President-elect Joe Biden has also detailed a $1.9 trillion plan to address COVID-19.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) denounced President-elect Joe Biden on Monday for offering a comprehensive immigration reform bill during a pandemic. Biden has previously proposed a $1.9 trillion plan to address the COVID-19 crisis and a mass vaccination program.
In a series of tweets, Cotton lambasted Biden for keeping his campaign promise to fix the nation's immigration system and offer a path to citizenship for many undocumented residents.
"Joe Biden is wasting no time trying to enact his radical immigration agenda," he complained. "He's unveiling his draft immigration bill this week, and it's what you'd expect from the party of open borders: Total amnesty, no regard for the health or security of Americans, and zero enforcement."
"Let's be clear: Joe Biden is prioritizing amnesty ahead of the pandemic or getting Americans back to work," he added. "We can't let him get away with it."
According to a CBS News report on Monday, Biden plans to use his executive powers to freeze deportations and to extend protections for Dreamers, undocumented people brought to the country as kids. While he plans to send Congress an immigration reform bill soon that would provide a pathway to citizenship for millions, his team has already cautioned immigration reform advocates that they might not be able to get such a bill enacted during the first 100 days of his presidency.
Biden made his views on immigration clear during the campaign and he won despite Donald Trump repeatedly smearing him as supporting "open borders."
Contrary to Cotton's assertion, immigration reform is possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last March, the Communications Workers of America put out a statement warning that "many undocumented and immigrant workers may be among the least able to self-isolate and seek the medical care that is essential to protecting their health and slowing the spread of the disease."
An article published in the New England Journal of Medicine earlier this month by two experts from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine noted that undocumented Latinx populations have been especially vulnerable to the coronavirus.
"Immigrants who had been systematically excluded from the safety net feared interacting with institutions," they noted. They pointed to a young COVID-19 patient who refused to go to a convention center field hospital because he was "terrified of being sent to the “detention center.”
"The Covid-19 case rate and mortality among undocumented immigrants are undoubtedly much higher than they are in the general Latinx population," the authors wrote, adding that immigration reform legislation "would provide critical relief and begin to mitigate the effects of years of systematic marginalization."
Cotton is also incorrect that Biden is prioritizing immigration reform over addressing the twin crises he will inherit from Donald Trump: a raging pandemic and its resulting economic impact.
Last Thursday, Biden proposed a $1.9 trillion "American Rescue" plan to provide $1,400 stimulus checks for most Americans, along with rental assistance, child care grants, emergency paid leave, expanded vaccination and testing efforts, and support for small businesses, states, and schools.
On Friday, he also released a detailed plan to speed up the process of vaccinating millions of Americans, after the outgoing Trump administration failed to reach even half of its December 2020 inoculation target.
Even without a pandemic, Cotton likely would not be backing Biden's efforts to reform immigration and protect undocumented Americans.
"I will oppose amnesty in all forms, fight to secure our borders, and improve enforcement of the immigration laws," he wrote on his 2012 congressional campaign website. "We cannot afford to grant illegal aliens amnesty or a so-called 'earned path to citizenship.' Amnesty would cost billions of dollars that our government cannot afford."
Cotton falsely denounced proposed protections for Dreamers as "the single biggest amnesty in the history of the United States." He authored a bill to slash the number of green cards available for legal immigrants and to reduce the number of refugees allowed annually. He also backed Trump's multibillion dollar effort to build a massive wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.