Immigration Is a Political Liability for Biden. But So Is Immigration Reform

By Matthew Kendrick

"This is a United States that can’t even do the easy stuff anymore," said AS/COA's Brian Winter to Morning Consult.

President Joe Biden capped off a rocky Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles last week with a major declaration on migration also signed by 18 Latin American countries and Canada, with hundreds of millions of dollars set to be disbursed to help integrate migrants into countries other than the United States. But the deal’s dearth of initiatives addressing northward migration is unlikely to burnish Biden’s credibility on the topic ahead of November’s midterms and the 2024 presidential election, instead kicking the can down the road when it comes to dealing with the countries of origin of many U.S.-bound migrants.

The administration appears stuck in a bind, experts say, as maintaining the status quo on regional migration means Democratic candidates may get hammered for not reducing border crossings, but most solutions also constitute politically unpalatable choices. […]

The summit did not end without results: As part of the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration, the United States committed to taking 20,000 refugees from across Latin America over the next two fiscal years, as well as expanding temporary work visa programs. But the declaration was notably most expansive on the provision of pathways to legal status for migrants in Mexico, Canada, Spain, Guatemala and Belize — rather than the United States, where arrivals on the southern border in March and April were at a 22-year high of more than 200,000 people a month.

That was hardly a surprise, according to Brian Winter, the vice president for policy at Americas Society/Council of the Americas and editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly.

“At the end of the day, a declaration coming from a hotel conference center in Los Angeles isn’t going to do much to address migration itself,” Winter said, explaining that the reforms needed to fix the U.S. immigration system long ago fell victim to Washington deadlock. “This is a United States that can’t even do the easy stuff anymore,” he said.

“It’s not a mystery what commonsense immigration reform would look like and we have pluralities of Americans who support things like a pathway to citizenship for the people who are already here. But we also have pluralities who support background checks for guns and we can’t get that done either.”…

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