Amid the Biden administration’s efforts to address the fallout from the Trump era, Vice President Kamala Harris visited the southern U.S. border this week, where she adeptly dismantled shoddy Republican arguments about what’s going on there. Republicans have sought to characterize the Biden team as essentially turning a blind eye to immigration issues, but tha’s simply not the case, as Harris made clear. Prior to her stop this week, Republicans had feverishly complained that Harris hadn’t visited the border, but characterizing a visit to the border as some kind of critical catch-all doesn’t reflect reality.
As Harris put it:
‘Our administration, it is important to be clear, is working to build a fair and a functional and a humane immigration system. We feel very strongly about that, and as you know we inherited a tough situation. In fact, right here in El Paso was the launch of the child separation policy. You saw it as it rolled out on the ground in real time. We have looked at a system where people have been housed in inhumane conditions over the last many years, an asylum system that has been broken and that needs to be reconstructed.’
Watch Harris’s comments below:
VP @KamalaHarris: “Our administration, it is important to be clear, is working to build a fair and a functional and a humane immigration system. We feel very strongly about that and as you know we inherited a tough situation.” pic.twitter.com/45zZwMxLDW
— The Hill (@thehill) June 26, 2021
The Biden administration has specifically taken on the Trump immigration legacy. Recently, for instance, Attorney General Merrick Garland turned back a set of Trump era restrictions on who could claim asylum in the United States. Those provisions included harsh restrictions on victims of both gang and domestic violence who may have sought asylum in the United States, making it “nearly impossible” for them to win their cases, as NBC put it.
Asylum protections are generally provided to individuals whose membership in a “particular social group” is connected to certain dangers, but Trump era Attorney General Bill Barr had formally concluded that being a part of a certain family did not count as membership in a “particular social group.” Attorney Generals have the authority to issue binding, precedent-setting decisions regarding certain immigration matters, and that power underlined both Barr’s decision and Garland’s subsequent revocation of it. Garland also revoked a decision by Trump era Attorney General Jeff Sessions along similar lines. Meanwhile, the Biden administration has also undone the Trump administration’s so-called “Remain in Mexico” policy, which forced asylum-seekers to wait outside the country while their claims were processed within it.