Ruben Navarrette: With Biden running immigration policy, new boss is the same as the old boss

From the commentary: Those of us who want immigration reform ... aren't supposed to express our frustrations out loud.

U.S. President Joe Biden in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Monday, May 9, 2022.
U.S. President Joe Biden in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Monday, May 9, 2022.
Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS
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SAN DIEGO — Bah humbug! On the immigration issue, President Biden has turned into a real Scrooge.

Ruben Navarrete column logo
Ruben Navarrete column logo
Kit Grode / Tribune graphic
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Biden has broken campaign promises, reversed course on reforms, made false claims about what's going on at the border, pretended that his enforcement tactics are more humane than those of President Donald Trump, rolled back protections for migrants, denied refugees a path to asylum and adopted some of the same Trump policies that he once pledged to end.

One minute, Biden is fixing sections of Trump's "big, beautiful wall" on the U.S.-Mexico border — despite criticizing the international barrier and pledging not to build any more of it.

The next minute, Biden is preserving Title 42, which was created by the Public Health Service Act of 1944 to "protect public health" by keeping out foreigners.

It was a federal judge, and not the administration, that ordered the termination of Title 42 by Dec. 21.


It's politics. The Democrat is terrified of being seen as soft on immigration. In an election year, he has wanted no part of video footage of migrants rushing across the U.S.-Mexico border.

It's Biden's good fortune whenever the federal courts tell him he can't follow through with a controversial reform measure that the pro-immigration left supports. The president gets to shrug and say: "Oh well, I tried. The courts stopped me." It's classic Biden: Do nothing, then seek credit for doing nothing.

That's what happened earlier this year when the Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration from implementing a directive from the Homeland Security Department. The order paused deportations for individuals unless they committed acts of terrorism or espionage, or posed "egregious threats to public safety." When the justices told the administration that it had overstepped, there must have been relief at the White House.

But what happens when the courts don't stop the administration from pushing a reform? Then it's code red. Panicked advisers start leafing through ketchup-stained blueprints from the last administration to create their own Trump-like policies, which they rebrand with new names.

In June, the Supreme Court backed the Biden administration's attempt to end the "Remain in Mexico" policy, which Trump used to house asylum seekers south of the border. Biden suspended the program shortly after taking office in January 2021, but state governors demanded its reinstatement. The justices — by a 5-4 vote — gave Biden the green light to rescind the policy and welcome asylum seekers onto U.S. soil. But according to news reports, the White House is instead trying to come up with ways to keep asylum seekers and other migrants out of the United States.

It's another Biden betrayal of the pro-immigrant crowd that helped get him elected. What a weasel this guy turned out to be.

There I go again. Whenever I criticize a Democrat, White liberals tell me they're "disappointed" — as if this Mexican American columnist were a social science project gone awry.

They're not the only ones who are disappointed. Biden has been a huge letdown to Latinos on immigration, which may help explain why so many of us are fleeing to the Republican Party.


It won't be as easy for the GOP to disappoint us, because we expect so little. Republicans spend their time pandering to racists and declaring an invasion on the U.S.-Mexico border. It's rich that the GOP — which relies on campaign contributions from businesses that rely on immigrant labor — portrays Biden as presiding over an open border while its benefactors at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce hold up "Help Wanted" signs.

Those of us who want immigration reform, and who think the real "immigration problem" in this country is that Americans aren't honest about our dependence on undocumented workers, aren't supposed to express our frustrations out loud.

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From the commentary: (The judge) said he’d alert everyone when his ruling was coming. ... And that he would give everyone a chance to respond before he released the report, if (it was to be) released.

Or we might be told that we should go vote for Trump — who just so happens to be running for president again.

That's what presidential candidate Biden told immigration activist Carlos Rojas at a town hall in Greenwood, S.C., in November 2019. When Rojas expressed concern that President Barack Obama deported about 3 million people — while Biden served as vice president — Biden cut him off. "You should vote for Trump," he told Rojas. "You should vote for Trump."

What an insult. Now, more than three years later, the question is not whether Latinos who want a more humane immigration policy should vote for Trump. It's why any of them should ever again cast a vote for Biden.

This commentary is Ruben Navarrette's opinion. He can be reached at

© 2022, The Washington Post Writers Group


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Related Topics: COMMENTARY
Opinion by Ruben Navarrette
Ruben Navarrette is the most widely read Latino columnist in the country, and the 16th most popular columnist in America according to Media Matters. He is a nationally syndicated columnist with The Washington Post Writers Group whose twice-a-week column appears in nearly 150 newspapers, a contributor to USA Today and FOXNEWS.COM, and a columnist for the Daily Beast.

Mr. Navarrette can be reached
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