“Biden is going to be dealing with a minority in Congress if he continues down some of these paths,” said one Democratic congressman.
Democrats in Texas and other states where immigration has been a lightning rod issue are growing increasingly uneasy that the White House is walking into a political buzz saw in its zeal to unwind hard-line Trump administration policies.
Biden has not yet implemented expansive policy changes. The vast majority of migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border are still being turned away. Deportations are still taking place and there’s still no pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
But the softer rhetoric and modest changes announced so far by the Biden administration — such as admitting some migrants who have waited in Mexico for months and announcing he would halt deportations — raise the prospects of a new influx of migrants entering the country. There’s already an uptick in migrants heading to the border and some have crossed and been released in some communities already grappling with the pandemic, a strained health care system and high unemployment.
With the White House and Congress set to release a broad immigration reform bill Thursday, some lawmakers fear the party’s messaging and policy proposals are too much, too soon.
“The way we’re doing it right now is catastrophic and is a recipe for disaster in the middle of a pandemic,” said Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, one of the three Texas Democrats who represents part of the border most affected by spikes in migrant arrests and arrivals.
“Our party should be concerned. If we go off the rails, it’s going to be bad for us,” Gonzalez said. “Biden is going to be dealing with a minority in Congress if he continues down some of these paths.”
The worries are most acute along the Texas-Mexico border, which is ground zero for the decades-long immigration debate. It’s also an increasingly contested battleground where Republicans are targeting three Democratic House incumbents who represent border districts.
By Sabrina Rodriguez and Marc Caputo for POLITICO
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