Emil Guillermo: Mad at Biden over immigration? Andy Kim isn't.

Image for Emil Guillermo: Mad at Biden over immigration? Andy Kim isn't.
Photo by Nancy Rokos/Burlington County Times

When I coached my daughters’ youth soccer teams, some parents, who didn’t know the game, would yell “charge” and encourage the girls to kick the ball toward the goal as hard and as far as they could.


Sometimes, if the ball-handling skills are up to it, you kick the ball backwards in order to move forward.

The pros in the U.S. and the Euro leagues do it all the time, kicking it backward, often to the goalie, in order to switch field position.

That’s the proper way to see what’s going on in the immigration debate today.

Yes, it’s frustrating that Biden has taken on nearly the exact same position that Donald Trump (the former president now known as CFDT34) did on the southern border to cap migrant crossings at 2,500 daily, and then deny any further crossings.

When Trump did it, the ACLU sued, and it again is suing the Biden administration.

Has Biden gone bonkers? No, he’s just playing the immigration game, the way politicos have played it for decades.

It’s a political football where no one wins and nil-nil is an okay result.

Only in soccer—not American football—does the metaphor make sense.

We can get frustrated by Biden, but the fact is Congress is the place for what’s needed on the border—a plan that’s part of comprehensive immigration reform. When a bipartisan measure was about to be approved, the GOP heeded Trump’s call to defeat it, so as to leave him an issue to run on in November.

The ball wasn’t even kicked down the road. It was just frozen.

Biden has to do something. So he did the only thing he could do now. He kicked the ball backward, but it left him open to criticism from his own party, especially from progressives.

Still, even they know without GOP support, nothing gets done to really fix the crisis.

Some migrants will get in, and some will be sent back, causing more humanitarian problems for Mexico.

Even for the asylees allowed in, a backlog is created. People wait for a date for a hearing, and that could take months.

Biden’s move gives the appearance of some order. But it may just be the only savvy political move right now.

Last week, the Pew Research Center released a survey that showed 59 percent of U.S. adults favor undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S.

That may seem high but in 2000, Pew found that number was at 74 percent. Why the drop?

The large number of border crossings.

Biden’s handling of immigration is one of the main reasons for his high general disapproval ratings.

But on immigration specifically, he’s nowhere near the disapproval that Trump gets on his GOP plan to deport 10 million undocumented immigrants.

Biden is still to the left of Trump. He may seem like he’s going backward, but it may be an effective way to pick up independents and moderate Republican voters tired of Trump's lies and xenophobia. Those voters are the “persuadables” who could be the difference makers in November.


Last week, Rep. Andy Kim, (D-NJ) wasn’t criticizing Biden.

Kim’s been drawing attention for his Democratic primary win to be New Jersey’s next Senator, not to mention the first Korean American elected to the U.S. Senate.

But now the battle-tested Kim is facing a different kind of race. The guy whose seat he’s seeking, the disgraced criminally indicted Robert Menendez, has announced he is running as an independent.

Kim, speaking on CNN with Jake Tapper, noted how he’s beaten three straight Republican self-funders. “And right now I’m running against the indicted senator who’s in court, as well as a Republican candidate who is supporting a convicted felon,” Kim added. “I very much hope that the people in New Jersy will choose some sanity to be able to get through this all.”

When the topic turned to immigration, Kim didn’t take a potshot at Biden as some Democrats have. Instead, he took the view as a son of immigrants, one who’s married to an immigrant, and who sees immigrants as vital parts of our country.

“I’m concerned that this enforcement-only approach is not looking at the totality of what needs to happen to be able to address our concerns,” Kim said. “When I talk to people, whether Republicans or Democrats, everyone wants a more orderly process.”

But Kim said that also means hiring more immigration judges, of which he said there are only 682 in the country, while there are 3 million cases.

“We deserve to have a comprehensive approach, something that makes sure we’re not taking on the kinds of actions as well as the rhetoric of Donald Trump.”

Kim knows that’s Congress’ job. Democrats in control of the House and Senate will make it easier to address our nation’s immigration problems.

But Kim didn’t knock Biden. He knows the executive action is temporary. Like kicking the ball backwards to the goalie.

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NOTE: I will talk about this column and other matters on “Emil Amok’s Takeout,” my AAPI micro-talk show. Live @2p Pacific. Livestream on Facebook; my YouTube channel; and Twitter. Catch the recordings on