Biden's 'fair and humane' immigration plans are a breath of fresh air
Photo by Maria Oswalt on Unsplash

"It is a moral failing and a national shame when a father and his baby daughter drown seeking our shores. When children are locked away in overcrowded detention centers and the government seeks to keep them there indefinitely. When our government argues in court against giving those children toothbrushes and soap. When President Trump uses family separation as a weapon against desperate mothers, fathers, and children seeking safety and a better life. When he threatens massive raids that would break up families who have been in this country for years and targets people at sensitive locations like hospitals and schools. When children die while in custody due to lack of adequate care.

Trump has waged an unrelenting assault on our values and our history as a nation of immigrants.

It's wrong, and it stops when Joe Biden is elected president."

These are the opening lines of the Biden campaign's immigration platform, and for fans of compassionate—or even just basically decent—immigration policies, they are a soothing balm for the soul.

Of the many things to take issue with over the past four years, the Trump administration's cruel immigration policies surely rank toward the top. There was no excuse for the zero tolerance family separation policy that tore children—babies, even—from their parents arms without even putting into place a plan to reunite them. There was no good reason to slash our refugee ceiling to historically low levels when the world is facing a historically large refugee crisis and when study after study shows that refugee resettlement is actually good for the country economically. There was no reason for Dreamers to fear being sent back to countries many of them don't even remember, when they have lived their lives as Americans and had no say in their parents' actions.


Immigration is not a simple issue, but some aspects of it should be a no brainer. You don't traumatize children on purpose, no matter who they are or where they come from. You help as many people as you reasonably can when the need is great. You don't punish people for choices their parents made when they were kids. You treat human beings like human beings, balancing wisdom and security with kindness and compassion.

Biden says he is committed to a "fair and humane" immigration system. That doesn't mean unsafe or insecure, but rather smart and strategic in addressing threats while also maintaining our identity as a nation that welcomes immigrants with open arms.

Take the "big, beautiful" wall, for example. Super expensive and not very effective. As the Biden website states, "Most contraband comes in through our legal ports of entry. It's estimated that nearly half of the undocumented people living in the U.S. today have overstayed a visa, not crossed a border illegally. Families fleeing the violence in Central America are voluntarily presenting themselves to border patrol officials. And the real threats to our security–drug cartels and human traffickers–can more easily evade enforcement efforts because Trump has misallocated resources into bullying legitimate asylum seekers. Trump fundamentally misunderstands how to keep America safe because he cares more about governing through fear and division than common sense solutions."

One specific change Biden has committed to is raising our refugee ceiling back up to 125,000, which is around the number we had been resettling prior to Trump's election. In the past four years, Trump has dropped that number more than 80%—completely unprecedented—and there were rumors that a second term would drop the number to zero.

Biden's site also explains briefly how the humanitarian crisis we've seen at our border during the Trump administration could be tied to his administration freezing the funds that a bipartisan aid package for Central America secured during the Obama administration was designed to curb:

"Critically, the Obama-Biden administration recognized that irregular migration from the Northern Triangle countries of Central America cannot be effectively addressed if solutions only focus on our southern border. The better answer lies in addressing the root causes that push desperate people to flee their homes in the first place: violence and insecurity, lack of economic opportunity, and corrupt governance. As Vice President, Biden spearheaded the administration's efforts in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras–bringing high-level attention to these issues and securing bipartisan support for a $750 million aid package to help the Northern Triangle countries implement critical, concrete reforms. These efforts were beginning to deliver results and reduce migration rates until Trump froze the majority of the funding, began his campaign to terrorize immigrants and assault the dignity of the Latino community, and created the current humanitarian crisis at our border with his irresponsible and inhumane policies."

The site includes a summary of policies that Biden will "forcefully pursue" which will "safeguard our security, provide a fair and just system that helps to grow and enhance our economy, and secure our cherished values."

He will:

- Take urgent action to undo Trump's damage and reclaim America's values

- Modernize America's immigration system

- Welcome immigrants in our communities

- Reassert America's commitment to asylum-seekers and refugees

- Tackle the root causes of irregular migration

- Implement effective border screening

It's refreshing to not only to see a reasonable, humane approach to immigration, but also to see paragraphs of detail about Biden's approach. The Trump campaign's one-page bullet list of a second-term agenda briefly addressed immigration, and only in terms that were entirely negative and fear-based. The contrast could not be more stark.

It will be wonderful to again see America as welcoming home for people from around the world, who help make our society so richly diverse. With immigration policies based in fairness and decency over fear and distrust, we will renew that aspect of our national identity with pride.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

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