Experts are sounding the alarm this week with claims that the Biden administration’s latest legislative proposal just made the ongoing immigration debate “exponentially more serious.”
Formally introduced Thursday morning on Capitol Hill, the comprehensive Democratic plan to modernize American immigration policy was revealed to include a sweeping expansion of the nation’s most widely abused programs, as well as some substantial changes to the rhetoric with which illegal immigration and residency are discussed at the federal level.
Virtually all of the 11 million illegal immigrants currently living in the United States would be eligible under the plan, with tax-paying status and a successful background check serving as the only major qualifiers for a five-year residency. After five years, a permanent green card would be on the table, with full naturalization opportunities just three years later.
The legislation also forwards new legal terminology like “integration” and “undocumented noncitizen” to replace longstanding terms like cultural “assimilation” and “illegal alien,” which progressive Democrats have pointed to as vestiges of anti-immigrant racism.
According to Axios, one of many documented goals of the Biden administration was to introduce “more inclusive language” to the dialogue, both internally and externally — an assertion Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey confirmed while unveiling the plan.
“We’re here today because last November 80 million Americans voted against Donald Trump and against everything he stood for. They voted to restore common sense, compassion, and competence in our government. And part of that mandate is fixing our immigration system, which is a cornerstone of Trump’s hateful horror show,” the Democratic senator said in a virtual news conference.
“We will do the righteous thing and make our case for both inclusive and lasting immigration reform. And we have seen in poll after poll, the vast majority of Americans are standing with us.”
Proud to introduce the #USCitizenshipAct w/ @RepLindaSanchez & many of our colleagues. This is a bill that will restore humanity & American values to our immigration system, keep families together, grow our economy, & effectively manage our borders. Together we’ll get this done! pic.twitter.com/dXdpLQ6rWk
— Senator Bob Menendez (@SenatorMenendez) February 18, 2021
Andrew Arthur, a resident fellow in law and policy at the Center for Immigration Studies, however, argues that the proposed changes to U.S. immigration law are anything but “inclusive.”
In a policy report released last month, the expert was quick to get out ahead of inauguration week whispers that the Biden administration intended to eliminate the term “alien” from the federal vernacular, arguing that its proposed replacement, “noncitizen,” would only serve to further alienate immigrants by defining them solely by what they are not.
“The proposal is nothing more than a feelgood distraction for its proponents from the exponentially more serious aspects of that bill,” Arthur told The Western Journal.
“Substituting the euphemistic ‘noncitizen’ for ‘alien’ (which may be perceived by a small number of people as derogatory, but which is really just a descriptive term of art, as I explain in that piece) simply blurs the very distinction in our society between the citizen and the alien, and therefore the very concept and importance of citizenship itself.”
“If this change were to be adopted, it would just be a matter of time before “noncitizen” was also viewed as derogatory, and there would be calls from the same quarters to change it again,” he said.
The consensus from The Heritage Foundation was similar, with senior research fellow Lora Ries telling The Western Journal rhetorical alterations forwarded in the Democratic plan were about slowly “erasing the line between legal and illegal immigration.”
Both she and Arthur went on to note, in separate conversations, that those linguistic alterations were not chief on their list of concerns, however, serving primarily as a “distraction.”
More pressing, the experts argued, was a lack of restrictions slated for after the amnesty process and legal immigration expansions played out. Without such crucial measures, there would remain no disincentive for illegal immigration, leaving the U.S. open for yet another invisible population crisis to deal with down the line.
“Their priorities are completely backwards,” Ries said. “They’re not even trying to talk about how this helps Americans. I mean, these people were voted for by Americans and they swore to uphold the Constitution of the U.S., not of foreign countries. And the left is only focusing on expanding illegal immigration, rewarding it, and has zero regard for what Americans need or want.”
“I don’t think there’s any enforcement in this bill, which is a critical departure from comprehensive immigration reform bills that were considered in Congress the past 20 or so years,” she said.
“The message is clear: come here illegally and we won’t deport you.”
President Biden responds to executive order critics: “I’m not making new law, I’m eliminating bad policy.”
He announces he’s signing an order “to undo the moral and national shame” of Trump’s immigration policy that “ripped children from the arms of their families.” pic.twitter.com/4BA1WTe0XB
— The American Independent (@AmerIndependent) February 2, 2021
With a major surge in arrests at the U.S.-Mexico border reported last month, it would appear that message may be resonating in Central and South America.
According to The Wall Street Journal, more than 75,000 arrests were made at the southwest border in January, a 10-year record for the first month of the year and a six-percent increase over the previous month.
This is not the first border crossing surge in recent memory, either. The outlet reported similar surges in the closing months of 2020, which lead a handful of figures inside the Biden camp to express concern that the candidate’s immigration rhetoric, and eventual victory, may have impacted illegal immigration numbers.
Progressive efforts to push similar Biden immigration policy through Congress will likely be hamstrung by these developments, as well as the pressing nature of COVID relief talks, which are set to dominate the early days of the coming legislative session after stalling in December.
Struggling constituencies across the country have been awaiting another round of economic relief since the initial passage of the CARES Act last March.
The Western Journal reached out to the White House for comment but did not receive a response before publication.
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