CATHERINE @ WASHPOST “GETS IT!” — Why Are The Biden Administration & Some Dem Pols “Running Scared” From What Should Be A Big Win? — Many Of The Legal,Workers We Need Are Patiently Waiting @ The Border For Processing & Legal Admission — Dems Need To Stop “Shaking In Their Boots” & Start “Shaking Their Tails” To “Pre-Process” Refugees For An Orderly Restoration Of The Rule Of Law On May 23!

Catherine Rampell
Catherine Rampell
Opinion Columnist
Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/04/11/democrats-missing-real-immigration-threat-workers-economy/

Opinion: Democrats are missing the bigger immigration issue

By Catherine Rampell

Democrats are terrified that a coming border surge might tank their midterm chances.

But they have largely ignored a much more serious immigration-related political risk. The problem in the months ahead isn’t that the United States will allow in too many immigrants; it’s that we’ll admit too few, particularly the kinds of workers who can fill critical labor-market shortages.

The Biden administration recently announced it would soon end Title 42, a Trump-era border-control policy. Citing the public health emergency when it invoked the policy in March 2020, the Trump team used the pandemic as a pretext to expel all arriving migrants without first allowing them to apply for asylum, as they have a legal right to do. Public health experts and immigration advocates — and many elected Democrats — have long condemned the policy, which has been used to carry out more than 1.7 million migrant expulsions.

President Biden’s own appointees have called the policy illegal and inhumane, with multiple high-level officials blasting it when they resigned. But Biden delayed reversing Title 42, fearing bad optics and attacks from Fox News. (Which arguably was going to attack him as an “open borders” president regardless.)

As expected, right-wingers are now catastrophizing about the looming “Armageddon” that will follow Title 42′s unwinding.

As a result, some worried Democrats are demanding that Biden keep this (likely illegal) policy in place. They have been so fixated on bad-faith right-wing attacks that they have missed the bigger, and much more serious, immigration-related liability: the millions of immigrants whose absence from the U.S. workforce is putting upward pressure on inflation.

Which Democrats are being blamed for, and which voters appear to care much more about.

The United States is experiencing inflationary levels not seen in four decades. Americans are unhappy, and they are more than five times as likely to cite “inflation,” “cost of living” or the economy in general than immigration as the nation’s biggest problem. These economic concerns are, however, rooted at least partly in immigration policy.

Worker shortages are pervasive, with vacancies hovering around record highs. The resulting disruptions to supply chains and normal business operations have raised costs for companies and consumers. Some of thesemissingworkers retired; some dropped out of the labor force because of care issues or illness. But a huge chunk were foreign-born workers who either never arrived in the United States in recent years or who were already here but have been forced out of their jobs because of government incompetence.

There are about 1.8 million fewer working-age immigrants in the United States today than would be the case if pre-2020 immigration trends had continued unchanged, economic researchers Giovanni Peri and Reem Zaiour estimate. Unsurprisingly, they also find that industries that had a higher percentage of foreign workers in 2019 — such as hospitality and food services — tend to have higher rates of unfilled jobs now.

These immigrants, legal and otherwise, are “missing” because of a combination of Trump policies, covid-19 (which the Trump administration cited to justify imposing even more immigration restrictions) and Biden’s foot-dragging.

Although Biden pledged more humane and efficient immigration policies when he ran for president, he has been slow to reverse many of President Donald Trump’s onerous paperwork requirements and other policies designed to reduce legal immigration. Biden’s sluggishness owes partly to the magnitude of the challenge of rebuilding the U.S. immigration infrastructure — and partly to that deep Democratic fear of how Fox News et al. might portray any efforts to help immigrants.

As a result, last year, the United States experienced the lowest levels of new international migration in decades, census data shows.

. . . .

A border surge is infinitely more telegenic and attack-ad-friendly than backlogged paperwork. But the missing immigrant workforce is what more directly affects voters’ pocketbooks — and, by extension, Democrats’ political fortunes.

