CHICAGO — The city here is so overwhelmed by the influx of immigrants that it has issued a state of emergency. New York Governor Kathy Hochul has done the same. Philadelphia prepares for a new stream of buses carrying migrants. And New York City Mayor Eric Adams temporarily suspended the city’s right to housing law.
The immigration crisis fueled by the end of Covid-era immigration restrictions known as Title 42 affects not only border cities, but extends more than 1,000 miles from the nation’s southern border.
And it all has the eyes of the nation focused squarely on the White House when politics ends Thursday night.
The left and right flanks of the immigration debate, who disagree on nothing else, agree that President Joe Biden has mishandled this crisis. Not only does it touch on the issue of the immigration lightning rod, but it touches on the issue of Biden’s competition, and critics say it is reminiscent of the failed withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“It’s a big deal for Biden. Forget about states like New York and Illinois, where he will win. There is a feeling that things are out of control. Add in crime and you have a recipe for computable disaster,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a New York City Democratic strategist. “People hate when things are out of control. It doesn’t matter who the president is, when things get out of hand, the president tends to lose.»
The shock is spreading deep into the states, a phenomenon exacerbated by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Abbott has said his frontier border cities are about to explode and he is busing migrants, something he started unannounced last fall, to northern cities that have been deemed sanctuary cities.
It’s a political no-win situation for the White House, which is caught between its immigration activist allies on the one hand, who called former President Barack Obama the «deporter-in-chief,» and the desire of conservatives to crack down like the migrant. tent camps grow far from the border. Biden has taken some steps to prepare for a sharp increase in asylum claims, including setting up processing centers in Guatemala and Colombia before migrants reach the US-Mexico border.
Title 8, the immigration law in place before the pandemic, will take effect once Title 42 is lifted. Title 8 allows immigrants to apply for ways to legally enter the U.S. and also imposes penalties for trying to cross the border illegally.
Still, advocates complain that housing crises are reaching a climax, social service agencies are stretched, city and state budgets are exploding, and local officials are grappling with rejection of their voters.
“Everyone is at the maximum capacity,” said María Del Rosario Salgado, a Justice Department-accredited representative at the Centro Romero legal aid fund in Chicago. “There is not enough food. Some of our staff are donating time, cooking batches of rice or beans. Some of them tell us that they haven’t eaten anything, that they don’t have blankets or pillows… the police stations are getting closer to us. We have nowhere to send them because the shelters don’t have space.»
New York City is so stretched to house it has considered closing streets and the construction of temporary housing to house potentially hundreds of migrants a day.
“The national government has turned its back on New York City,” Adams said in April. «The President and the White House have failed New York City on this issue.»
New York City social services advocates say they are running out of physical space to house immigrants, whose impact is being felt in many ways. For example, Win, an organization that helps provide shelter and family housing in New York City, has seen the number of people in its shelters increase so rapidly, including 700 unaccompanied children, that it has had to purchase five additional refrigerators. since the fall. Christine Quinn, Win’s president and CEO, said there is no excuse for the carefree nature of the response now, given that the May 11 deadline loomed.
“We really should have developed and implemented comprehensive, practical plans, and that’s what’s really missing,” Quinn said.
The White House had no immediate comment.
The tension is felt as far from the southern border as Maine, which shares a 600-mile border with Canada. More than 1,000 immigrants have arrived in Portland since the beginning of the year and officials say they are already full.
“We know that the city of Portland and the surrounding communities are struggling to help so many people,” Martha Stein, executive director of the nonprofit Hope Acts. said the local media. “And this is happening all over the country.”
Title 42 allowed Border Patrol to quickly remove asylum seekers, without giving them access to the process that would-be refugees are entitled to under normal circumstances.
The policy was used more than 2.8 million times to turn away migrants, according to Border Patrol Datacreating a massive backlog that authorities say could now result in up to 13,000 migrants a day seeking asylum at the border.
Democrats criticized former President Donald Trump when he invoked Title 42 during covid, but Democratic lawmakers aren’t celebrating now that it’s finally gone.
progressive rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., sees Title 42 as a «nativist effort to stop the entry of migrants fleeing persecution and violence of their legal right» and «not legal border policy.» But he said in a statement Thursday that «while the Biden administration has done its best to prepare for the lifting of Title 42, it is clear they have fallen short.»
Moderate Democratic Rep. Colin Allred of Texas, who just launched a high-profile campaign against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, used the same language to say that Biden «has failed to get Texas border communities the support they need.»
Chuck Rocha, a leading Latino Democratic strategist, blamed Republicans for «sitting idly» instead of passing legislation to help, but said they are trying to buoy their base and scare off undecided voters.
“Republicans are staging a messaging war that is not directed at Latino voters. They are trying to scare white voters in suburban Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan by saying that there are these people, bad people in their opinion, who come to this country to do bad things, and they come to their neighborhood,” Rocha said. .
Rocha said he didn’t think the Republicans would be successful in the long term, though he acknowledged that «in the early days, because there’s a lag, there’s going to be pictures that won’t be good for anyone to see.»
And Rocha said immigration activists could give Biden a little more control thanks in part to his recent selection of Julie Chávez Rodríguez, the granddaughter of famed farmworker organizer César Chávez, to lead his re-election campaign.
“It’s hard for me to see immigration activists personally going against this campaign in the same way when you have Julie Chavez as your face,” Rocha said.
But Quinn, from Win in New York City, said both short-term and long-term solutions need to come along, and quickly.
“People think they are going to sleep and we are going to wake up and everyone is going to leave,” he said. “It’s not going to work that way. These are people who fled across rough waters to get anywhere but their country.»