6 experts give a letter grade on Biden-Harris administration's handling of immigration thus far

In the first six months of the Biden-Harris administration, immigration was a major issue.According to a Monday report by The New York Times, the Biden administration will continue a Trump-era CDC border closing policy known as Title 42.Insider asked seven experts for their opinions on the administration's handling of immigration so far.According to The New York Times, the Biden administration will maintain the controversial Trump-era Centers for Disease Control and Prevention border closing policy known as Title 42.10 Things in Politics: Keep up to date with the most recent political and economic news. Loading Something is loading. Click Sign up to receive marketing emails and other offers from Insider.Their immigration policies and campaign promises have been frequently in the news since President Joe Biden's and Vice President Kamala Harris assumed office over six months ago.There are many immigration issues that the administration must negotiate, including a steady rise in unaccompanied migrants crossing the border (including a possible all-time high in July), as well as a barrage of Republican criticism and Democratic criticism.Since March, Harris has been the face of the administration's immigration policy. Biden gave Harris the task to lead the government's efforts at slowing migration by addressing the root causes in Central American nations.Harris demanded an end to political rhetoric and infighting over immigration. Harris was making her first visit to the US-Mexico border in June. Harris's stop in El Paso (Texas) comes three weeks after her visit to Guatemala. She was criticised for telling migrants "do NOT come" to the US.Insider asked seven immigration experts in May, June and July to rate the administration's handling of this issue so far.Pedro Rios is the Director of American Friends Service Committee's U.S./Mexico Border Program.Grade: DWhy?Rios said that a "good portion" of his low grade was due to Insider's continued retention of Title 42 by the Trump-era administration. Title 42 was a Trump-era pandemic emergency rule that used to quickly turn away migrants, with the exception of unaccompanied minors. According to policy experts, it played a major role in the increase in children crossing the border this year.Many immigration advocates were surprised by the continued existence of Title 42 for so many months. They expected that the administration would reopen the path for asylum seekers.Rios stated that there are "people who have died trying to cross into the USA or were placed in precarious circumstances."Rios also criticised the lack of clarity by the administration for communities affected by border wall constructions through land confiscation or damage.What the administration could do better:Rios first and foremost wants Title 42 to be ended quickly.He is also concerned by what he perceives as an administration push for infrastructure known as smart or intelligent borders. This proposal was included in the biden immigration bill that Biden submitted to Congress earlier this month. It details his commitment to "modernize the immigration system."He said that he was troubled by Biden's commitment for this type of border enforcement. "So, I would like to see a rejection in adopting intelligent technology for enforcement. There has not been any analysis or discernment as to how these types of tools could wreak havoc."An agent of US Customs and Border Protection stands guard at the US-Mexico border fence. PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty ImagesCarlos Rojas Rodriguez is a long-standing immigration organizer whom Biden advised to vote for TrumpGrade: FWhy?Rojas Rodriguez stated to Insider that there was concern in the immigrant rights movement about Biden's candidacy for office. He wanted to see how far he would distance himself the Obama administration legacy on mass deportation."We had good rhetoric, but terrible practices. With Biden so far what we are seeing when the rubber meets road is disappointment and disappointment."Rojas Rod challenged Biden on the campaign trail. He asked if he would agree to a full-deportation moratorium. Biden answered no and then told Rojas Rod to vote for Trump.Insider was told by Rojas Rodriguez that this moment in Guatemala and Harris' "momentary of honesty" in Guatemala has also defined the failures of the administration regarding immigration. Rojas Rodriguez said that the administration needed political pressure and movement to raise the refugee cap, which was the "low-hanging fruit" from the previous administration.What the administration could do better:Rojas Rodriguez stated to Insider that the administration needs to make clear its legislative priorities and use reconciliation as an immigration tool. He also suggested that there be a pathway for citizenship for all undocumented immigrant currently living in the US.He pointed out that 9/10 farmworkers are not documented and that many others have been vital workers during the pandemic. The Biden administration has an excellent opportunity to honor that fact.Lee Gelernt is Deputy Director of ACLU Immigrants’ Rights ProjectGrade: N/AWhy?Gelernt refused to rate the administration, but stated that overall the administration had done "very well” on immigration, with one notable exception: at the border. Gelernt was particularly critical of Title 42's continued existence for adults and families.Gelernt stated that Insider has never believed Title 42 policy was lawful, humane or necessary for public health. "We are deeply disturbed that the Biden Administration has retained that policy. I believe that the retention Title 42 policy is a significant blemish in the administration's immigration efforts.The ACLU brought a lawsuit against Congress in January regarding Title 42's expulsion of asylum seekers. The case was reopened by the ACLU and the government in negotiations over the next few months. Gelernt could not discuss the concessions made so far by the government, but said that the two sides had reached an agreement on Title 42 for vulnerable families.Gelernt stated that a timetable must be established for the litigation."We'll have to see a timeline to end Title 42 within the next few days or we're going back in court."What the administration could do better:Gelernt stated that he was happy to see Harris's efforts to address the root