Under the former president Donald Trump’s administration, their signature immigration policies were undoubtedly one of the most controversial issues of the entire term served. The migrant policies along the southern border and related programs were not only claimed to be against the values on which the United States stood but also against basic human ethics.
The campaign promises made by Joe Biden during the 2020 presidential elections had everyone fastening their hopes for better immigration laws once the presidency switches. Biden’s administration recently kept the words taking its first step towards dismantling the previous immigration policies with new protection laws and more. Before getting deep into the reforms offered by Biden, let’s have a quick look at the previous guidelines under Trump and their severe impact on thousands.
The Immigration Policies under Trump
The infamous Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as “Remain in Mexico,” left thousands seeking asylum from Central America and many other parts of the US stranded on the US-Mexico border, awaiting a chance to enter the country.
The major immigration policies under the Trump administration revolved around the following –
- Restriction on legal immigration.
- Building the border wall.
- Reducing the number of refugees and asylum seekers.
- Halting the benefits received by immigrants.
- End of the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program and deport its recipients.
- Restrict travel and visas from certain countries.
- Modify the H-1B visa program.
The Impact of Trump’s policy on Immigrants–
The MPP was stated to violate the US immigration laws, which have been in effect for decades, ensuring the safety and proper procedure for all the immigrants. It also goes against the international obligations and standards on the treatment of those who seek asylum.
Many immigrants deported to Mexico under Trump’s presidency were subjected to violence and persecution, forced to live under horrific conditions, especially children. Some people await the outcome of their cases in court, while many can’t even afford or assess proper legal assistance.
Many Mexican states these immigrants return to has records of high crime rates, with issues ranging from murder, armed robbery, kidnapping, sexual assault, extortion, and homelessness, among others.
Though they initially had to wait for months for their turn at the hearing, Trump’s administration put an indefinite halt to the hearings due to the pandemic last year, worsening the situation.
The policies had severe implications for the immigrants and seemingly have backlashes on the US regarding their economic standpoint too. Since a significant section of the US population supporting government funds and taxes, and most working-class consists of immigrants.
The bottom line –
While these are just a few policies and impacts of the Trump administration’s immigration policies, there is so much more to the ground reality, with both forward and backward arguments justifying their course of actions?
The Biden Administration and New Policies
The Presidential elections of 2020 were hugely based on the campaign promises by Joe Biden, arguing the removal of such policies with improved laws to support the immigrants. And that is what Biden’s administration is precisely doing by claiming to allow thousands of asylum seekers into the US.
About 25,000 people seeking asylum who were forcibly left stranded on the Mexico border will be given a chance at protection in the United States, says the Biden Government.
These people mainly include- Cubans, Hondurans, and Guatemalans and currently have active cases in the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), or infamously known as the “Remain in Mexico” program under the Donald Trump Administration.
The Entry Protocol –
The Homeland Security Department announced the process commencement from the 19th of February, 2021. The procedure will handle approx. of 300 people daily along the US-Mexico border with three ports of entry. If the course’s pace is maintained, all these immigrants will be processed by the end of May this year.
In view of the ongoing pandemic, these migrants will be provided with an appointment to cross to the other side. There they will be tested for the coronavirus and then permitted into the United States.
These migrants will not be forced into the detention centers but will be placed under “alternatives to detention” programs.
Under the program, the immigrants will be released into the country with proper measures and monitoring, usually done by social workers. The monitoring is necessary to ensure that people show up for the immigration court dates and not disappear within the country illegally.
This detention alternative is a bold step by President Joe Biden. These are much humane and economical than detention centers that were another unhealthy practice of Donald Trump’s immigration policy.
What About Other Immigrants?
Though the decision to process the asylum seekers who are subject to MPP suggests a more humane and compassionate approach towards the issue, the Biden government is accused of not taking quick and more effective measures against the reversal of Trump policies.
The order by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) that allows the United States to turn away thousands of immigrants on pandemic-related grounds also questions the efficiency of Biden’s decision.
Confirming the facts, Jen Psaki, the white house press secretary, stated that the order by CDC would remain in place for the time being. The asylum seekers not subjected to MPP have already been warned against arriving at the borders, as their petitions will not be processed.
Adding to the statements, DHS secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says, “This recent action is yet another step in our commitment at reforming immigration policies that don’t align with the nation’s values.
Mainly at the border, but where capacity constraints remain severe, changes will take some time.
Individuals not eligible under this initial phase must wait for further instructions not traveling to the border.”
The Objective and Suggested Impact –
Many of Trump’s policies justifying the harsh regulations for immigrants were backed by the arguments like national security concerns, illegal residence, the increase in crime rates, and economic distress, among many others.
The Biden’s Administration claims to reverse the “Remain in Mexico” policy and reorient Immigration and Customs Enforcement in a way to muddle through each of these issues at once. For what seems like a significant shift in the United States’ immigration process, Biden prioritizes national security threats over convicting the illegal immigrants with simple DUIs and assaults, among other low-level felonies.
Additional Issues and Efforts –
The latest data from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University suggests that over 71,000 immigrants have been subject to MPP throughout the program at the end of January 2021. Most of these cases have no access to lawyers and lack proper representation, and not more than 2% have been completed, receiving some sort of protection in the united states.
Additional problems were caused by the pandemic resulting in an indefinite suspension of petitions and hearings.
People subject to MPP were forced to wait for months in Mexico, leaving them with no choice but to return to their respective country, giving the authorities option to label them deported in their absence.
The Joe Biden administration also plans on identifying these people and provide them with a chance to seek protection in the US. Biden also previously announced that the US would discontinue enrolling people in MPP but has not halted the process entirely as of yet.
Another promise is a surge in ‘Humanitarian Resources” at the border. This includes an initial screening of the immigrants at the border by asylum officers. This is supposed to ease immigration courts’ burden as the US Citizenship and Immigration Services division will lead these immigrants’ cases.
Republicans slam the Decision –
Seemingly ramped over the national security concerns, the republican party has criticized Biden’s move to grant entry to 25,000 asylum seekers through the southern borders.
The Final Say
Joe Biden’s effort in rolling back the much-condemned immigration policies by the Trump administration is no short on conflicting views. While national security is certainly not an issue that can be overlooked, stepping towards better handling of the crisis is the need of the hour.
The policies implemented during the time served by Donald Trump had their fair share of severe implications on thousands. Those who simply looked for better lives, fundamental human rights, and protection were subjected to brutal conditions and faced loss.
The step taken by Biden’s administration might not be widely inclusive or as efficient but has brought a ray of hope in the lives of many after the hardships faced previously. It will be interesting noticing how this decision will impact the US immigration laws in the time to come, giving tens and thousands of men a better chance at life.