Joe Biden promised on the campaign trail that he would begin dismantling President Trump’s immigration policies on the first day of his presidency, starting with the “Remain in Mexico” program that has done wonders to keep asylum-seekers on the other side of the border while their cases are being processed. Biden also promised that he would put a full-scale halt to all deportations for the first 100 days of his presidency, and he said that he would put a stop to any additional wall construction at the Mexican border.
But for all his tough talk about (practically) opening the border, Biden may have set expectations a little too high. On Tuesday, aides with his team told reporters that people should expect a much slower approach to overturning Trump’s immigration policies, and that they should, in some instances, dampen their expectations for a new approach altogether.
“This is an area of policy-making where there has been grave damage done by the current administration. They have created chaos. They’ve even weaponized the immigration system to separate children from their families,” the aide said.
Susan Rice, who has been advising the President-elect, told the Washington Post that people will have to be patient.
“We will be able to take some steps to change policies right away,” Rice said. “Others will take time to put in place, and the situation at the border will not transform overnight due in large part to the damage done over the last four years. But we are committed to addressing it in full. Migrants and asylum seekers absolutely should not believe those in the region peddling the idea that the border will suddenly be fully open to process everyone on Day 1. It will not.”
The remarks angered many on the far-left, including Rep. Ilhan Omar, who immediately accused Biden of lying to voters.
“This is a classic bait and switch,” she tweeted. “It perpetuates Trump’s dehumanization of migrants and breaks a core campaign promise. Democrats lose big when administrations won’t fulfill their promise. I urge the Biden transition team to reconsider this position.”
In remarks to the press on Tuesday, Biden confirmed the slowdown, insisting that immediately changing the asylum policies could have a disastrous effect at the border.
“I’ve already started discussing these issues with the president of Mexico and our friends in Latin America and the timeline is to do it so that we in fact make it better, not worse,” Biden said. “The last thing we need is to say we’re going to stop immediately the, you know, the access to asylum the way it’s being run now and end up with 2 million people on our border.”
Yeah. Well. Maybe we should have voted for a president who would have extended these policies indefinitely.