(Dec. 20, 2021) - Joe Biden’s electoral victory over Trump was a big relief for those who advocate for immigrants’ rights. The immigrant community is hopeful and skeptical at the same time. This article will focus on the potential of Biden’s administration to impact immigrants.
Campaign Promises Yet To Be Fulfilled
Immigrants and advocates are watching the administration closely to make sure Biden fulfills his campaign promises. In his first year in office, many of Biden’s campaign promises are still a work in progress. Some notable examples are:
- a handful of families have been reunited
- by Biden since the Trump administration separated them at the border.
- Biden has
- yet to end the private detention of immigrants
- as he promised on the campaign trail.
- Biden has raised the
- refugee cap
- to 62,500 refugees. This is far above the previous administration’s cap, but far below his original promise of 125,000 refugees.
- Though Biden did place a
- temporary moratorium
- on deportations on his first day in office, there have been
- thousands of deportations
- since his time in office.
Hope & Skepticism
One of the biggest campaign promises that Joe Biden is yet to fulfill is creating a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States. If the Biden administration is able to pull this off, this would be the most beneficial immigration policy in the last 35 years. A pathway to citizenship for 11 million people is a large feat and there are equal amounts of hope and skepticism about the plausibility of its passing from promise to law.
Ilsia Muñiz with Immigrant Connection noticed an immediate difference in her work after the election. They received an increase of calls of people asking if there was a pathway to citizenship after Biden’s victory.
“With everything on the news, people are needing the right information about what is true and what isn’t. Many people have hope that with this administration, a pathway will open up for them. Then again, there’s those who have lost hope altogether.”
– Ilsia Muñiz
Juan Castellanos, a Mexican immigrant who benefited from Reagan’s amnesty in 1986 reflects on the current political culture. He is hopeful that Biden will provide a pathway to citizenship but hypothesizes that it will be on a much smaller scale than Regan’s.
“I think it will come in small doses because today everything has changed and I think everything has become too politicized. I think that every angle is political. I think [Biden] does have good intentions. I believe that Biden does want to do much more than the Democratic party wants but I believe that he is going to present it in parts and in phases. I believe that he will also try to negotiate some of it for re-election with the immigration issue as every president has done.” – Juan Castellanos
Cleaning Up After Trump’s Mess
As Trump’s successor, one of the biggest hurdles identified by advocates is rebuilding the asylum and immigration system that Trump destroyed. Immigration Attorney, Chris Richardson, compares the situation to putting out a fire.
“Trump made over 400 immigration changes and trying to balance which of those changes to go after is hard. Trump just threw a lot of stuff at the wall – just to see what was going to work and some of it worked some of it didn’t work. […] I think that’s his big challenge, it’s finding a way to have enough of a staff that actually can go through and say ‘okay so Trump changed this, Trump changed that, what are we doing to change it back?’ while also trying to move forward on immigration and presenting new proposals and ideas and also dealing with a congress that doesn’t really want to pick up the issue at all.” – Chris Richardson
While Biden’s biggest challenge may be rebuilding a system that has been set on fire by Trump, some argue that it should not be used as an excuse to take enough action. Marty Rosenbluth from Polanco Law is aware of the delicate balance between patience and high expectations of the U.S. President.
“To be fair, Trump dismantled a lot of the infrastructure but it can be rebuilt. The people who built it before are still here; they can be rehired, offices can be reopened. Not to be trite, but where there is a will there’s a way.” - Martin Rosenbluth
Biden has the potential to pass one of the most beneficial immigration policies in decades. Immigrants and advocates are taking note of where Biden is fulfilling his promises and where he is falling short. Though it is early on in his presidency, opinions vary on the probability of these promises becoming law. With Joe Biden’s victory over Trump, the immigrant community sighed with relief and hope. But for many, the hope is measured.