Mon. Apr 22nd, 2024

Biden’s reference to ‘an illegal’ upsets some Democrats — but they say they’re still sticking with him

By 37ci3 Mar9,2024

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden has accepted widespread definitions Thursday night for a fiery State of the Union address from Democrats that hinges on issues that will be central to the 2024 election. But one of the points that has caused disagreements with some allies has been the issue of immigration, when Biden called an undocumented immigrant “illegal.”

The unscripted moment came when Biden brought up Laken Riley, a 22-year-old nursing student who was killed in Georgia. Moment undocumented immigrant charged by his murder. Biden called her “an innocent young woman who was killed by an illegal person.”

The term has long been rejected and dehumanized by the Democratic Party and immigration advocates, so it was notable when the president used it in his most high-profile speech.

“There were many good things in President Biden’s speech tonight, but his rhetoric on immigrants was inflammatory and wrong,” said US Representative Joaquin Castro of Texas. Sent to X in the moments after the speech.

Castro’s guest speaker at his annual address was Priscilla Martinez, the widow of Texas rancher Aaron Martinez, who was killed by a neighbor in what Castro called a “hate crime” in an anti-Latino hate speech.

Those charges were never brought against the man accused of killing the 35-year-old, but by inviting Martinez, Castro said he wanted to highlight the rise in violence against Hispanic Americans and immigrants since the presidency of Donald Trump.

“The speech was very strong overall, but the president must be careful not to add fuel to the right-wing fire that scapegoats immigrants for fear and our national challenges,” Castro told NBC News.

“The president’s ad last night was very disappointing,” said Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., who, like Castro, is a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

He called the comment a “dangerous type of rhetoric.” [Biden] he has condemned in the past and I expect him to do so again. We can’t praise a strong economy and a strong nation while insulting the immigrants who contribute so much to the strength of both.”

But on Friday, Biden was unrepentant, telling reporters, “Well, you know, technically he shouldn’t have been here.”

A Democratic lawmaker’s aide said they were “shocked” that Biden used the phrase, adding that other staffers on Capitol Hill had similar feelings while watching the speech.

“It was just shocking rhetoric to hear from a Democratic President who campaigned against demonizing immigrants,” they said.

Biden’s comments came after he reversed course on policy toward the southern border, which has seen record migrant crossings in recent months under his administration. With his approval ratings lagging and political pressure to address the growing crisis, Biden signaled in January that he would be willing to accept tougher limits on the asylum system and other measures unthinkable to many Democrats.

He even went so far as to say he would “close the border” if Congress passed legislation that would give his administration the enforcement mechanism to do so. The bipartisan border bill blocked by Republicans was a theme Biden highlighted during his speech Thursday night.

“This bipartisan bill would hire 1,500 more law enforcement agents and officers, and 100 more immigration judges to help relieve the 2 million caseload. 4,300 more asylum officers and a new policy so they can resolve cases in six months instead of six years,” Biden said, directing his anger at House Republicans. “What are you against?

Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of Global Refuge, an immigration advocacy organization, said: “Obviously, language is important, but so is the intent behind it. While the larger context of this speech was an unfortunate choice of words in a moment of heated confusion, President Biden was quite clear in its stark contrast to the dehumanizing language and policies of his predecessor.

“I wouldn’t use the word illegal,” Rep. D-Calif. Robert Garcia said on MSNBC Thursday night. “But I think the president changed quickly, he immediately started talking about immigrants, and I think as an immigrant myself, I was discouraged from talking about the importance of immigrants and actually calling out Donald Trump and his rhetoric. We’re somehow poisoning the blood of this country.”

Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez told reporters Thursday morning that the president’s policies and actions should speak the loudest.

“Our community knows Joe, they know who’s fighting for our community, they know who’s fighting for us,” he said.

But not everyone on the left was upset by Biden’s tone during the speech.

Biden held up a button bearing the name given to him by U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene before Riley’s speech. There are Republicans called for his death they pushed for tougher border policies — and as a way to blame Biden for not doing enough.

Biden said he “flipped the script” on Republicans, referring to Riley, a border state Democrat who spoke on condition of anonymity, and applauded the president for “neutralizing the issue that Republicans opened up to him because they blocked the bill.”

Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., who is running for independent Sen. Kyrsten Sineman’s seat, said he thought the speech was a “good reset” for Democrats as they head into November’s critical power-hungry election in Washington. is in danger.

A recent poll found that Latinos have mixed views on immigration. In a survey by the Pew Research Center, three-quarters of Latinos agreed that the border is in crisis or problematic. However, two-thirds said speeding up asylum decisions with more judges and staff would help, and 58% said there was a need to create more legal migration pathways. Only one-third supported the increase in the deportation of people illegally in the country, and one-fourth supported the substantial expansion of the wall.

Despite the criticism, Voto Latino, a progressive group focused on mobilizing young Latinos to vote, planned to formally endorse Biden’s re-election effort at a rally in Las Vegas, where Vice President Harris will attend on Saturday.

Maria Teresa Kumar, the group’s president and CEO, said Thursday that despite Biden’s “forced error,” Voto Latino is supporting him because they understand “young people are struggling with how to participate” in 2024 and want to show them that “their voice will determine the course of our democracy.” will determine”.

He said those who focused too much on Biden’s language, hailing his call for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers who came to America as children, were missing the point.

“I’ve had the privilege of knowing the president for a long time and his words are not what’s in his heart,” he said, referring to his “illegal” remarks.

A Mexican immigrant told NBC News on Friday that they were not offended by Biden’s use of the term “illegal.”

Raul Morales, who added that he is in the process of getting his green card and won’t be on the ballot in 2024, said, “What’s important is not the words they use, but what they’re going to do with migration.” election. “Because they can speak nice words, but if they don’t solve something with migration, it’s useless.[ful] me if they use complicated or pleasant words.

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By 37ci3

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