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Immigration activists walked out on virtual meeting with Biden administration

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US President Joe Biden (File photo)

Immigration activists have walked out on a virtual meeting with top officials in the administration of US President Joe Biden, according to a report.

The video meeting with several Biden administration officials, including people from the Department of Homeland Security officials and the White House Domestic Policy Council’s Esther Olavarria, was held on Saturday morning.

Advocates had asked for time before the beginning of the meeting and read a statement in which they accused the administration of "playing politics with human lives," saying they could not "come into these conversations in good conscience," according to Politico.

“We have sadly reached a turning point,” they said, then most of them exited the video call.

“I cannot stand one more meeting of them pretending,” said Ariana Saludares, an advocate from the New Mexico-based Colores United, who was in the meeting. “They give us accolades on the outside, but on the inside, we're having to take out the metaphoric knives from our back.”

Immigration advocates participate in a virtual meeting with Biden administration officials before staging a walk-out on Oct. 16, 2021. (Photo via POLITICO)

The advocates were angry with the Biden administration’s decision to continue border policies enacted during the administration of former president Donald Trump.

The Biden administration has decided to reinstate Migrant Protection Protocols after a court struck down the Democratic president’s initial attempt to do away with the Trump-era policy.

On Friday, the administration announced that, beginning next month, they would reinstate the practice of forcing migrants at the southern border to wait in Mexico while their US asylum cases were processed in the courts.

Tensions between the Biden administration and immigration advocates have been increasing for months. Activists argue the Biden administration’s decisions are being driven largely by politics, pointing out that senior White House officials see the border as a potentially toxic issue for the Democratic Party.

"I think they're afraid of the backlash of anti-immigrant groups, and we'll continue to remind them that that backlash will exist regardless of what they do," said Luis Guerra, a strategic capacity officer at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, who was among those who walked out of Saturday's meeting.  

"We don't actually believe they're doing everything in their power to actually restore asylum at the border, the way that they say that they're trying to," Guerra told Politico.

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