While watching the Democratic National Convention, I felt profoundly lost. This was a party I’ve identified with for years, felt proud to be a part of. Yet as I watched the speakers go on and on about how important it was to elect Biden, our savior in the Trump-era, I felt my connection to the party sever.
The leftist ideals I associated with the Democratic party were somehow too radical for the party itself. I watched the stories of immigrants, crossing the border in dangerous conditions, children separated from their families. I watched the Democratic party blame President Trump for these, failing to mention the millions of immigrants Obama deported and the families detained during the Obama-Biden administration.
In fact, by the end of Obama’s administration, he had removed 3,307,017 unauthorized immigrants, without affording them the opportunity of legal return in the future. This is almost more than Bush and Clinton’s total unauthorized immigrant removals combined. Obama was also the one who had built the detention facilities abused by Trump. I began to question whether the Democratic party’s stance on immigration was as progressive as it touted — people-first and deconstructing the inherent racialization of immigration policy.
Joe Biden recently published his stance on immigration and the policies he wants to enact. He begins with an attack on Trump – his moral failings and destruction of the “melting pot” we like to call the United States. Biden is set on undoing everything Trump has done, and even further, deconstructing the false narratives around immigration that are perpetuated by Republican political rhetoric.
Biden reminds us that most undocumented immigrants are those who have overstayed their visas. He acknowledges the harm that the Obama administration had caused, specifically against Latin American immigrants. He posits that he will do what he can to support these countries, to make seeking asylum much easier, to make the process of naturalization easier, to modernize immigration, to change screening processes to “keep America safe,”
Biden’s stance on immigration felt surprising; I went in looking for a Republican in Democrat’s clothing, but found that perhaps, in some ways, this party stood for what I stood for.
That said, Biden still fails to address the true reason why migration happens in the first place, specifically from Latin America to the United States. He neglects to mention the U.S. imperialism and neoliberal intervention that created the political instability and violence that are driving people out of their home countries with hopes of finding safety elsewhere.
Instead, they find themselves criminalized in a country that they thought would welcome them with open arms. They find themselves hunted down by ICE, thrown into detention centers with little to no access to necessary amenities. These detention centers are now hubs for infection during the COVID-19 pandemic, as being kept in tight quarters without access to any healthcare makes it harder to keep themselves safe from a deadly virus. They find their rights violated, treated and spoken about as less than human.
Biden says he’ll try to fight the latter half, to protect these migrants from human rights violations, to hold ICE accountable and to a higher standard, to find more community friendly alternatives to the detention centers that make up a part of the criminal justice system that doesn’t need to exist. But he does this at the cost of saving face, refusing to hold the United States accountable for their actions, their failings, and their destruction.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is not the man of the people. He does not represent the left or the needs of the working class. But maybe it isn’t all bad. Immigration reform is a necessity in a post-Trump United States, after having four years of echoing how Latinx immigrants are “animals” and how we need to “build the wall.”
The unfortunate part of this is, even if Biden wins the elections, his immigration proposals may never get passed. He’ll be able to undo the damage President Trump has done, but it seems as if no meaningful legislation will get passed with a gridlocked, polarized government. Biden will try to utilize executive orders, like both Trump and Obama, but they are limited in scope and effectiveness and can easily be undone by his successors.
At best, Biden will be damage control. He’s not the president we want, but he’s our only choice. And, if we want to see a U.S. that is slightly more equitable, that treats their immigrants with the dignity that every human deserves, he’s who we need.
Last updated 9/5/20
Read more politics: