The nation is gearing up for significant policy change come January when President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into office. He has a pretty ambitious list of measures he plans to tackle almost immediately, among the most cumbersome of which might be immigration.
Over the last four years, the Trump administration’s hardline approach to immigration stoked public outrage and uncertainty among the nation’s immigrant community. Biden has said that he plans to reverse Trump-era policies, including the construction of the southern border wall and child separation, however, some reforms may take time and congressional consensus to achieve.
Listen: Biden’s ambitious immigration plan
Arelis Hernandez is a reporter for The Washington Post, covering the U.S. Southern border, immigration, Texas, and more. She says that there are certain policies Biden can implement on day one that would have a large impact on the county’s immigration system. The border wall and deportations are two areas where Hernandez expects Biden to act. “Deportations were not that high under President Trump… but his administration did change some of the priorities for enforcement and so some of that under Biden is expected to change, that the priority would shift away from anyone who is in the country illegally to folks who are convicted of committing crimes,” says Hernandez.
According to Hernandez, Biden also has plans to restore access to legal immigration and increase the asylum quota threshold. Ultimately, though, there are policies that Biden will need congress to act on. “Immigration in itself is so complicated, it’s so vast, it’s so broad that this is something that Congress has to tackle… There are still clear limits on what a president can do on immigration policy… Ultimately, this is Congress’ responsibility,” says Hernandez.
Juan Gonzalez-Martinez is a DACA recipient from Southwest Detroit and is attending law school at Loyola University in Chicago. He says that the Trump administration’s immigration policy was a low point. “I’m expecting a change in current Trump-era policies, but that bar is set extremely low,” says Gonzalez-Martinez, he adds that it’s not enough for him to go back to Obama-era policies “which resulted in record deportations.” He hopes that Biden can learn from past mistakes and change course on immigration policy.
This post was written by Clare Brennan