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Biden tries get tougher on border security without alienating immigrant communities

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

President Biden is beefing up his border team. The news comes on the same day that the White House finalized a plan to offer health care to people brought to the country illegally as children. It's the latest example of how Biden is trying to balance two political priorities - getting tougher on border security without alienating immigrant communities. NPR White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez has the story.

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Last summer, President Biden promised that tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants brought to the country illegally as children - that he wants them here to stay.

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PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: One of the proudest accomplishments of the Obama-Biden administration.

ORDOÑEZ: He was talking about the deferred action program known as DACA. And today, his team finalized plans to allow those immigrants to apply for medical coverage through the Affordable Care Act. Neera Tanden is one of Biden's top aides. She told reporters health care should be a right for all Americans, including DACA recipients.

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NEERA TANDEN: They're our neighbors. They are college graduates, small business owners, STEM professionals, essential workers and so much more.

ORDOÑEZ: The move comes at a time that Biden is under growing pressure to tighten border restrictions. The increase in migrants has become one of his biggest political liabilities this election year. Here's Evan Roth Smith, a Democratic pollster for the strategy group Blueprint.

EVAN ROTH SMITH: The electorate is not antiimmigrant, and they're not antilegal pathways to immigration. In fact, they like both of those things.

ORDOÑEZ: Biden tried to reach a deal with Congress on new border measures, but those talks stalled. Now the White House is bringing in a new point person for border issues. It's Blas Nunez-Neto from the Department of Homeland Security. He comes in as the White House considers new options for this difficult issue.

Franco Ordoñez, NPR News, the White House. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Franco Ordoñez is a White House Correspondent for NPR's Washington Desk. Before he came to NPR in 2019, Ordoñez covered the White House for McClatchy. He has also written about diplomatic affairs, foreign policy and immigration, and has been a correspondent in Cuba, Colombia, Mexico and Haiti.