Posted on November 12, 2020

Biden Plans Sweeping Reversal of Trump’s Immigration Agenda

Camilo Montoya-Galvez, CBS News, November 11, 2020

While the COVID-19 public health crisis and its impact on the U.S. economy will preoccupy President-elect Joe Biden during his first weeks in office, the incoming Democratic administration is also expected to quickly start dismantling President Trump’s immigration agenda.

After Mr. Biden is sworn-in in January, his administration will move to fully restore an Obama-era program that shields 640,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children from deportation, halting Mr. Trump’s unsuccessful efforts to end it, people familiar with the plans told CBS News. The incoming administration also intends to rescind Mr. Trump’s travel and immigration restrictions on 13 mostly African or predominantly Muslim countries.

Mr. Biden will look to implement a 100-day freeze on deportations while his administration issues guidance narrowing who can be arrested by immigration agents. Obama-era memosthat prioritized the deportation of immigrants with criminal convictions, recent border-crossers and those who entered the country illegally more than once were scrapped in 2017 by Mr. Trump so that no unauthorized immigrant would be exempted from being arrested and removed from the country.

A source familiar with Mr. Biden’s plans said new guidance would be designed to curb so-called “collateral arrests,” which are apprehensions of immigrants who are not the target of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operations but are nevertheless taken into custody because they are in the country without legal status.

Mr. Trump made immigration a major theme of his insurgent and successful 2016 campaign. Despite frequent court challenges, his administration achieved rare success on this front in four years, reshaping the U.S. immigration system through more than 400high-profile and little-noticed policy changes.

However, all of Mr. Trump’s immigration measures — from the so-called “travel ban” and the efforts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, to new requirements for green cards and the asylum restrictions for migrants at the U.S. southern border — were enacted without Congress through proclamations, policy memos, regulations or other executive actions.

With his defeat, Mr. Trump’s immigration policy changes are now vulnerable — and Mr. Biden’s team is eager to begin the process of undoing most of them.


At the southern border, Mr. Biden has pledged to discontinue the Trump administration’s policy of requiring non-Mexican migrants to wait in Mexico for the duration of their U.S asylum cases. {snip}

A source familiar with the Biden team’s planning said the incoming administration will withdraw from the three bilateral agreements Mr. Trump brokered with Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras that allow the U.S. to send rejected asylum-seekers to those countries and have them seek refuge there.

The incoming administration will also look at reinstating an Obama administration initiative that allowed certain at-risk children in Central America to request refugee or parole status and reunite with their families in the U.S. if their parents were authorized to be in the country, the source said. {snip}


Mr. Biden’s team is also planning to begin the process of terminating the “public charge” rules the Trump administration implemented to deny green cards and immigrant visas to applicants who U.S. officials determine rely — or could rely in the future — on government benefits like Medicaid, food stamps and Section 8 housing vouchers. Because the 2019 rules were instituted through the regulatory process, experts expect their rescission to take longer than that of presidential directives.


Mr. Biden has yet to say whether his administration will continue, alter or completely scrap Mr. Trump’s pandemic-era limits on immigrant and work visas. {snip}

The president-elect has promised to dramatically increase refugees admissions, moving away from the record-low 15,000 spots set by Mr. Trump and raising the cap to 125,000. Mr. Biden has also pledged to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to certain Venezuelan exiles in the U.S. to shield them from deportation.


While Mr. Biden’s team will have the legal authority to overturn Mr. Trump’s policies, Doris Meissner, a former commissioner of the now-defunct Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), said it will not be an easy endeavor, given bureaucratic requirements, the ongoing COVID-19 emergency and the volume of changes implemented over the past four years.


Mr. Biden has vowed to introduce legislation that would allow the nation’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants to legalize their status, but such an effort — which has proved elusive for two decades — would need to be approved by a divided Congress. Several House Democrats lost their seats last week and while control of the Senate will hinge on the outcome of two Georgia races in January, any potential Democratic majority would be razor-thin.