In the upcoming 2024 presidential elections, Democratic candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and current President Joe Biden have different views on the issue of immigration.
Kennedy believes that the root cause of the immigration crisis is the US policies that create desperate conditions in other countries, such as the War on Drugs, unpayable debts, and neoliberal extraction of resources. He plans to change these policies as president to solve the border crisis in the long term.
On the other hand, Biden’s policies are seen as Trump-like, with his proposed new rules making all people ineligible to claim asylum at the southern border unless they follow a strict set of guidelines.
These guidelines require asylum seekers to use a smartphone app called CBP One to schedule an appointment to enter the US at an official border crossing, and they must prove that they have sought asylum in another country before arriving at the US border.
This policy is called a “transit ban” and was adopted by Trump.
US law clearly states that anyone physically present in the United States, irrespective of their status, can apply for asylum, but the Biden administration’s new rules contradict this.
The CBP One app has also been plagued with problems, such as facial recognition software that has difficulty registering people with darker skin.
Additionally, not everyone has a smartphone with internet access, and reservations are scarce, especially for families.
Senator Ed Markey has called on Homeland Security to cease using the app, as it raises troubling issues of inequitable access to asylum and has significant technical problems and privacy concerns.
Despite opposition from members of Biden’s own party, the administration argues that these changes are necessary to manage the unprecedented numbers of people arriving daily at the southern border due to the climate emergency and political instability.
The problem, however, is that Trump-era thinking still frames the debate on immigration, and Biden’s policies have relied on the “Remain in Mexico” policy, locking up migrant children, and keeping the border closed by invoking Title 42.
Biden proposed a harsh replacement for the Title 42 policy that radically limits asylum at the border when the Trump scheme ended in May.
The Times published a story about a major investigation into migrant-child labor in the United States that details a “shadow work force” of minors who immigrate to the country without their parents and are funneled into grueling jobs, often with large corporations, that violate child-labor laws.
“On this broader question of unaccompanied children, the Times story is horrific. The idea that there are still children out there laboring in the United States in these really exploitative situations is terrible,” said Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, the policy director at the American Immigration Council, which advocates for better treatment of immigrants.
“When Biden took office, he should have said, Look, this is ridiculous. We should be using immigration laws to deal with immigration issues, and migrants are not posing any greater risk of spreading covid than the hundreds of thousands of people who are entering the U.S. at lawful ports of entry every single day,” said Reichlin-Melnick. “The administration didn’t do that.”
“We have spent the past decade pouring money into the border-security apparatus in an effort to deter asylum seekers,” said Reichlin-Melnick. “It hasn’t worked because we’ve spent all of that money on border security and we’ve spent almost none on actually building a functional and working humanitarian-protection system on the back end. And now we’ve got a two-million-case backlog, more than six hundred thousand asylum applications with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and three million people on ice’s non-detained docket.”
Kennedy’s stance on immigration highlights the need to change US policies that create desperate conditions in other countries, which ultimately drive immigration into the United States.
We have to stop seeing the world in terms of enemies and adversaries, according to Kennedy.
As John Quincy Adams wrote, “Americans go not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.” Robert F. Kennedy will revive a lost thread of American foreign policy thinking, the one championed by his uncle, John F. Kennedy who, over his 1000 days in office, had become a firm anti-imperialist.
He wanted to exit Vietnam. He defied the Joint Chiefs of Staff and refused to bomb Cuba, thus saving us from nuclear Armageddon. He wanted to reverse the imperialistic policies of Truman and Eisenhower, rein in the CIA, and support freedom movements around the world. He wanted to revive Roosevelt’s impulse to dissolve the British empire rather than take it over.
“John F. Kennedy’s vision was tragically cut short by an assassin’s bullet. But now we have another chance,” said Kennedy . “The country is ailing, yes, but underneath there is vitality still. America is a land rich in resources, creativity, and intelligence. We just need to get serious about healing our society, to become strong again from the inside.”
“America was once an inspiration to the world, a beacon of freedom and democracy. Our priority will be nothing less than to restore our moral leadership,” said Kennedy . “We will lead by example. When a warlike imperial nation disarms of its own accord, it sets a template for peace everywhere. It is not too late for us to voluntarily let go of empire and serve peace instead, as a strong and healthy nation.”
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