Biden discusses immigration issues with Congressional Hispanic Caucus
President Biden and his top aides had a 90-minute meeting with seven leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) Monday afternoon, during which the president said his administration would press ahead with ending Title 42 — the COVID-related measure being used to expel migrants from the border quickly. According to some of the members at the meeting, he said he'd need their help explaining and defending the administration's immigration policy in public and in forthcoming budget and legislative debates.
But the meeting was underway as a federal judge temporarily blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from ending the pandemic-era policy as currently scheduled, on May 23. It was unclear to the caucus members what that court order will mean for the administration's plans.
Those in the meeting from the Biden administration included top advisers and officials Cedric Richmond, Susan Rice, Louisa Terrell, Julie Rodriguez and Cristobal Alex, as well as Office of Management and Budget Director Shalonda Young. Among the CHC members in attendance were Reps. Raul Ruiz, Nanette Barragan, Adriano Espaillat, Darren Soto.
CHC members said they were happy to see the president ask to at least double the budget of U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services' family reunification work. USCIS currently has a staggering backlog of 4 million people who are awaiting processing.
Notably, members left the meeting believing the president will sign an executive order extending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for five more years — a big caucus priority. DACA provides undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children with protection from deportation and work permits, both on a renewable basis.
And the president and his team signaled openness to new executive action to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to people from Honduras, Nicaragua, among other places, who haven't been re-designated in several years.
Mr. Biden also told the Hispanic lawmakers that he's looking at different options to forgive an unspecified but substantial amount of student debt for those with federally-backed loans. The White House didn't respond to requests for comment late Monday.
CHC members said infrastructure, environmental justice and other immigration issues were also discussed.
The Biden administration will be holding more meetings with Congress in the days ahead. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas plans to brief some lawmakers on Tuesday, while Terrell, the White House legislative affairs director, is set to meet with Senate Democratic chiefs of staff and other top policy aides to discuss immigration policy.