The Biden campaign on Saturday lambasted Donald Trump’s reported plans for an extreme and rapid expansion of his first-term clampdown on immigration if he takes back the White House.
If he wins the 2024 election, Trump intends to reimplement many of his first-term policies, including the so-called Muslim ban and the use of Title 42 to turn away asylum seekers. He also wants to deport migrants by the millions per year, detaining them in large camps while they await expulsion, according to a new report from the New York Times.
The former president further wants to end birthright citizenship for children born to undocumented immigrants, among other hardline policies.
“Mass detention camps, attempts to deny children born here citizenship, uprooting families with mass deportations — this is the horrifying reality that awaits the American people if Donald Trump is allowed anywhere near the Oval Office again,” Biden campaign spokesperson Ammar Moussa said in a statement. “These extreme, racist, cruel policies dreamed up by him and his henchman Stephen Miller are meant to stoke fear and divide us, betting a scared and divided nation is how he wins this election.”
Trump has repeatedly hinted at these plans at political rallies, where he typically talks at length about the southern border. Stephen Miller, a senior aide who crafted many of Trump’s first-term policies, is once again heavily involved in the planning, according to the Times.
“We’ll stop the invasion on our southern border and begin the largest domestic deportation operation in American history,” Trump said during a rally on Saturday in New Hampshire.
“Joe Biden and his administration have made a conscious decision to allow our border to be wide open, allowing criminals, human traffickers, and deadly drugs to flow into American communities. When President Trump returns to the White House, he will secure the border and ensure Americans are safe once again,” Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung said in a statement.
Immigration will once again be a political lightning rod in 2024: the Biden administration has faced similar struggles as the Trump administration to contain surging migration levels, and the Republican field has seized on the border as a base-rallying issue, proposing bombing Mexico to stop cartels and using deadly force against migrants suspected of drug trafficking.
Congress has made little progress in rebuilding an outdated system unable to manage the crisis, and negotiations on the Hill to pass Biden’s national security supplemental package have added another challenging layer as Republicans hang money for Ukraine and Israel on border policy changes.
Biden is facing bubbling political pressure within his own party, as immigration groups and progressives urge the president to not concede any long-lasting policy changes amid hasty congressional negotiations.
Immigration groups often point to Biden’s rhetoric in 2020, when he talked about restoring the asylum system decimated under the Trump administration. On his first day in the White House, Biden sent a bill to overhaul the immigration system, but it never moved in Congress.
Unable to deliver the major reform he once promised, Biden has spent his presidency combatting criticism from not only Republicans, but from Democrats who have criticized his reimplementation of Trump-era policies, such as the so-called transit ban.
While Biden’s denouncement of Trump administration policies was central to his 2020 message, it’s not yet clear how often the president will talk about immigration this go-around. But it is clear that his campaign will continue to seize on opportunities to contrast the president with his leading GOP challenger.
“The American people chose unity over division and hope over fear in 2020 when they elected Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and sent Donald Trump packing, and they’ll do it again next year,” Moussa said.
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