Biden nears huge next move on immigration as he tries to win over Latinos in key states | CNN Politics (2024)

Biden nears huge next move on immigration as he tries to win over Latinos in key states | CNN Politics (1)

President Joe Biden speaks about an executive order in the East Room at the White House in Washington, DC, on Tuesday.

Washington CNN

Looking to shore upLatino votesin Nevada and Arizona for his reelection campaign, President Joe Biden ison the verge ofsoon followingup last week’s executive action aimed at curbing border crossings with anothermovefocused on providing legal status for long-term undocumented immigrants who are married to American citizens.

Though final details have not been decided, officials are reviewing an existing legal authority known as “parole in place” thatwould shield select undocumented immigrants from deportation and allow them to work legally in the country as they seek citizenship.The orders have not yet been presented to Biden himself for review.

Polling reviewed by top aides in the White House and the president’s reelection headquartersare helping sealthe deal.

For Biden in Arizona, “Everything is on the margins, right?” said Democratic Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly. “My sense is it should help.”

Estimates put the number of people who could be directly affected at750,000 to 800,000,with a reverberating effect among spouses, children, extended family and friends — and predominantly Latinos. That’s millions of potential votes in just Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia.Those areall battleground states, all home to many Latinos and all looking likely to be decided in November by slivers of the electorate.

“We have lost the narrative on the border, and so we need to start winning it back,” said one person involved in the discussions of why Biden started with the executiveaction tighteningasylum rules last week.

But “Latino voters in particular are extremely enthusiastic about seeing something done to help people they know. It is either a direct relative or friend, someone they work with,” that person argued. “It is such a powerful signal to these communities that you care about them, and you understand what’s happening there.”

This could amount to the federal government’s biggest relief program since the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.That program, which allowed undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children to live and work in the country, was announcedmid-June of Obama’s own reelection year in 2012.

Several veterans of Obama’s reelection point to that moment as a key turning point for his bid for a second term. Biden, thenthevice president, was engaged in many of those discussions.

People involved with the internal discussions say that by focusing on workers and keeping families together, Biden would be able to make a case about economic growth, as well as asserting a very different portrayal of immigrants than that pushed by Donald Trump.

Trump’s campaign has also been looking to attract Latino voters, with the launch of a Latinos for Trump group timed to the former president’s rally in Las Vegas on Sunday, among other outreach and advertising. Still, on Thursday night in Arizona, Trump brought onto stage and kissed former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, infamous for his crackdowns on undocumented immigrants and the recipient of a Trump presidential pardon for illegal racially profiling.

Though some still think Biden may not go through with the move, aides have discussed when best to make the announcement. One option is to do so ahead of the June 27 debate, with the aim of goading Trump into attacking the widely popular orders.

Someworry, though, that giving Trump that opening could lead to voters turning against the border executive actionby calling the moves “amnesty.”Making the announcement later would deprive Trump ofthat possibility, while giving Biden another attention bump, perhaps with a July 4theme. Others say itcouldslip to later that month,especially in a White House where internal deadlines are often missed.

Kelly said that every week he hears from constituents facing problems stemming from their documentation status, but also from CEOs looking for more workers. He and his wife, former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords, “know people that these policies affect and their families directly. I think that’s true for most Arizonans,” Kelly said. “It’s co-workers, it’s a co-worker’s relative, it’s a friend, it’s a family member.”

Support for ‘an easy straightforward fix that most Americans think happens already’

To tamp down criticism among many leading Latino and immigration advocacy groupsoverBiden’s executive actioncracking down on border crossings, several operatives connected with the president spent days quietly reassuring leaders that more was coming.

They urged those leaders not to risk either frustrating the West Wing or getting themselves too far out on a limb when circ*mstances may change.

Then, on Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkaskept the door open for more immigration movesin a virtual briefing with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Congressional Progressive Caucus, saying the administration is reviewing possible options to extend protections to long-term undocumented immigrants residing in the United States, according to a source familiar.