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Read Catherine’s complete article at the link!

There is no need for a self-created “border surge” on May 23! We have a potentially quite efficient asylum screening and adjudication process in our existing law. If it were properly staffed and run, with competent legal and judicial  oversight, asylum seekers would use it — even if “success” is far from guaranteed. 

Experience has shown that asylum seekers in the U.S. who are represented, and therefore understand the system and their obligations, faithfully appear for hearings nearly 100% of the time, even when they appear likely to lose. Just because we as a nation have lost faith in our ability to operate under the the rule of law doesn’t mean that asylum seekers have! Obviously folks who have “hung around” in Mexico, in life-threatening conditions, for months or years, believing in a false promise of future fair and humane treatment by the U.S. aren’t as easily persuaded that our legal system is a sham as are our own politicos, bureaucrats, and pundits.

Sure, folks without asylum claims and those who don’t trust the system will continue to attempt unauthorized entry — particularly if the legal system lacks credibility, thus allowing smugglers to convince migrants to evade it.

But, with a robust asylum system functioning at ports of entry, CBP won’t be diverted by squandering resources “apprehending” (a serious misnomer) individuals who want nothing more than a fair and timely chance to present their asylum claims. CBP can concentrate their resources on those who truly intend to evade the legal system.

Even without the bogus Title 42, the law provides more than adequate tools for dealing with unauthorized entry. Those without documents are subject to “summary removal” by CBP Agents. Those subject to summary removal who claim asylum can be promptly screened for “credible fear” by trained USCIS Asylum Officers. Those who “flunk” credible fear are summarily removed under the existing order. Those who “pass” can be funneled into the legal asylum system and processed accordingly.

If you are a believer in “deterrence theory” for migrants who don’t have credible asylum claims, then the “expedited summary removal process” provides just that. No need to illegally invoke Title 42!

If the Obama, Trump, and now Biden Administrations had spent time and resources training Asylum Officers and reforming the Immigration Courts, instead of screwing around with futile (sometimes illegal) “enforcement only” gimmicks, idiotic walls, inhumane, expensive detention, inane messaging, and deterrence, there wouldn’t be largely manufactured “border emergencies.” Just a variety of fairly predictable “humanitarian situations” and opportunities to show how the rule of law works in a functioning democracy.

For example, the much feared and ballyhooed “caravan” that had Trump scared out of his (already limited) wits moved in “slow motion” to the border. A competent Administration could have processed them fairly, humanely, and timely upon arrival or shortly thereafter. Indeed, a competent Administration probably would have worked with the Mexican authorities and the UNHCR to have processed members of  those “caravans” for refugee status, in an orderly manner, at a point in Mexico well-removed from our border!

If, after truly fair, humane, and timely processing at ports of entry few qualified (I deem this unlikely under a truly fair and  competent system, but perhaps possible, who really knows, since we have been “chicken” to fairly adjudicate asylum claims from Latin American and the Caribbean for many years), then there’s your “legal deterrent” (for those who believe in deterrents) to those who might seek to come in the future.

“Caravans” don’t cross the border irregularly unless legal ports or entry are closed or de facto unvailable to them. Even then, most asylum seekers in caravans would prefer to wait for legal processing if it were available in a predictable, orderly, humane, fair, and timely manner. The Trump kakistocracy’s decision NOT to follow asylum laws and procedures at ports of entry actually caused unnecessary chaos, created danger, and provoked and encouraged unauthorized entries. The Biden Administration has, unfathomably, followed in Trump’s footsteps!

The “missing piece” for decades, across Administrations of both parties, has been a robust, realistic, well-staffed “outside the US” refugee processing system for Latin America and the Caribbean. If we REALLY don’t want folks “trying their luck” on asylum at the border, then give them honest and prompt answers to their refugee claims in or nearer to the countries in conflict they are fleeing.

