Progressive lawmakers have turned on the Biden administration this week following reports the White House is considering restoring the Trump-era policy of detaining migrant families, accusing the president of reneging on a key campaign promise and warning him against returning to the “failed policies of the past.”
“Locking immigrant families and children into cages along the border is dangerous, ineffective, and wrong,” Rep. Greg Casar (D-Texas), a newly minted House progressive, wrote on Twitter. “It is dangerous and wrong to incarcerate refugee children, regardless of political party.”
The posting was retweeted by the Justice Democrats, the organization that helped elect Casar, as well as “Squad” members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Cori Bush of Missouri.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus, which is led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus also released a statement urging the president not to revive the policy.
“We are deeply concerned by reports that the Biden Administration is considering reinstating family detention in an attempt to deter migration,” the statement said. “We agree with [Homeland Security] Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorkas when he said, ‘A detention center is not where a family belongs.’ We should not return to the failed policies of the past.”
“There is no safe or humane way to detain families and children, and such detention does not serve as a deterrent to migration,” the members added. “We strongly urge the administration to reject this wrongheaded approach.”
Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.), another freshman member of the Progressive Caucus, separately tweeted that the detention policy is devoid of “humanity.”
“We abandoned this policy for a reason- it’s incapable of offering humanity and compassion to migrants when they need it most. I am disgusted and disappointed that our nation would even consider reinstating something that has been PROVEN to cause lasting harm to migrant families,” the 26-year-old wrote on the social media platform.
Reports began circulating earlier this week that Biden, 80, was mulling bringing back the policy of detaining migrant families who cross illegally into the United States after he shut down the practice following his inauguration in 2021.
The White House is up against a hard May 11 deadline to create a replacement for Title 42, which allowed border officials to quickly deport migrants who entered the US illegally on the grounds they may spread COVID-19.
But Title 42 will become moot when the national COVID-19 pandemic emergency formally ends, which many predict will lead to an acceleration of migration that the government will be hard pressed to handle.
More than 2 million illegal immigrants have been expelled under Title 42 since it was put in effect in March 2020.
Biden, running for the Democratic presidential nomination in June 2020, reacted to reports that children were being released from detention centers but not their parents.
“Children should be released from ICE detention with their parents immediately. This is pretty simple, and I can’t believe I have to say it: Families belong together,” he wrote on Twitter.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre wouldn’t confirm the reports that Biden was thinking about reinstating the policy, calling them “rumors.”
”Clearly, the Department of Homeland Security is working through ways on how to move forward once Title 42 is lifted. I’m just not going to get into speculations,” she told reporters Tuesday. “I’m going to let them do their work.”
However, she added, the president wants to “build an immigration system that’s, again, safe, orderly, and humane.”