Marjorie Taylor Greene praises Melania Trump for being a good immigrant

Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia has praised former First Lady Melania Trump as a model immigrant to the United States as a rule allowing immigration officials to deport migrants as a public health measure ends.

Ms Greene’s comments about Ms Trump came as she was addressing the House of Representatives on Wednesday with remarks about the state of the country’s southern border and broader immigration policies.

“I would like to remind everyone that Republicans believe in legal immigration,” Ms Greene said. “As a matter of fact, we are very proud of our former first lady, Melania Trump, who immigrated legally to the United States. But there is a clear difference in policies when we talk about border and security for the United States of America.”

Ms Greene, a self-identified Christian nationalist who supported efforts to overturn the result of the 2020 presidential election and lost her committee assignments in the last Congress for endorsing political violence, favours strict immigration control at the US-Mexico border.

Immigration has taken centre stage this week in Washington as Title 42, the public health order put in place that allowed the government to expel migrants who arrived from countries with Covid-19 outbreaks, is lifted today.

Progressives have long decried Title 42 as a guise to deny migrants, incluidng asylum-seekers, the due process typically provided under US law. But House Republicans like Ms Greene supported the order and today are set to pass a law that would codify many of its restrictions.

A right-wing immigration bill is exceedingly unlikely to become law given Democratic control of the Senate and White House. Notably, President Joe Biden has himself taken steps to limit the availability of asylum to people who attempt to enter the US through the southern border and limit migration more broadly with large numbers of people hoping the end of Title 42 will allow to pursue a better life in the US.

Mr Biden’s plan includes placing more law enforcement officers at the border and handing more resources to agencies like Customs and Border Protection and ICE to run deportation flights and combat illegal immigration. The Biden administration has also been negociating with Mexico in an effort to get the Mexican government led by Andrés Manuel López Obrador to step up its border enforcement.

One particularly controversial part of the administration’s approach is a plan to deny asylum to most people who traveled to the US from their home country through another country and did not seek asylum there first.

The ACLU has said that it plans to sue over the administration’s policies.

“We think it’s illegal under the asylum laws and is arbitrary and capricious for a number of reasons and that it will do grave harm and expose vulnerable asylum seekers to danger,” Katrina Eiland, a San Francisco-based ACLU attorney told Time.