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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following President Biden’s State of the Union address Thursday evening – in which he urged Congress to “send [him] the border bill now” that included the “toughest set of border security reforms we’ve ever seen in this country” – a coalition of 70 immigrant and refugee rights organizations, the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), responded by grading the administration on their overall immigrant integration policies.

In his remarks, President Biden urged Republicans to take up the failed Senate bill that would hire more border agents, immigration judges, and asylum officers, as well as give him “new emergency authority to temporarily shut down the border.” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene interrupted the President, calling out “Laken Riley,” the name of a student killed by a man from Venezuela, which Biden affirmed by calling him “an illegal.”

NPNA responded to the address by rating the Biden administration on various aspects of immigrant integration via a scorecard, and calling out the President for his degrading language. “Words are important,” the coalition stated in a Tweet, “and degrading our immigrant communities with the word ‘illegal’ is nothing short of unacceptable.” 

While the coalition gave a passing grade to the administration for improvements to naturalization efforts, they see an opportunity for the administration to greatly improve their efforts to protect asylum and DACA, rebuild refugee resettlement infrastructure, and support state and local efforts to welcome newcomers – and this starts with taking great care and responsibility to speak of all people, regardless of immigration status, with dignifying language.

Said Nicole Melaku, NPNA executive director, “When it comes to immigrant inclusion, the Biden administration has made progress in some areas – particularly in naturalizing record-breaking numbers of new citizens and nearly eliminating the naturalization backlog. But there are other areas in which we cannot give President Biden a passing grade or full nod of approval. And in the strongest possible terms, we condemn the President’s use of language that dehumanizes anyone. In keeping with his own commitments, the President has a responsibility to continue progress on the restarted Task Force on New Americans, enact welcoming solutions for refugees, asylum-seekers, DACA recipients, Dreamers, TPS holders, and the many other immigrants in the country that have long called the United States ‘home.’ 

“Veering away from solution-building to election year politicking not only harms immigrant communities, but goes against the electorate’s desire for workable solutions that address challenges at the border and create more workable immigration pathways. American voters – including nearly 900,000 New American citizens and potential voters – are expecting this from the Biden administration and watching as the November election approaches. It’s not too late for President Biden to apologize and adjust his language, and ‘retake the class’ to earn passing grades on proactive immigrant inclusion measures – and we are eager to continue working with him to get there.”

The National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) is a multi-ethnic, multiracial coalition of 66 of the nation’s largest immigrant and refugee rights organizations with reach across over 40 states. Together with our members, we advance immigrant and refugee equity and inclusion, build and expand immigration legal services and integration programming capacity, and drive campaigns that strengthen democracy through increased civic participation. See our website for more information at