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Ranking Member Jayapal Expresses Disappointment Over Recent Biden Comments

WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Ranking Member of the Immigration Integrity, Security, and Enforcement Subcommittee issued the following statement in response to President Biden’s recent statement that he may use executive authority in an attempt to “close the border”:

“I am extremely disappointed to see the President discussing plans to use executive authority to ‘shut down the border’ and limit the ability of people to seek asylum in the United States. Democrats cannot continue to take pages out of Donald Trump and Stephen Miller’s playbook — we need to lead with dignity and humanity. 30 years of data shows that enforcement-only approaches do not work. 

“President Biden was right to put forward a bill for comprehensive humane immigration reform when he first came into office, recognizing that harsh Trump policies simply do not work.  In fact, when former President Trump implemented draconian policies like Remain in Mexico and Title 42 border apprehensions went up, not down. And in 2018 when Trump attempted a similar executive action, it was stopped by the courts. 

“It is therefore even more disappointing to hear President Biden’s recent comments.  What we need is for the President to continue to showcase the need for fundamental reforms to the immigration system that allow for efficient legal pathways for migrants to enter the United States, for more resources to allow the immigration system to work, and for a clear recognition of the contributions of immigrants to our country at every level.  

“The truth is that the situation at the border is directly linked to the fact that the legal immigration system has not been modernized in 30 years, leaving it defunct and in chaos.  When the legal process is so backed up that it takes decades for legal residents to get their children into the country, or when employers simply can’t hire the people they need because there’s a backlog of 2 million people who haven’t been processed, or when we have so few immigration judges that asylum seekers must wait over 8 years to get their cases heard—people turn to unscrupulous actors, including cartels, who promise them they can get in by going to the border.

“Republicans have consistently blocked even bipartisan reforms to the immigration system that allow for a path to citizenship for Dreamers and farmworkers.  They have consistently voted against more resources to help processing at the border or more technology to secure the border.  They have opposed every single solution Democrats have proposed because they want to keep immigration out there as a political issue, rather than solving the problem.  

“We know what works: expand lawful pathways and adequately fund the immigration system. This will help relieve pressure on the border and create a more orderly, safe, and humane process.

“We must lead with compassion and remember President Abraham Lincoln’s wise words: ‘Whoever molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces judicial decisions.’ It is our duty as elected officials to change and shape the conversation and not just buy into the same failed and tired policies of the past. President Biden has the ability to do this and reject the xenophobic racist conversation that Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans want to put forward.  As someone who came to this country alone at 16, who has worked to advance immigrant rights for over 20 years, I know we must lead with the vision of an America that welcomes immigrants and establishes a safe and orderly immigration system.”