Immigration reform so divisive that even Democrats can't agree

Jon Lieber, Managing Director of the United States for the Eurasia Group, shares his insights on US politics:

Is the surging immigration crisis the biggest challenge for the still new Biden administration?

I wouldn't say the immigration crisis is the biggest policy challenge, that's probably the coronavirus and getting the economy back on track and maybe a little bit of foreign policy, but it's certainly one of the biggest political challenges.


Immigration has emerged as the third rail of American politics, something that really divides the left and the right, it's really divisive amongst Americans, and it's almost impossible for policymakers to come to an agreement and find reforms that they agree upon to do anything about this issue. There's still a large number of illegal aliens living in the country. And as we've seen in recent weeks, there's a surge of children, unaccompanied minors, arriving at the southern border who are required by law, the US is required by law to take in, and process their asylum claims here in the United States, creating the perception that President Biden has essentially opened the US borders. And it's a real political vulnerability for him that Republicans are going to try to exploit into the midterm elections in 2022.

How are politics getting in the way of the immigration policy Biden wants to implement?

Biden's preferred immigration reform would involve essentially reforming the legal immigration program, increasing the numbers of foreigners who are allowed to come here, and most controversially, providing a path to citizenship for people who came here illegally who have been working in living here for many, many years. This issue's so divisive that the Biden plan probably can't even pass the Democratic controlled House and is going to go nowhere in the Senate as long as the super majority requirement exists, that requires Republican votes to pass legislation. The House, instead, this week, did pass two bills, one of which gives a pathway to citizenship for adult residents of the United States who were brought here illegally as children, and two, provides a pathway to citizenship for agricultural workers who have been here a long time. These bills are kind of the low-hanging fruit of immigration reform where Democrats can agree. They don't yet agree on a much broader reform that would give a broader pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens or change the amount of numbers coming into the country. Both these bills unlikely to go anywhere in the Senate because of the politics and this is going to be a tricky issue that will probably be one of the defining issues of the 2020 midterms, unless President Biden can convince the Mexican government to try to help him keep the numbers of migrants coming from Central America down.

Building on more than 15 years of sustainability leadership, Walmart is doubling down on addressing the growing climate crisis by targeting zero emissions across the company's global operations by 2040. Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are also committing to help protect, manage or restore at least 50 million acres of land and one million square miles of ocean by 2030 to help combat the cascading loss of nature threatening the planet.

One of the world's most famous political dissidents may die in a Russian prison this week.

Alexei Navalny has been on a hunger strike for almost three weeks over the authorities' refusal to let his own medical team examine him after he developed signs of tuberculosis. Now, one of his aides says Navalny is "close to death."

The fate of Vladimir Putin's most prominent critic — who was poisoned last summer, allegedly by state officials, treated in Germany, and then jailed upon his return to Russia — is being closely watched both inside and outside the country.

More Show less

Ian Bremmer and Bill Maher discussed the global leadership of the United States compared to that of China on a recent episode of Real Time. "The level of corruption in China, the level of corruption in China, even the buildings and the rails you talk about - the average building the Chinese build lasts for 20, 25 years. In the United States, it lasts for 40 to 50. There's a reason why we are still the world's most powerful country," Ian argued. "I'm just saying China's not eating our lunch - that's all."

More Show less

As the price of Bitcoin has skyrocketed in recent months, so has the amount of energy that procuring it hogs. Research shows that Bitcoin "mining" now uses 80 percent more energy than at the start of 2020. Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates recently sounded the alarm on crypto, saying that he would not invest in Bitcoin because mining for the digital currency requires huge amounts of energy, much of which is powered by fossil fuels that harm the environment. So where does Bitcoin rank in electricity consumption compared to nations?

Even if the US, Europe, China, and India reduce carbon emissions at the rate they've promised, much climate damage has already been done. That shouldn't stop these and other countries from doing all they can to meet their net-zero emissions targets, but they also better start preparing for a world of people on the move.

Climate change will displace an unprecedented number of people in coming years, creating not just a series of humanitarian crises in many parts of the world, but lasting political, economic, and social upheaval as those of us who live on higher ground try to find a sustainable place for these climate refugees to live.

More Show less

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody, Ian Bremmer here, kicking off your beautiful spring week from New York City. A little Quick Take. I thought I'd talk today about Russia, going to be in the news this week. Putin doesn't like it when they're out of the news for too long, certainly plenty going on between the US and Russia right now.

I'd say, first of all, to start off, the relationship is in the toilet. We know this. It is the worst it's been since the early '80s. That was true even under Trump. Trump and Putin personally had a pretty good relationship, but Trump wasn't able to get anything really done for the Russians, because both the Republicans in Congress, key members of cabinet under Trump, massive amount of constraints on what Trump could actually do, whether it's trying to bring Russia back into the G7 or recognize Crimea as a part of Russia, or remove or reduce sanctions. None of that actually got done. In fact, the relationship deteriorated over the four years.

But now we've got Biden and the focus is of course, more on human rights. The focus is more on climate change, which means that Russia as a massive energy exporter and particularly in terms of their influence on Eastern Europe and Western Europe on the downstream for gas delivery, for example, something that Biden is much more focused on. So a lot more pressure on the Russians, and the Russians don't care. Their willingness to hit back and show that the Americans are not willing to take any significant risks to constrain the Russians is also fairly significant. And this is playing out in a number of ways.

More Show less

Pakistani radicals vs French cartoons: It's been a tumultuous week in Lahore, Pakistan's second largest city. After widespread protests broke out across the Muslim world late last year after Paris defended French publications' rights to publish satirical images of the Prophet Mohamed, the radical Pakistani Islamist group Tehrik-i-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), gave Pakistan's government until April 20 to expel the French ambassador, when it had planned nationwide demonstrations. When Prime Minister Imran Khan refused to meet their demands, more violence erupted across the country and authorities arrested the TLP leader — prompting TLP supporters to hit back by kidnapping six state security personnel in Lahore this past weekend. Authorities have now banned the TLP outright and are bracing for more violence in the coming days. France, meanwhile, has urged all of its citizens to leave Pakistan.

More Show less

1,544: South African authorities say that at least 1,544 square miles of land has already been destroyed by wildfires in Cape Town. Landmarks including an African antiquities library at Cape Town university were gutted by the flames, while communities around the historic Table Mountain were evacuated as fire engulfed the area.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal