Biden's New Camp for Migrant Children Should Be the End of His Honeymoon

It's either accountability now or fascism later

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In 2008, when Barack Obama and Joe Biden won a landslide victory against John McCain and Sarah Palin on a mantra of Hope and Change, I, like many others, urged everyone to “give them a chance” and let the new guys have some time to undo all the damage their predecessors caused.

When President Obama whiffed on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 by not going big enough on the stimulus bill to help people hit by the recession, I still held out hope that he was Our Guy, and that He Just Needs Time. When Obama refused to fight for the public option during the Affordable Care Act debates in early 2010, I was still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, since governing is messy and sausage-making requires compromise. Even when Obama refused to hold the bankers accountable for the Great Recession, I was still holding out hope that perhaps the midterms would get him a larger majority to really pursue progressive policies.

But when Obama signed an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy, I was exhausted from trying to defend him. And when he sought a “Grand Bargain” with Republican leaders to impose austerity on the working class at the tail end of a devastating recession, I was disgusted.

As Obama showed us, presidents only really have two good years to govern, since presidents typically see their party’s Congressional representation shrink after their first midterm election. And given that Republicans have shown us they’re not above instigating a violent insurrection in order to get their way, it’s imperative that they remain out of power. To do so, Democrats need to work double-time to undo the damage of the Trump administration and give the American people a reason to support them in 2022.

Joe Biden is getting in the way of that.

(Immigrant rights activists demonstrating at the White House in 2018. Photo: Susan Melkisethian/Flickr/Creative Commons 2.0)

The Washington Post just reported that Biden is opening a new border camp for unaccompanied migrant children, despite Biden promising to reunite immigrant children with their families after the Trump administration separated them. A San Antonio-based immigration attorney who represents unaccompanied migrant children told the Post the opening of the facility was “a huge step backward.”

Biden’s new camp is being operated by the nonprofit BCFS Health and Human Services, which has at least 80 recorded health and safety violations over the past three years, according to the Texas Tribune.

President Biden has also come under scrutiny from immigrant rights activists for his recent wave of deportations. Even though Biden pledged a 100-day moratorium on deportations, his administration has nonetheless deported several hundred undocumented immigrants since he took office roughly a month ago.

According to Law & Crime, the Biden administration’s latest guidance to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) signifies “a return to form viz. the enforcement priorities of the Obama administration.” This is worrying, since President Obama deported approximately three million immigrants during his eight years in office. Obama’s harsh deportation policy prompted protests at Biden’s campaign events, including one at a South Carolina town hall in which Biden told an immigration activist upset about deportations, “you should vote for Trump.

Biden’s immigration policy, when combined with other policy disappointments like gaslighting us on $2,000 checks (which are now $1,400 checks that will only go out to Americans who pass rigorous means testing), refusing to use his executive authority to cancel student debt and only committing to the painfully low bar of $10,000, and running away from the $15/hour minimum wage he previously said he would include in Covid relief legislation, mean Biden has painfully little to show for his first month in office outside of a few executive orders and cabinet appointments.

If Biden’s first two years are like Obama’s in that the only push for accountability comes from the left while liberals stay silent, we can be assured of repeating history. Except instead of a Tea Party takeover of Congress in the midterms, it’ll be a Q takeover. And instead of an unemployed game show host attempting ham-fisted fascism from the White House after neoliberalism’s failed run, it will be an actual fascist brutally imposing the worst kind of fascism.

America won’t survive another period of liberal silence. We can either have accountability now, or fascism later.