck Roca, head of Nuestro PAC, which spent $ 4 million on Biden-sponsored ads in Arizona, said that while Latinos have traditionally been inclined to support Democrats, he has begun to see trends over the past decade that are more independent or without party affiliation. These voters can still be won, he said, but only if Latinos see real change on important issues such as immigration, “even if it’s in parts.”

“They have to do something if they want to start reversing the loss of Latino voters,” said Rocha, who spearheaded the Latino election campaign for Sanders’ presidential campaign. “They have to do everything in their power to get the Latin Americans back.”


Associated Press writer Alan Fram contributed to this report.

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