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Understanding Biden’s Big Immigration Plan
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Understanding Biden’s Big Immigration Plan

The administration seeks to bring order to the chaotic influx of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Happy Tuesday! Prepare yourself: Everyone is about to flip-flop on the importance of proper classified information storage and retention—again.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • CBS News reported Monday Attorney General Merrick Garland has assigned U.S. Attorney John Lausch—a Trump appointee—to review about 10 Obama-era documents marked classified that were discovered by personal attorneys for President Joe Biden in Biden’s vice presidential office at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington. Richard Sauber, special counsel to Biden, confirmed Biden’s attorneys found the material in a “locked closet” on November 2, 2022, while preparing to vacate the office. According to Sauber, the White House counsel’s office notified the National Archives of the documents that same day, and they were in archives’ possession the morning of November 3. The archives, according to CBS News, then referred the matter to the Justice Department, leading to Lausch’s investigation which is expected to conclude “soon.”
  • The House voted 220-213 on Monday to adopt new rules governing how the legislative body operates, with only one Republican—Rep. Tony Gonzales of Texas—opposing the package despite several expressing concern in recent days about concessions Speaker Kevin McCarthy made to House Freedom Caucus members behind closed doors. Lawmakers also voted 221-210 to pass the first legislation of the new Congress: a bill rescinding about $71 billion of the $80 billion provided to the Internal Revenue Service in last year’s Inflation Reduction Act. The legislation fulfills a campaign promise but is almost entirely symbolic, as it will not pass a Democratic-controlled Senate.
  • The House Republican Steering Committee voted Monday to determine leaders on a number of key committees, with Majority Leader Steve Scalise announcing the resulting recommendations—which still need to be ratified by the full Republican conference—later in the day. Rep. Jason Smith of Missouri will chair the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee will chair the Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina will chair the Committee on Education and the Workforce, and Rep. Jodey Arrington will chair the Budget Committee.
  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Monday he had tapped Democratic Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan to lead the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) for a second consecutive cycle, weeks after Peters told NBC News he was not interested in returning to the role in 2024. “[Peters’] hard work led Senate Democrats to defy the political odds and to one of our best midterm results in recent history,” Schumer said. Sens. Tina Smith of Minnesota and Alex Padilla of California will serve as vice chairs.
  • Israel’s new National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir announced Sunday he had ordered police to take down any Palestinian flags being flown in public spaces, arguing they were a danger to the public order. The move comes shortly after residents of an Arab village in northern Israel waved Palestinian flags while celebrating the release of a man who had spent 40 years in prison after being convicted of kidnapping and murdering an Israeli soldier. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government announced a number of measures last week targeting Palestinian leadership, transferring about $40 million in tax revenue collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority to Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism and revoking certain travel privileges for senior Palestinian officials.
  • Damar Hamlin—the 24-year-old Buffalo Bills safety who collapsed during last Monday’s game after suffering cardiac arrest—announced Monday he had been released from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and was able to fly home to Buffalo. In stable condition, Hamlin is now walking, talking, and breathing on his own, and will continue his recovery at the Buffalo General Medical Center and Gates Vascular Institute.
  • The Georgia Bulldogs won their second consecutive college football national championship on Monday, defeating the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs 65-7 and setting a record for most points scored in a college football playoff title game.

Biden’s Big Border Plan

U.S. President Joe Biden greets Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador at the 2023 North American Leaders Summit in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)
U.S. President Joe Biden greets Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador at the 2023 North American Leaders Summit in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

No sooner had President Joe Biden arrived in Mexico Monday than Mexican President Andrés  Manuel López Obrador blasted him for “disdain” and “forgetfulness” toward Latin America and the Caribbean, providing additional fodder to the president’s critics who routinely accuse him of memory loss. 

But maybe Biden and AMLO will mend fences when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joins them today for their regular “three amigos” summit. If nothing else, they can shake hands and slap five over the new immigration plan Biden rolled out last week, which López Obrador has already suggested might be worth expanding.

The new plan is meant to bring order to the chaotic influx of migrants at the southwestern border of the United States by pairing an expansion of Title 42—the pandemic era rule allowing border officials to quickly expel migrants—with a new humanitarian parole legal entry pathway. The scheme relies on Mexico’s cooperation, and we’re thinking of it less as “closing a door and opening a window” and more “closing the windows everybody’s been climbing through, cutting the padlock off the door, and giving the bouncer a queue quota.”

