Rebecca Noble for The New York Times

Navigating a competitive presidential race, President Joe Biden is attempting to walk the line on immigration policy. How is he doing?

Biden made two major moves on immigration policy recently, one limiting the number of migrants applying for the asylum system, and the other allowing unauthorized migrants married to citizens to remain in the country.

Biden announced his spousal amnesty policy at an event commemorating the anniversary of former President Barack Obama’s 2012 executive action for young immigrants, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Biden framed his proposal as a way to keep families together. 

“I refuse to believe that to protect our border we have to walk away from being an American,” Biden said, adding that the nation had been revitalized for generations by immigrants. “We can both secure the border and provide legal pathways for families.” 

Several commentators and politicians on the right criticized Biden’s amnesty policy, saying he has failed to secure the border or pass meaningful immigration legislation throughout his presidency. The left tended to praise Biden for protecting immigrants and keeping families together, especially in the wake of his border shutdown.

In CNN Opinion (Left bias), Jill Filipovic wrote, “With Republicans cynically blocking Biden’s previous efforts to constrain immigration, the president has few options when it comes to across-the-aisle negotiations.” Filipovic said Biden’s bill does not increase the incentive for people to come here illegally because “it only applies to people who are already in the country and have been for many years.”

A writer for the New York Post Opinion (Right bias) argued that Biden is bringing more people into the country that are going to circumvent the regular immigration process: “The crisis at the border and surplus of drugs, crime, and other maladies are the direct result of his actions…Opening the border was a choice, one that seems likely to cost Democrats the White House.” The writer added that Biden’s “big show of signing an executive order on border security” earlier this month “was a red herring.”

An opinion contributor for The Guardian (Lean Left bias) said Obama’s DACA program should be used as an example for Biden’s immigration policy going forward. “The policy offered hundreds of thousands of young immigrants brought here as children, known as Dreamers, renewable protection from deportation and permission to work legally…White nationalism and xenophobia are forever flaring up in our history, and immigrants are always the scapegoat,” they said. “But Dreamers, their families, and their employers remember what Obama did.”

A Washington Examiner (Lean Right bias) piece by Conn Carroll stated that Biden’s waiving of the requirement that unauthorized immigrants married to a citizen have to first leave the country before they can apply for a green card “is essentially creating brand new amnesty programs without congressional approval on the fly.” Carroll concluded that “It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Biden hopes that some of those he is letting into the country illegally, or setting on a path to citizenship, will somehow convince others to vote for him…or maybe vote illegally themselves.”