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Three Things You Should Know … Biden & Immigration

It is a significant moment in the history of U.S. immigration policy. Comprehensive immigration reform is on the horizon with the Biden administration's commitment to rebuilding and securing our values as a nation of immigration.

1. It’s a new era for immigration policy

Among the multiple priorities of the new Biden Administration, reforming our immigration policies ranks high on the list. On its first day, the new administration already reversed some of the Trump administration’s anti-immigration (i.e., Muslim travel band, blocking DACA and TPS programs) and border enforcement such as the border child separation actions. President Biden’s executive actions mark the beginning of a new initiative to reform our immigration system. Beyond his first hundred days, there is much work to be done to modernize to build a fair and equitable immigration system.

2. What can get done?

Certain immigration policy changes can be done swiftly through executive action, whereas others require Congress’ approval. Through executive orders, the Biden administration has already:

  • Bolstered the DACA program and called on Congress to enact legislation to provide permanent status for DREAMers.
  • Revoked the Trump administration’s plan to exclude undocumented immigrants from the 2020 census count.
  • Rescinded travel and migration restrictions on 13 predominantly-Muslim countries. The order instructed the State Department to immediately begin processing visa applications.
  • Halted the wall construction along the southern border.
  • Implemented 100-day moratorium on deportations for immigrants in the U.S.Suspended policy of requiring non-Mexican asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for their court hearings.
  • Extended Deferred Enforced Departure for Liberians.

Larger-scale revamps, such as granting legal status for long-term immigrants and reforming the existing legal immigration need approval from Congress.

3. A national consensus is needed to pass comprehensive immigration reform


Since the early 2000s, there’s been a consensus on the need for comprehensive immigration reform. This consensus rested on three important legs: providing a path to regularize undocumented immigrants in the United States for years, modernizing the immigration system with new rules and up to date policies, and strengthening border security. Notwithstanding agreement on the need to update our immigration system, Congress has not taken any action steps towards implementing a reform. Republicans and Democrats have been unable to agree; in particular, Republican voters have punished Members who even participated in discussions to balance the trade-offs between border enforcement and the legalization of undocumented immigrants. Will the election of a new president open opportunities for Congress to reach a consensus on immigration reform?  Stay tuned!

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