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Once again, Biden is driving away progressives – but he might not have any other option

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Joe Biden is facing backlash from progressives with his latest executive action barring most asylum applications from migrants crossing the US-Mexico border illegally. The action is seen as a risk that Biden had to take due to his weak stance on one of Donald Trump’s key campaign issues. The president’s standing with progressives has weakened over months, especially after his support for Israel’s assault on Gaza. The coalition that carried Biden to power over Trump four years ago has eroded, with shaky support among liberal voters and people of color.

Biden’s executive action aims to alleviate pressure on the overwhelmed asylum system by restricting asylum applications, with exceptions for unaccompanied minors and victims of human trafficking. However, many progressives view this move as a betrayal of liberal values and are concerned that it sets a new standard for Democratic immigration initiatives. Democrats are also disappointed with the lack of a path to citizenship for millions of migrants already in the country, including Dreamers and farmworkers. Progressive leaders like Sen. Alex Padilla and Rep. Pramila Jayapal are urging Biden to do what is right for immigrant communities.

The president’s gamble with progressives may risk alienating a crucial voting bloc, but Biden is banking on the question of where else they could go. Some Democrats fear that issues like Israel’s military operation in Gaza could depress significant votes in key swing states like Michigan. However, Biden’s comeback in the 2020 primary after a shaky start shows that the critical center of the party may not align with the loudest progressive voices. The campaign also aims to impress Republican voters who may have chosen former Gov. Nikki Haley over Trump.

Biden’s approach to immigration is seen as a step in the right direction by some conservative Haley supporters, indicating a potential shift towards listening to the center. The president’s outreach to Republicans and moderate voters reflects a broader strategy to appeal to a wide range of voters in a tightly contested election. While facing criticism from progressives and Democrats on immigration issues, Biden is navigating a delicate balance to secure support from a diverse spectrum of voters in his bid for reelection.

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