NDLON to Biden: ``Take it back. Start over. And this time, lead with courage not fear...”

For Immediate Release // Please Excuse Cross Postings
December 24th, 2020

Media Contact:
Viridiana Vidal (702) 206-2110 // vvidal@ndlon.org

(Los Angeles, CA) – In Response to President-elect Biden’s statement on December 22 that, “The last thing we need is to say we’re going to stop immediately the access to asylum the way it’s being run now and end up with 2 million people on our borders,” Pablo Alvarado of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) issued the following statement directed to President-elect Biden and his transition team:

“We had hoped to withhold any and all public disagreement until you are officially sworn into office on January 20th, but your divisive and irresponsible remarks on Tuesday warrant a response.

“After enduring four years of the most bigoted, anti-immigrant presidency in modern history, we recognize the magnitude of effort it will take to turn things around. We need new laws from a broken congress, we need a robust exercise of executive authority even though rogue federal immigration enforcement agencies might contravene your directives, and we will need buy-in from an American public that has been sold a pack of lies about immigrants by a racist demagogue and a complicit news media. Above all though, to achieve these policy changes that our country desperately needs— and those that we know you support in your heart— we need clear and unambiguous leadership from you, the President-elect.

“Many held their noses as members of your transition team recently rolled-out a carefully-deployed interview meant to both discourage prospective migrants from traveling to the US and to manage expectations domestically. We understand you are asking for time and space to do the complex work required to repair the damage caused by decades of barbaric border and interior enforcement. We appreciate the enormity of these challenges, and like others, we will work with you to sequence reforms as appropriate. But your rhetoric yesterday was simply unacceptable and counterproductive to our shared goals.

“We call upon you today to:

(1) Take back your misguided statement that millions of people will arrive on our border if we do the right thing and immediately respect the basic human rights of those who are defending their lives and those of their families;

(2) Be unequivocal in conveying that immigrants and refugees are an asset— not a threat— to the national interest; and

(3) Make good on your campaign promises by starting, right now, to protect immigrant and refugee rights to the maximum extent permitted by law.

“The Obama-Biden Administration contributed to the catastrophe we are experiencing when it made a misguided decision to deter refugees and asylum-seekers. Among other things, this policy framework put the interests of the millions of undocumented immigrants in direct tension with the interests of prospective migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers, and it created the misperception that immigrant and native born citizen interests were in tension. Dreamers were blamed for the punishment of their families, and all undocumented workers were told that if they received more rights or benefits, they would become ‘magnets’ attracting a torrential flow of Others. This wrongheaded approach failed. Instead of Comprehensive Immigration Reform, we got record deportations, the misguided Secure Communities program, and the advent of migrant family imprisonment. It was a failure that frankly contributed to Trumpism.

“We opposed your policies and rhetoric then, and even though we paid a price as we were shunned by the Obama-Biden Administration because of it, we will oppose you again with all of the vigor we can muster if you persist in pursuing the same divisive approach. Following four years of Trumpism, a once-in-a-generation pandemic, and catastrophic storms in Central America, and an economic depression for millions of families left behind by a grotesquely unequal society, we have a human rights crisis of unprecedented magnitude in our country and in our hemisphere. We can rise to the challenge of responding as Americans, together, but we cannot do it if you start your term by making Trump’s argument for him.

“The central position of xenophobes is fear. The central position of migrants-immigrants and refugees alike- is courage. You have a choice to make, Mr President-elect: You can side with the nativists or you can side with those of us who have labored to make this a country an experiment that others from around the world seek to join. At this point, there is no middle ground. Unity will require an ironclad repudiation of fear-mongering.

“You won the election. We won it. Together. Now we can and should act like it. We pledge to help with the work ahead. When it comes to immigration policy, we ask with all due respect that you start over, and this time, begin with courage and unity and not with fear and division. Millions of immigrants are keeping the lights on in this country despite the hatred, terror, and bigotry directed against them. It’s time for you to summon their spirit and determination, and lead.”