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JACL Knocks Biden’s Plans to Restrict Immigration

By June 5, 2024No Comments

President Biden speaks May 13, 2024, at a reception for Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month at the Rose Garden at the White House. (Image: C-SPAN)

White House seeks to cap asylum seekers attempting to enter via southern border.

By P.C. Staff

The Japanese American Citizens League pushed back after President Biden’s June 4 announcement of an executive order earlier that day that would enact immediate significant restrictions on migrants seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.

In its statement, the JACL said, “These proposed new policies give in to the worst of our nation’s xenophobic tendencies. Immigration policies throughout history have targeted immigrants from non-European countries, most notoriously with the Chinese Exclusion Act. Recent rhetoric has clearly highlighted false fears of Chinese espionage and the influx of drugs accompanying a so-called invasion of people coming across the border. We cannot allow these xenophobic and racist ideologies to shape our immigration policy.”

The long-anticipated presidential proclamation —seen widely as an attempt to neutralize immigration as a political liability ahead of the November elections — would bar migrants from being granted asylum when U.S. officials deem that the southern border is overwhelmed. The Democratic president had contemplated unilateral action for months after the collapse of a bipartisan border security deal in Congress that most Republican lawmakers rejected at the behest of former President Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

Biden said he preferred more lasting action via legislation but “Republicans have left me no choice.” Instead, he said he was acting on his own to “gain control of the border” while also insisting that “I believe immigration has always been the lifeblood of America.”

Trump “told the Republicans … that he didn’t want to fix the issue, he wanted to use it to attack me,” Biden said. “It was a cynical, extremely cynical, political move and a complete disservice to the American people who are looking for us not to weaponize the border but to fix it.”

The JACL, meantime, said it “strongly urges the Biden administration and Congress to pursue humane and equitable solutions to manage migration effectively, rather than releasing incomplete and problematic half-measures focused on refusal and expulsion. Men, women, and children seeking asylum at the southern border deserve to have their stories heard and cases considered, not to be turned away due to arbitrary numeric limits,” a reference to how the plan would go into effect when the number of border encounters between ports of entry hits 2,500 per day, according to senior administration officials.

That means Biden’s order should go into effect immediately, because the daily averages are higher now. Average daily arrests for illegal crossings from Mexico were last below 2,500 in January 2021, the month Biden took office. The last time the border encounters dipped to 1,500 a day was in July 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The restrictions would be in effect until two weeks after the daily encounter numbers are at or below 1,500 per day between ports of entry, under a seven-day average. Those figures were first reported by the Associated Press on Monday.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the American Bar Association also came out in opposition to Biden’s new immigration policy.

ABA President Mary Smith in a statement released Wednesday said the ABA “strongly opposes” the executive order, which “effectively seals the southern border” when illegal border crossings exceed a seven-day average of 2,500.”

In her statement, Smith said the new policy “violates critical provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act, international law and due process.” It also “jeopardizes the safety of thousands of vulnerable individuals and families on both sides of the border and diminishes America’s longstanding role as a sanctuary for the oppressed,” she said.

The ACLU’s deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, meantime, also released a statement opposing Biden’s action. “We intend to challenge this order in court. It was illegal when Trump did it, and it is no less illegal now,” said Lee Gelernt.

The JACL’s statement concluded with the following: “President Biden once promised that we would ‘restore our moral standing in the world and our historic role as a safe haven for refugees and asylum seekers, and those fleeing violence and persecution.’ Today’s policy falls far short of this promise.”

Ironically, on May 1 — the beginning of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month — Biden called Japan and India “xenophobic” for their respective immigration policies. He credited growth in the U.S. economy in part to policies in which “we welcome immigrants.”

“Think about it. Why is China stalling so bad economically?” he said. “Why is Japan having trouble? Why is India? Because they’re xenophobic. They don’t want immigrants.”

Biden’s statement came just weeks after hosting Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for a summit and state dinner in Washington. In response, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi said his nation had lodged representations to the United States that the comment was not based on the correct understanding of Japan’s policy and regrettable.”

The White House’s June 4 proclamation may be read at

The JACL’s statement may be read at

Associated Press and other sources contributed to this report.