Originally Published in The Hill
Celine Castronuovo - January 29, 2021
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is ramping up pressure on President Biden's administration with a new ad campaign starting Friday that targets immigration policy.
The ads, scheduled to run on The New York Times and Washington Post websites, will focus on three key issues: family separation, asylum and partnerships between state or local police departments and the federal government to enforce immigration and deportation laws, known as 287(g) agreements.
Naureen Shah, senior advocacy and policy counsel for the ACLU, told The Hill in an interview that the 287(g) program “has been rightly criticized as resulting in racial profiling” and “harassment of people all across the United States.”
Biden as a presidential candidate vocalized support for ending the 287(g) program, which is part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
In one of the new digital ads, the ACLU issues a message directly to Biden: “President Biden, the ACLU believes: Reversing Trump’s immigration injustices is just the beginning.”
“We must take bold actions to advance immigrant justice,” the ad continues.
Shah told The Hill that now is a “key time” for the government to take “first steps to reverse course on what the Trump administration did to hundreds of thousands of people across this country.”
“The damage done by the Trump administration, the lives they wrecked, the fear they caused to spread in so many communities around this country can’t be overstated,” Shah said. “We’re heartened by the Biden administration’s clear commitment to addressing these issues and we want to show our support in taking bold steps to not only reverse what the Trump administration put in motion, but also to fundamentally reform a broken immigration system.”
Biden previously committed to passing comprehensive immigration reform, and in his first week in office has already issued several executive actions aimed at reversing Trump-era policies, including a proclamation cutting off funding for former President Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall, a memo strengthening the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and an order ending Trump’s travel ban on individuals from several Muslim-majority countries.
The ACLU is interested in continuing to put pressure on the Biden administration, especially after multiple news outlets reported that Biden was delaying at least by a few days a series of executive actions on immigration that were initially expected this week.
The anticipated unilateral actions include a reversal of Trump-era asylum policies, as well as a plan to reunite migrant families separated at the southern border.
CNN reported Wednesday, citing three sources familiar with the matter, that first lady Jill Biden and her team in the East Wing are expected to play a rolein the administration’s efforts to reunite children and their parents who were separated under the Trump administration’s previous “zero tolerance” border policy.
The parents of 611 children have yet to be located by lawyers to reunite the families, according to a court filing cited by CNN.
The ACLU is also fueling money into other campaigns it has identified as key issues to be pursued by the Biden administration, including a six-figure digital and print ad buy calling for Biden to commit to his campaign promise of decreasing the number of incarcerated individuals in the country.
In the ads, the ACLU is specifically urging Biden to grant clemency to thousands of people who meet certain criteria, which he could do through executive powers.