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Ricketts criticizes Biden for 'weakening' border policies; ACLU says reform is needed

Ricketts criticizes Biden for 'weakening' border policies; ACLU says reform is needed

President Joe Biden's administration joined Democrats on Capitol Hill in unveiling a major immigration overhaul that would offer an eight-year pathway to citizenship to the estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status.

LINCOLN — Gov. Pete Ricketts on Monday added another criticism of President Joe Biden: his border policies.

Since Biden, a Democrat, took office, the Republican governor has jabbed him for canceling the Keystone XL pipeline, for what Ricketts called his “overreach” on climate policy and for dropping a ban on U.S. foreign aid for agencies that perform abortions.

On Monday, Ricketts issued a press release “warning” Biden that he was “weakening” U.S. border protections, creating a surge of unaccompanied children trying to enter the country. That raises the possibility of a humanitarian crisis, the governor said.

“President Biden’s recent actions on immigration policy appear to be more about reversing decisions made by former President Trump than actually protecting the health and safety of Americans and people looking to follow the law to come to our country,” Ricketts said.

But an official with the ACLU of Nebraska said Nebraskans of both parties recognize the need for immigration reform and want to end the “divisive rhetoric” of the Trump years.

“We need a clean break from the xenophobic, harmful practices that have defined immigration enforcement for too long — and the same goes for politicians cynically fearmongering about immigration to score political points,” said Rose Godinez, the ACLU’s legal and policy counsel.

Since taking office, Biden has halted Trump’s border wall construction program and resurrected the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program that allows children brought to the U.S. illegally as children to live and work here legally. He also relaxed a Trump policy that required 65,000 asylum seekers to wait in Mexico until their applications for asylum were reviewed in court.

But there has been heightened concern about an increase in border crossings and use of detention facilities for immigrant children and families. Biden dispatched aides to the border over the weekend to report on the situation.

Other GOP officials have also criticized Biden’s recent moves on immigration.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told a Fox News interviewer that “the border is breaking down as I speak.” Graham predicted that immigration would be a bigger issue during the midterm elections in 2022 than it was when Trump was elected in 2016.

Our best Omaha staff photos of March 2021

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Reporter - Regional/state issues

Paul covers state government and affiliated issues. He specializes in tax and transportation issues, following the governor and the state prison system. Follow him on Twitter @PaulHammelOWH. Phone: 402-473-9584.

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