By: Damon Day
During his first weeks in office, President Biden already pushed for the comprehensive immigration reform he advocated for during his campaign. In less than a month as president, Biden issued a total of 8 executive orders relating to immigration and unveiled the 2021 U.S. Citizenship Act.
So far, Biden’s executive actions relating to immigration have mostly focused on the revocation of former President Donald Trump’s executive orders. Some of Biden’s reversals of the Trump administration’s policies include: revoking the highly controversial Muslim travel ban, reincluding undocumented immigrants in the Census tabulation, preserving DACA protections, terminating the construction of the border wall, reversing the “zero tolerance” policy of family separation at the border, and ending the “remain in Mexico” asylum policy at the southern border.
In fact, Biden announced he would allow 25,000 asylum seekers currently waiting in Mexico into the US, a significant step in rebuilding and re-energizing US immigration policy. While it may seem like Biden has already made significant progress in advancing significant immigration reform in just his first few weeks in office, he really has only just reached the tip of the iceberg as almost all of his executive orders so far are directed at reversing Trump administration policies, rather than implement new policies.
If Biden really wants to make significant immigration reform, he will have to do so through Congress. The 2021 U.S. Citizenship Act seeks to do just that, with its bold and comprehensive reform that includes a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States. Biden’s immigration bill also includes support for “smarter” border security and funding to support and “address root causes of migration.”
Biden’s immigration bill lives up to his campaign promises of a “fair and humane immigration system,” but the boldness of the bill will likely face opposition in a deeply divided Congress. On top of that, immigration reform may not be one of the Biden administration’s priorities as COVID-19 relief, climate change, infrastructure, and health insurance will compete in importance. It is likely that Biden will have to end up compromising and pulling back on some of the contentious commitments to get the legislation through Congress.
President Biden’s swift revocation of many of the Trump admin’s policies, combined with bold and amendatory immigration reform in the Citizenship Act hint that Biden is not planning to mess around when it comes to immigration policy. In just the first weeks of his presidency, Biden’s clear and detailed immigration policy is effectively rebuking the Trump administration’s immigration policies that were headlined by its border wall, the “zero tolerance” policy of separating families at the border, and reducing refugee and immigrant quotas. Nevertheless, Biden has yet to prove his ability to compromise with lawmakers and pass bipartisan legislation, something that will be required to get through a split senate.
"My name is Damon and I’m a senior at BASIS Scottsdale in Arizona. At my school, I participate in Quiz Bowl, Red Cross, Youth For Refugees, and Leadership club. In my free time, I love to watch college sports, cook with my family, and travel the world. At K.I.D., I am excited to help spread awareness for issues that I am passionate about like the global refugee crisis."