President Biden and his top aides held a 90-minute meeting with seven leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) on Monday afternoon, where the president said his administration would continue to end Title 42 – the COVID-related measure used to expel migrants from the border quickly. According to some of the members at the meeting, he said he would need their help in explaining and defending the administration’s immigration policy in public and in upcoming budget and legislative debates.
But the meeting was underway when a federal judge temporarily blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fromas currently scheduled, on May 23rd. It was unclear to the caucus members what that court order would mean for the administration’s plans.
Those in the meeting from the Biden administration included top advisers and officials Cedric Richmond, Susan Rice, Louisa Terrell, Julie Rodriguez and Cristobal Alex, as well as the Office of Management and Budget Director Shalonda Young. Among the CHC members present were reps. Raul Ruiz, Nanette Barragan, Adriano Espaillat, Darren Soto.
CHC members said they were pleased to see the president ask to at least double the budget for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ family reunification work. USCIS currently has a staggering 4 million people awaiting treatment.
In particular, members left the meeting in the belief that the president will sign a decree extending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for another five years – a major caucus priority. The DACA provides undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children with protection against deportation and work permits, both on a renewable basis.
And the president and his team signaled openness to new executive acts to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to, among others, people from Honduras, Nicaragua, who have not been reappointed for several years.
Mr. Biden also told Latin American lawmakers that he is looking at various options for forgiving an unspecified but significant amount offor those with federally supported loans. The White House did not respond to requests for comment late Monday.
CHC members said infrastructure, environmental justice and other immigration issues were also discussed.
The Biden administration will hold more meetings with Congress in the coming days. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas plans to brief some lawmakers on Tuesday, while Terrell, the White House’s director of legislative affairs, will meet with Senate Democratic chiefs of staff and other top political aides to discuss immigration policy.