causes behind migration on Harris's trip to Guatemala earlier in the month.Gelernt stated that people don't want to leave their country of origin...separate families if necessary. "So, if violence is eliminated in these countries and other problems are addressed...then I believe we will see less migration."However, the long-term solution to Central America's problems is finding root causes. Gelernt stated that the US should allow asylum seekers to enter the country while they process their claims.He said, "I was very disappointed that she continued the administration's message telling people not to go." "We can't tell people to stay home, no matter what danger they are in."Gelernt stressed the US's long-standing duty to asylum seekers over the decades and encouraged the administration instead to send a message that emphasizes that commitment.He stated that the "Biden" administration had done a lot of good and eliminated most of Trump's illegal and restrictive immigration policies.Gelernt said, "But if you eliminate the chance to see asylum for very long, we will do real damage to our country's historic engagement."After being released by U.S. Border Patrol Agents on February 26, 2021 in Brownsville Texas, Central American asylum seekers are taken to a bus station. John Moore/Getty ImagesRoberto Lopez and Laura Pea (Texas Civil Rights Project)D/F GradeWhy?Lopez stated to Insider that the border wall was a failure.He also mentioned that many of the organization's clients (including the Cavazos family) had their lands taken by the Trump administration in carryover eminent jurisdiction cases. Biden, on the campaign trail, promised to withdraw from these types of lawsuits and that "not one inch" of the border wall would ever be built.Lopez and Pena also stated that Title 42's continued existence at the border was a significant problem. They praised the administration's decision to end the Remain in Mexico policy "in name" and promised that those whose cases had been closed would be able to re-apply. They said that the test is how the Biden administration will handle people who have fallen through the cracks because of Trump-era asylum policies.What the administration could do better:Both said that the administration should be withdrawing from any imminent domain border cases and returning lands already seized. Both men added that Title 42 must be repealed by the administration.Bob Carey, ex-director of the Office of Refugee Resetlement under Obama-Biden administrationGrade B/B+Why?Carey said that there needs to be a realistic assessment of what is possible in the time frame. He also stated that he would not give the administration credit for its current border policy.He said, "People see the beauty of immigration through the borders. But closing them down is not the right response."Carey said that he didn't think the Biden administration had failed. There is still time for the administration to rebuild the legal and humanitarian representational capacities at the border and across the immigration agencies.What the administration could do better:Stabilizing the asylum system to ensure it is safe, organized, and transparent. Carey's greatest concern was with transparency and messaging."Things have been communicated inconsistently. It's important that there is an all-of government approach to immigration. Carey explained to Insider that "Do Not Come" can be understood as, "We don't have an immigration policy or the border is closed."Carey said that Carey's flip-flopping about the refugee cap was yet another example of a badly-formulated message and goal. Insider was told by Carey that the Biden administration must prioritize a multi-pronged approach to immigration and foster a broad-engaged humanitarian commitment in a bipartisan manner.Vice President Kamala Harris, and Guatemala's Minister for Foreign Affairs Pedro Brolo, waved at her arrival ceremony at Guatemalan Air Force Central Command on Sunday, June 6, 2021. AP Photo/Jacquelyn MartinOliver Merino, Coordinator for Immigration Legal Resource CenterGrade: FWhy?Merino stated that there have been many disappointments stemming form promises made during the campaign trail, and felt that Trump's immigration policy has not changed.Merino stated that "the comments that VP Harris made about Guatemala could honestly have been made by an official in Trump's administration, almost word-for-word, and they could also have come out of the Obama administration," Merino told Insider.Merino's low score also relates to Title 42 border closings and ongoing deportations, despite a promise of a deportation moratorium. He said that the budget had included increases in CBP and detention and that immigration bills have not been prioritized by the administration.What the administration could do better:Merino stated that the administration should immediately repeal Title 42 as a starting point. Merino said that the administration should clarify its priorities for deportation. These were updated in a May ICE memo.Vicki Gaubeca is the Director of Southern Border Communities Coalition.Grade: B-Why?Gaubeca stated that she would give them a grade B if they had the intention to create an efficient and humanitarian process. "I'd say that the minus would be due to them not being able to figure out how to do it quickly and correctly.Gaubeca criticised the administration for too much reliance on US Customs and Border Patrol. She said that agency operates solely through a law enforcement lens and has no humanitarian considerations.She believes that the Biden Administration's approach to immigration has been a significant improvement over the Trump Administration's, and she is optimistic for the future.She said, "We are not where our hearts desire to be but we are not where we were before."What the administration could do better:Gaubeca offered several suggestions for the administration to improve its handling of immigration. These included lifting Title 42, connecting with non-governmental immigration groups on the ground and ensuring they are adequately resourced; and shifting away from a law enforcement approach when managing the border."Ultimately...continue to push for a just and fair immigration reform that is not tied to more border security," Gaubeca said.She said, "Immigrants strengthen our nation." "We must find a way to do this that respects the dignity and human rights of all people. This will be ultimately beneficial for us."