According to a survey by a Democratic firm, 66 percent of likely midterm voters disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of Immigration issues.
The new poll was commissioned by the immigrant advocacy organization NILC Immigrant Ju Fund and first provided to NBC News. It comes days ahead of Biden’s State of the Union speech in which he will outline his priorities and highlight his administration's accomplishments over the past year. All this while a conflict is still ongoing in Ukraine, as Russia continues to its relentless assault.
The survey found that 71% of respondents believed immigration reform should be a very or very high priority for Congress and the White House. Impact Research conducted the survey of 802 likely voters in 2022. It was founded by John Anzalone (Biden's chief pollster), and was conducted between February 10-17. Anzalone did not participate in the firm's poll. The margin of error was +/- 3.5 percentage.
Briannon Gillis (political director of the Immigrant Ju Fund, an advocacy arm of National Immigration Law Center), argued that voters would be open to Biden taking more aggressive actions before the midterms in order to overturn the policies of former President Donald Trump.
Gillis stated that the Biden administration's lack of action has been a political mistake. She urged the president to emphasize immigration again in his State of the Union speech this week.
Gillis suggested that Biden could take additional executive actions to make immigration legislation a priority again before the midterms. However, Gillis described the administration's approach as "overly cautious" or "tiptoeing” around immigration issues.
Vedant Patel, White House spokesperson, stated that while everyone agrees that the immigration system is in dire need of reform, making the changes necessary won't happen overnight. "The Administration is committed to continuing to work day in and day out in order to provide relief for immigrants and bring our immigration program into the 21st Century."
After taking office, Biden stopped Trump's wall construction and signed three executive order which the administration said would reverse Trump's "moral failings". He also reversed the travel ban on most Muslim countries and established the Family Reunification Task Force. However, he was stopped by the courts and Congress from any further immigration reforms.
In the meantime, immigration rights groups have laughed at Trump's recent decision to extend Trump-era Title 42 , which allows asylum seekers to return to the US due to public health concerns.
Biden was rated at 41% in favor of the survey. This suggests that there is broad support for changing more Trump-era policies. 52 percent said they supported ending Title 42 and 53 percent said they supported reverseing Trump's era policy of "remain-in-Mexico" which compels asylum seekers into staying in Mexico until their cases have been heard by immigration courts. Federal judges have rejected the Biden administration's attempts to reverse this policy. This matter is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Sixty-four per cent of respondents said they supported creating pathways to citizenship for undocumented immigrant immigrants.
Democrats control both the White House as well as both chambers of Congress with slim majority support. They have tried to make changes by trying to include immigration reform provisions within a larger package that includes climate and social safety net legislation, which Biden has called his Build Back Better Agenda. The House debated the issue, but a Senate rule prevented the inclusion of the provisions in a bill that could be passed with only Democratic senators or a simple majority. Senate rules require 60 votes to pass most types of legislation. Republican legislators have voiced their opposition the Democrats' attempts to reform our immigration system.
Since Biden's inception, Republicans have been attacking Biden on immigration. He proposed a broad immigration reform bill which the Senate Republicans called a "nonstarter". This accusation of Biden of having an "open" border policy was repeated over and over again in conservative media coverage.
Biden doesn't have an open border strategy. Immigrant rights' groups instead complain about the extension of Title 42 by the administration and press for Biden to allow more refugees in the country.
According to the NILC-commissioned survey Trump scored a higher mark with his base (86 percent positive) for how he dealt with immigration issues than Biden (54 percent approval).
The two men were close when it came to independents. Trump was at 21 percent approval and Biden at 19%. This meant that Biden could gain support from his base while not alienating independents, according to the group.
Will Dempster, communication director at the NILC Immigrant Justice Fund said that the poll doesn't support the "propaganda" coming from Republicans about the border and the need to maintain some of these policies. "This is an opportunity to make changes that will resonate with voters as well as independent voters.
Gillis suggested that a "Democratic Trifecta" at the White House and Congress should result in more concrete results.
"The mandate was given to the Biden-Harris administration. Gillis stated that they made campaign promises, and voters want them to keep those promises. Providing the promised results would be a political win.