Under the new program, Cuban, Nicaraguan, and Haitian migrants face immediate Title 42 expulsion to Mexico if they cross into the U.S. illegally. The United States can’t deport most of these migrants to their home countries because of dangerous conditions or poor relations with the respective regimes, and until recently, Mexico refused to accept them. But according to the Biden administration, Mexico has changed its tune, agreeing to let in 30,000 people per month from those three countries, and expanding a similar, smaller cap set up for Venezuelans in October. Though the Biden administration has been fighting in court to end the use of Title 42—the program is currently pending Supreme Court review—this change amounts to a major expansion of the policy, since an increasing proportion of migrants arriving at the southern border hail from these newly included countries.

To accompany the Title 42 stick, the administration is providing a carrot: a humanitarian parole program, also capped at 30,000 per month, for migrants from these countries. Those who apply, pass various screenings, and can demonstrate they’ll have financial support in the U.S. can enter the country and receive a two-year work authorization while they wait for asylum or other legal entry claims to process. Once approved, migrants can take a flight directly to the U.S.—but there’s a catch. In a bid to disincentivize dangerous and illegal crossing attempts and reduce demand for predatory smuggling operations, anyone who enters the U.S., Mexico, or Panama illegally won’t be eligible for the parole pathway.

“We can provide humanitarian relief consistent with our values, cut out vicious smuggling organizations, and enforce our laws,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said. “Individuals who are provided a safe, orderly, and lawful path to the United States are less likely to risk their lives traversing thousands of miles in the hands of ruthless smugglers, only to arrive at our southern border and face the legal consequences of unlawful entry.” 

President Joe Biden was more direct. “Do not—do not—just show up at the border,” he warned. “Stay where you are and apply legally from there.”

Administration officials touted the success of the smaller Venezuelan program as proof of concept: After implementing the capped parole program and Title 42 expulsions, illegal border crossings by Venezuelans dropped from around 1,100 per day to about 250, while more Venezuelans entered the U.S. legally. It’s not clear whether more Venezuelans took advantage of the Title 42 expulsions to make repeated crossing attempts until they succeeded, as successful attempts reportedly increased in October and November.

The parole and expulsion caps don’t match current migrant crossing numbers, a sign that the administration hopes migrants will opt to wait in line anyway. “The 360,000 parole admissions from these countries would be more people than were issued immigrant visas from these countries in the last 15 years combined,” wrote David Bier, associate director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute. “Of course, in another frame, it is only 60 percent of the number of people from these countries arrested crossing illegally at the border last year. The administration is correctly betting that many people would rather wait to be sponsored and admitted legally than undergo a dangerous journey to enter illegally.”

Critics argue the program is more about smoothing processing at the border—and converting would-be illegal crossers to legal humanitarian parolees—than about deterring migrants altogether. “We will not be tricked into thinking that certain policies that make it seem more streamlined, make it seem less chaotic, equals securing the border,” Rep. Dan Crenshaw told CNN. Biden defended the plan, calling it inevitable that people will try to enter the U.S. given conditions in Central and South America. “We can’t stop people from making the journey,” he said. “But we can require [that] they come here in an orderly way under U.S. law.”

In addition to the parole program, Thursday’s announcement included steps intended to improve processing and prepare for the end of Title 42. Migrants seeking Title 42 exceptions allowing them to apply for asylum can now schedule appointments to show up at ports of entry on a Customs and Border Patrol app, a bid to prevent overcrowded processing facilities and migrant camps near the border. Post-Title 42, the administration plans to use this app to allow any noncitizen to make a processing appointment. Mayorkas also announced expanded use of “expedited removal” for people who don’t make asylum claims and said the administration would dedicate additional people, vehicles, and processing centers to hasten the process. The administration promised to triple the number of Western Hemisphere refugees accepted to 20,000 over the next two years and send an extra $23 million in humanitarian assistance to Mexico and Central America to help them care for migrants.

Finally—pending public comment and assuming the move survives likely legal challenges—the administration plans to restore a Trump-style “transit ban,” making migrants ineligible for asylum if they didn’t seek refuge in countries they traveled through to reach the U.S. Mayorkas insisted this measure differs from the Trump administration version because the Biden administration is concurrently creating legal pathways for entry.

Republicans predictably greeted the sweeping expansion of humanitarian parole with skepticism; Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called the plan a “band-aid for a historic flood.” Immigration advocates, meanwhile, criticized the administration for leaning on Title 42 and restricting access to asylum claims—legally guaranteed to migrants—for many. “Continuing to use this failed and inhumane Trump-era policy put in place to address a public health crisis will do nothing to restore the rule of law at the border,” Sen. Bob Menendez and other Democratic lawmakers said in a statement. “This narrow benefit will exclude thousands of migrants fleeing violence and persecution who do not have the ability or economic means to qualify for the new parole process.” Biden and Mayorkas acknowledged the limitations of the program and berated Congress for failing to update immigration law, with Biden arguing, “Until Congress passes the funds, a comprehensive plan to fix the system completely, my administration is going to work to make things at the border better using the tools that we have.”

