“Civil rights advocates & Members of Congress are outraged by these policies because they flout refugee law & will unleash more suffering at the border, w/ disparate harm to Black, Brown & Indigenous asylum seekers,” Heidi Altman, the policy director at the National Immigrant Justice Center, a liberal human rights group, said on Twitter. “The admin should stop deflecting, *listen* & reverse course.”
The criticism from the same groups that fiercely opposed Mr. Trump’s policies has infuriated Mr. Biden and his aides, who say the comparison is unfair and wrong.
“Well, obviously, we take a different view,” said John F. Kirby, a top spokesman for the National Security Council, noting the demand to balance the need for “legal pathways to entry” and ensuring that “illegal migration is curbed.”
Mr. Kirby and other White House officials pointed out that several mayors who have struggled with the influx of migrants into their cities, including the leaders of San Antonio, Chicago, Washington and New York, praised the president’s proposals last week.
But as the president’s aides struggled to deflect criticism from Democrats and human rights groups, they braced for renewed attacks from Republicans who have spent months accusing the administration of being too weak on the border. In an opinion article published before the president’s trip, Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia, chided Mr. Biden for waiting almost two years to visit the border.
“The president neglecting to visit the southern border — during a time when we are facing record illegal crossings and there is a clear crisis — would be the equivalent of our commander in chief not visiting the Pentagon during a military operation,” she wrote. She said of his visit to El Paso, “This checks a box, but it doesn’t even begin to solve the problems.”
The question of what to do along the southern border in places like El Paso will be at the center of the discussions when Mr. Biden arrives for meetings with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada.