So Joe Biden has officially won. But winning was, comparatively, the easy part. Building a roadmap for four years of Democratic policy in a divided Washington is a more challenging endeavor. Now Biden faces his first real test: How does a president elected by a geographically and ideologically diverse coalition of ex-Republicans, Democratic moderates, and young, nonwhite liberal activists manage to please everyone?
Even the Biden team seems unsure. In a Nov. 24 interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, Biden eagerly listed immigration as his top legislative priority, emphasizing the importance of reuniting 666 migrant children still separated from their families as part of Donald Trump’s inhumane “zero tolerance” immigration policy. But on Dec. 13, Biden’s team angered activists by failing to list immigration among his top four legislative priorities: COVID-19, economic recovery, racial justice, and climate change.
The omission, a Bidenland source told NPR, is an intentional acknowledgement that immigration reform has become too polarizing to take on immediately. The GOP will certainly remember that with enough noise from the conservative media, a “top priority” Biden issue can quickly find itself shoved to the bottom of the policy pile. And for a president who views himself as a “transitional candidate”—a one-term president, in other words—losing coveted priority status probably amounts to an early funeral for sensitive issues like immigration.