Some analysts believe the plan shows promise, but could easily fall apart over poor implementation. “This whole thing could go really sideways and be a complete disaster, or it could be one of the most impressive achievement[s] of [Biden’s] presidency,” Bier argued. “It really depends on how it all plays out on the ground, which we won’t know for a while.”

Worth Your Time

  • Is the politically active CEO poised to become a thing of the past? “Businesses waded into these once-taboo topics to begin with because they claimed they aligned with their corporate values, and—let’s be real—because they viewed it as good PR,” Beth Kowitt writes for Bloomberg. “[But] the era of widespread corporate outspokenness is ending. Part of the calculus for corporations is that they may be realizing they overestimated the goodwill their public stances generate. Research from Vanessa Burbano, a professor at Columbia Business School, has found that there is a ‘significant demotivating effect’ if an employer takes a stance an employee disagrees with, but no statistically motivating effect if the employee agrees. ‘The blowback you get is greater than the benefit,’ she told me. The reason, she says, is likely what’s called a ‘false consensus effect.’ People tend to assume that others share their values and are surprised and react more strongly when they find out that’s not the case.”
  • Odds are you haven’t heard of Adolfo Kaminsky, but the member of the French Resistance—who died Monday at the age of 97—saved the lives of thousands of Jews during the Holocaust. “Kaminsky’s talent was as banal as could be: He knew how to remove supposedly indelible blue ink from paper,” Joseph Berger writes in his obituary. “He had learned how to remove such stains as a teenager working for a clothes dyer and dry cleaner in his Normandy town. When he joined the anti-Nazi resistance at 18, his expertise enabled him to erase Jewish-sounding names like Abraham or Isaac that were officially inscribed on French ID and food ration cards, and substitute them with typically gentile-sounding ones. The forged documents allowed Jewish children, their parents and others to escape deportation to Auschwitz and other concentration camps, and in many cases to flee Nazi-occupied territory for safe havens. At one point, Mr. Kaminsky was asked to produce 900 birth and baptismal certificates and ration cards for 300 Jewish children in institutional homes who were about to be rounded up. The aim was to deceive the Germans until the children could be smuggled out to rural families or convents, or to Switzerland and Spain. He was given three days to finish the assignment. He toiled for two straight days, forcing himself to stay awake by telling himself: ‘In one hour I can make 30 blank documents. If I sleep for an hour 30 people will die.’”

Presented Without Comment

Also Presented Without Comment

Toeing the Company Line

  • ​​It’s Tuesday, which means Dispatch Live (🔒) returns tonight at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT! In this week’s episode, Sarah, Declan, Andrew, and Esther will discuss changes to the immigration system, the riots in Brazil, the latest from the House Republican majority, and more. As always, there will be plenty of time for viewer questions. For information on how to tune in, click here.
  • On today’s episode of Advisory Opinions, David and Sarah discuss a 5th Circuit decision to strike down the Trump administration ban on bump stocks for firearms before turning to a case involving a teacher and a MAGA hat.
  • Everybody loved the C-SPAN footage of last week’s speakership drama, but would we have been better off without it? “Many theories have been offered on how to improve Congress, but ‘let’s make it even more of a reality show’ is a new one to me,” Nick writes in his latest Boiling Frogs (🔒). “Frankly, we’d do better to remove the cameras already in place than to add new ones.”
  • In this week’s Wanderland (🔒), Kevin explores the similarities between our government and … the Tudors? “Just as England was better off when the king had to take into account the priorities and preferences of the Duke of Norfolk and the pope,” he writes, “the United States is better off when the president has to share power in a more genuine and robust way with the speaker of the House.”
  • On the site today, Audrey dives into the details of the deal by which the Club for Growth came to endorse Kevin McCarthy’s bid for the speakership. And Charlotte tackles an important question: Can Israel normalize relations with Saudi Arabia?

Let Us Know

Do you think the Biden administration’s immigration plan has any chance of working as intended? Would you consider it “working as intended” to be an improvement over the status quo?

Declan Garvey is the executive editor at the Dispatch and is based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2019, he worked in public affairs at Hamilton Place Strategies and market research at Echelon Insights. When Declan is not assigning and editing pieces, he is probably watching a Cubs game, listening to podcasts on 3x speed, or trying a new recipe with his wife.

Esther Eaton is a former deputy editor of The Morning Dispatch.