We’re Only a ‘Nation of Immigrants’ When It’s Convenient

Justin Ward
3 min readSep 23, 2021
(Twitter / @moleburps )

The Democrats are the party that stands for immigrants and other marginalized groups — so long as there are no political costs involved. During the presidential campaign, Joe Biden denounced the naked cruelty of Donald Trump’s immigration policy loudly and often. The 2020 election was framed as a choice between a compassionate administration that would treat immigrants fairly and a monstrous nativist who separates families and cages children.

In his campaign literature, stump speeches and public statements, Biden frequently invoked the idea that the United States is a “nation of immigrants.” Biden promised to create a “fair and humane immigration system” to undo the damage caused by Trump’s “cruel and senseless” policies.

But when push comes to shove, all this flowery talk about ideals and values is exposed as nothing but empty rhetoric.

Though Biden attempted to signal a reset on immigration with some early executive actions, we’re back to business as usual. Facing an influx of migrants and mounting pressure from the right, Biden has the deportation machine running at full steam.

The thousands of Haitian refugees awaiting processing under a bridge at the Texas border represent the biggest test of Biden’s commitment to immigration and asylum reform — and he’s failing.

Biden promised a clean break from Trump’s policies, but his administration is using the same tools and tactics, such as the “remain in Mexico” policy. Federal officials are also relying on Title 42, the brainchild of infamous white nationalist Trump adviser Stephen Miller, to fast-track Haitians for deportation.

Using the pandemic as a pretext, Title 42 allows for the “expedited removal” of Haitians, swiftly returning them to the abject misery that reigns on the Caribbean island in the wake of a catastrophic earthquake and presidential assassination.

The year isn’t over and the Biden Administration has expelled nearly 600,000 people. That’s twice as many as Trump deported in any given year of his administration.

When images came out showing border patrol agents on horseback using bridle reins like whips to corral Haitian refugees, top officials in the Biden Administration bemoaned their…

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Justin Ward

Journalist and activist. Founder and co-chair of DivestSPD. Bylines at SPLC, The Baffler, GEN, USA Today. Follow on Twitter: @justwardoctrine, @DivestSPD