Biden Will Lose Democrat Support If He Doesn’t Deport Illegal Immigrants: Rep. Henry Cuellar

Biden Will Lose Democrat Support If He Doesn't Deport Illegal Immigrants: Rep. Henry Cuellar


The Biden administration’s border and immigration policies have his base of Democrat supporters divided, and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) warned the president could lose support within his party if he doesn’t find a way to more rapidly process and deport illegal immigrants.

In an interview with CNN on Wednesday, Mr. Cuellar said the Biden administration and many members of Congress are “listening too much to the immigration activists” but they haven’t listened enough to people from border communities like his, which includes Laredo, Texas, and other portions of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Mr. Cuellar said one problem at the border lies with the existing U.S. immigration policies. He said only about 13 percent of immigration cases end in immigrants being allowed to remain in the United States, but each case can take years to adjudicate.

“Why are we processing hundreds of thousands of people where at the end of the day, which I’m talking about four or five years from now, they’re not going to be accepted?”

Mr. Cuellar said the other problem at the border is the attitudes and perceptions migrants have about how the U.S. immigration process will eventually play out.

“Right now they feel that all they have to do is get to the border, and then they’ll be processed and sent to the interior and then wait for five or six years to have a hearing where 87 percent will be rejected,” he said. “And that’s where we’re losing Democrats. They feel that the Democratic Party, that the president is not doing enough, and we’re going to lose a lot of Democrats, and it’s because we’re not doing the right thing at the border.”

Outcome of Immigration Cases

In many instances, immigration cases end with a ruling in absentia, after an immigration applicant has stopped appearing for scheduled court dates. According to Department of Justice data, about 50 percent of immigration cases ended with in absentia removal orders in fiscal year 2020. The rate of in absentia removal orders fell to 10 percent in fiscal year 2021, but returned to 33 percent in fiscal year 2023.

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Of the 177,149 total immigration cases handled in fiscal year 2020, 87,741 ended with in absentia removal orders. Of the 479,116 total immigration cases handled in fiscal year 2023, there were 159,379 in absentia removal orders.

During the interview, CNN anchor Erica Hill noted a recent Monmouth University poll which found 50 percent of Democrats approved of President Biden’s handling of immigration, while 47 percent of Democrats disapproved.

“We’re losing Democrats, people that are frustrated, frustrated, because they’re not seeing what should be done at the border,” Mr. Cuellar said. “Look, we want to see law and order at the border and still treat the migrants with respect and dignity. But they’ve got to follow the rules.”

Biden Must Decide ‘Who He Wants to Lose’

When asked what policy changes he’d recommend for the president, Mr. Cuellar likened the solution to controlling the flow of water from a faucet.

“What we’ve got to do is turn off the faucet, and the only way you can do this, with all due respect, is you’ve got to detain people, give them their court hearing, and if they have to be deported, with all due respect, get them deported, because at the end of the day 87 percent will be rejected,” he said. “So why are we delaying this for four or five years, where a lot of them are not going to show up?”

Asked about President Biden’s willingness to take on stricter immigration policies, Mr. Cuellar said “it depends who he wants to lose.

“Does he want to lose folks here at the border? Or does he—is he worried about other folks,” the Texas Democrat added.

Immigration policy has been a key subject of debate in recent congressional discussions.

President Biden recently proposed tying about $14 billion in new funding for border and immigration personnel to a $105 billion spending supplemental that would have included about $61 billion in additional U.S. aid to Ukraine and tens of billions more for other causes.

Congressional Republicans rejected the proposal for more immigration and border funding, instead demanding policy changes that would impose tighter controls over the asylum process and parole programs that allow temporary entry into the United States. Many Republicans also called for the passage of legislation to resume border wall construction, potentially putting President Biden at odds with a campaign pledge that “there will not be another foot of wall constructed on my administration.”

Earlier in December, as border negotiations mounted, President Biden said he was willing to “make significant compromises on the border,” including policy changes. But some Latino Democrats and immigration activists warned against President Biden making too many concessions.

“We are deeply concerned that the President would consider advancing Trump-era immigration policies that Democrats fought so hard against—and that he himself campaigned against—in exchange for aid to our allies that Republicans already support,” Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.) said in a joint Dec. 11 press statement. “Caving to demands for these permanent damaging policy changes as a ‘price to be paid’ for an unrelated one-time spending package would set a dangerous precedent.”

Vanessa Cárdenas, executive director of the pro-immigration group America’s Voice, told The Guardian that President Biden should expand legal immigration pathways and work permits rather than “cave” to Republican demands, and warned that if the president does make too many concessions to Republicans, he could risk alienating progressives Democrat voters.

From NTD News

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