Strategists working with the Biden campaign argue that the pair of moves — border security and legalization for long-term undocumented immigrants — will appeal to Latino voters who have drifted from Biden, citing polling that shows Latinos also favor border enforcement.

And not just among immigrants, or among Latinos. Across Democrats, Republican and independents and across backgrounds,Biden aides believe there is close to universal support for keeping families together by creating pathways to citizenship for immigrants who have been living in the US.for many years and pass a background check and pay taxes, according to a memo obtained by CNN summarizing one set of findings shared with the White House and the Biden campaign.

Those numbers also show huge support for expanding work permits to Dreamers and other undocumented immigrants who have lived in the country for many years and passed background checksand who don’t have criminal records. Other polling that Biden’s campaignhasseen shows similar levels of support.

Biden not so subtly teased the move himself as he announced the border action on Tuesday, acknowledging the blowback by some immigrant advocates and progressives who blasted his asylum restrictions.

Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Pramila Jayapal told CNN that she felt Biden had “gone into the same frame as Donald Trump at the very time when we need to make a distinction between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.”

“For those who say the steps I’ve taken are too strict, I say to you — be patient,” Biden said. “In the weeks ahead — and I mean theweeksahead — I will speak to how we can make our immigration system more fair and more just.”

Democeratic Rep. Tom Suozziwas hailed by many in his party as a national example when he won back his old New York City suburbs House seat in a February special election by successfully pushing back on Republican attacks centered on immigration and the situation at the border. Hetold CNN after standing with Biden at the White House that he has already written a letter to the president asking for the next move.

Suozzi argued that so many people believe that citizenship automatically comes from marrying an American that actually providing documentation to people in otherwise-citizen families would be “an easy straightforward fix that most Americans think happens already and most Americans would support.”

“Itwould be great for the economy, it would be great for the families, and it would be great for America,” Suozzi said.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who also flew to Washington to stand with Biden at the White House on Tuesday, said the new moves on the border are extremely important — and that the next steps also will bekeyto voters in her state and across the Southwest come November.

“Voters want a fair president who understands their struggles, who’s willing to make tough decisions, who’s clear that he can’t do all of it, but tries to balance those efforts leaning toward the public safety realities where he must,” Lujan Grisham said.“There’s more coming — and it’s a valve. It uses smart, effective policies where you need them right now. He gets both.”

White House spokesman Angelo Fernández Hernández declined to address specifics, but told CNN, “Aswe have said before, the administration continues to explore a series of policy options and we remain committed to taking action to address our broken immigration system.”

Immigration advocates debate wider action

As the panic among Biden aides about the drop-off in Latino support has been mounting around the reelection campaign, pressure for more policy moves from Democratic lawmakers and immigrant advocacy groups has beengrowingfor months.

In May, a group of Democratic senators including Sens. Alex Padilla of California, Dick Durbin of Illinois and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada publicly called for protections to be extended to long-term undocumented immigrants in the United States, including the spouses of American citizens and their caregivers.

Padilla said Biden’s actions on the border from Tuesday were a huge disappointment.

“This is the first time that I can recall that a Democratic position is, ‘OK, let’s be all for the border and not fight for relief — for DREAMers, for farmers, or anyone who’s a long-term resident of the United States who happens to be undocumented,” Padilla told CNN after Tuesday’s announcement.

Now Biden shouldn’t wait to make the additional moves, Padilla argued.

“If they were going to take a tough-on-the-border action, they should have paired it with something as thoughtful and responsible — and overdue,” Padilla said.

Advocates who have long been pushing for the moves that are about to be put in front of Biden are now stressing the potential political benefits themselves.

“As we approach the 12th anniversary of the DACA program, President Obama’s decision to take bold executive action to support our nation’s Dreamers remains a masterstroke of political ingenuity and the most successful immigration policy in decades,” said Todd Schulte, president ofFWD.us, in a statement.“Today, President Biden faces a similar pivotal moment.”

Biden nears huge next move on immigration as he tries to win over Latinos in key states | CNN Politics (2024)
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