No, Those Aren’t Whips the Border Patrol is Using While Dealing with Haitian Migrants
Among other features, the legislation would have granted permanent legal status and a path to citizenship to recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — immigrants brought into the country as minors — and also to adult migrants who entered under Temporary Protected Status rules.
For now, the Democrats will have to turn to a more conventional path that has become increasingly rare in Congress: bipartisan legislative compromise.
Somewhere there must be a middle ground but both sides have been dragging their heels in looking for it.
One longs for the days when the president would charge up the middle and work with Congress toward a lasting solution as President Ronald Reagan did with the last major immigration overhaul in the 1980s.
In those days, Democrats controlled Congress, but they found ways to work with Reagan and other Republicans, even on an issue as touchy as immigration.
The Immigration Reform and Control Act, also known as the Simpson-Mazzoli Act or “the Reagan Amnesty,” was signed in 1986. Among other changes, it legalized immigrants who entered the United States before Jan. 1, 1982, and had lived in the country continuously, with the penalty of a fine, back taxes due and admission of guilt.
Nearly 2.7 million people were ultimately approved for permanent residence. But despite new restrictions placed on employers who hired workers living in the U.S. illegally, that part of the law was watered down under pressure from employers — and the population of immigrants here illegally grew faster than expected — from an estimated 5 million in 1986 to 11.1 million in 2013.
By then, “amnesty” became a dirty word among Republicans who applied it to just about every subsequent effort to “fix” immigration. All of which set the stage for the rise of Donald Trump’s presidential bid in 2016 with his signature rally chant, “Build that wall.”
Now it is Joe Biden’s turn to be victimized by bad optics, as thousands of Haitians join the refuge-seeking tide, fleeing their embattled island’s poverty, a hurricane, an earthquake and a coup in the past year alone. More than 14,000 gathered at the border at Del Rio, Texas, where they have faced deportation back to Haiti — and Border Patrol agents on horseback.
The estimated number of migrants assembled in the temporary Del Rio site swelled from roughly 400. The surge may owe simply to word-of-mouth and social media messages that the border at Del Rio was open, Border Patrol officials have said.
Instead, most face the risk of deportation to the country they fled, a country that barely struggles along with the population it already has, while we Americans still try to sort out our mixed messages — without whips.
(E-mail Clarence Page at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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