Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and other progressives are taking aim at Joe Biden Tuesday after an aide to the transition team admitted that Biden’s incoming administration does not plan to roll back President Donald Trump’s immigration policies wholesale.
Biden’s presidential campaign routinely referenced plans to end controversial Trump administration immigration policies, including the “Remain in Mexico” policy which prevented asylum seekers from entering the United States until their claims could be adjudicated. Biden also pledged to freeze deportations for 100 days, limit immigration arrests, and loosen restrictions that kept the United States-Mexico border shut for most of the coronavirus pandemic.
In some cases, particularly with regard to “Remain in Mexico,” Biden pledged to make changes on “day one.”
On Tuesday, however, aides with the Biden transition team tried to tamp down expectations on immigration policy, telling reporters on a phone call that changes in immigration policy will be slower, and potentially more modest than initially expected.
“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.
Biden advisor Susan Rice echoed those sentiments in her own comments, according to The Washington Post.
“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,” she added, according to the report, directly referencing the Biden “Remain in Mexico” promise.
“Our priority is to reopen asylum processing at the border consistent with the capacity to do so safely and to protect public health, especially in the context of Covid-19,” Rice told media. “This effort will begin immediately, but it will take months to develop the capacity that we will need to reopen fully.”
She ultimately noted that Congress, and not the Biden administration, will handle the majority of immigration policy, passing the buck on the controversial issue to Democrat legislators, who have, since the Obama administration, been unable to agree on a cogent approach to illegal immigration.
Omar was the first to fire back, accusing the administration of a “bait-and-switch.”
“This is a classic bait and switch,” she said in a Twitter post. “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.”
Progressives had warned that Biden could not live up to his promises earlier in December, according to NPR. It took just one week for the Biden transition team to make the change official.