The current law is by no means perfect. But, it’s a whole lot better than the politicos and bureaucrats who, for most of the past four decades, have failed to take straightforward, achievable steps to “make it work.” Refugee admissions overseas, and asylum admissions in the U.S. and at our borders, are a key element of our legal immigration system. It’s time to stop pretending otherwise!

And, as Catherine cogently points out, rapidly approving work authorizations and all types of applications for legal immigration under existing law also should have been “low hanging fruit” for the Biden Administration. A group of summer college students could have been trained in short order to wipe out the backlog of Employment Authorization Documents (“EADs”) during the summer of 2021. 

Even now, with just a little initiative, creativity, and energy, USCIS could hire and train summer employees to handle many routine and repetitive “adjudications.” All “adjudications” are NOT equal! EAD backlogs, intentionally created by the Trump kakistocracy, are totally unnecessary and inexcusable under Biden. 

How many retired Asylum Officers, USCIS Adjudicators with asylum experience, retired Immigration Judges, retired BIA staff attorneys, and retired Congressional immigration staffers has USCIS “rehired” during the past year to prepare for the reopening of the border?  If they haven’t, why not? It’s not too late to get more qualified individuals on board temporarily and give them to tools they need to fairly and timely process credible fear cases. 

How many agreements has USCIS entered with NGOs to prescreen, organize into orderly lists, and, where necessary, represent individuals now waiting at or near the Southern Border. If not, why not get some of those agreements into effect on an “expedited” basis by next Monday?

In Government, everything seems to be a candidate for bogus “expedited treatment” EXCEPT common sense, readily available measures that actually solve problems! Why is that? What’s an Administration that got elected by claiming “Government can work” going to do to prove that before May 23! Stop “making excuses for failure” and start solving problems!

It’s not rocket science! Dems must stop “hand wringing” about what they didn’t do in the last year and start making the system work under current conditions. That’s what “good government” is supposed to do! 

Poland, a country of fewer than 40 million about the size of a large U.S. state, was able to handle 4-5 million Ukrainian refugees in a matter of weeks. Meanwhile the US is “paralyzed” by the idea that 60,000 might apply with more than a month of lead time to prepare, and a established, if now suspended, legal framework to use. Not to mention that Biden had more than a year’s “advance notice” that the asylum system would need rebuilding and rejuvenation at the Souther border. Gimmie a break! The Biden Administration was put in office largely to “make Government work” — not to mindlessly repeat GOP White Nationalist “woe is me” talking points!

On a smaller scale, religious organizations and voluntary agencies mobilized and organized almost overnight to assist the U.S. Government in processing Ukrainian refugees at the border. Why couldn’t those efforts be expanded and replicated for the largely non-White refugee hopefuls currently waiting? Why create an “emergency” that needn’t be? Why not put more time, effort, and creativity into ACHIEVING success, rather than thinking of excuses for anticipated failure or shifting blame to the “victims?”

Honestly, as the late, great political pundit
Casey Stengel
 would have said, “can’t anyone here play this game?”

Casey Stengel
“Time and time again, the Biden Administration’s inept and unprincipled approach to immigration and human rights leaves this guy scratching his head.”
PHOTO: Rudi Reit
Creative Commons

Also, Catherine Rampell understands the complex issues of immigration better than any “top level” official in the Biden Administration that I’m aware of. If they aren’t going to hire her, they should at least heed her advice. It’s free, accessible, clearly and succinctly written, and almost always “spot on!”

🇺🇸Due Process Forever!

PWS

04-14-22

CATHERINE @ WASHPOST “GETS IT!” — Why Are The Biden Administration & Some Dem Pols “Running Scared” From What Should Be A Big Win? — Many Of The Legal,Workers We Need Are Patiently Waiting @ The Border For Processing & Legal Admission — Dems Need To Stop “Shaking In Their Boots” & Start “Shaking Their Tails” To “Pre-Process” Refugees For An Orderly Restoration Of The Rule Of Law On May 23!