News & Politics

Undoing Trump Immigration Policies Won't Be Easy for Biden

Undoing Trump Immigration Policies Won't Be Easy for Biden
AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File

Donald Trump so profoundly changed U.S. immigration policy that it will be years before Joe Biden can alter it completely. That’s the opinion of many immigration law experts who are advising Joe Biden on immigration policy.

“They’re realizing that they have two months to figure out a really complicated mess of things,” a source familiar with the transition told CNN, referring to the Biden team. “People are really overwhelmed trying to figure out the sheer issues, the sheer number of pieces you have to coordinate. This is the genius of Stephen Miller.”

Indeed, since some policies were negotiated with sovereign nations, they can’t just be ended because Biden doesn’t like them.

The makeup of the Biden-Harris transition team reviewing the Department of Homeland Security appears to signal the incoming administration’s awareness of those actions, with Ur Jaddou, former chief counsel at US Citizenship and Immigration Services, as the team lead, and with the selection of Alejandro Mayorkas as Homeland Security secretary. But undoing policies — as Biden has said he’d do — will be a steep challenge, both logistically and politically.

“They’re coming into the office with a mandate and an intent — in many ways needed and appropriate — to reverse Trump-era immigration policies,” a former Homeland Security official told CNN.

An example would be Biden’s desire to up the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. to 125,000. But those policies that govern refugee arrivals would need to be changed at the agency level — a long and arduous task.

But a change in actual arrivals would require policy changes and new refugee interviews, according to a source familiar with the process. The diversion of refugee officers to work on asylum cases the past two years has also left the pipeline largely void of refugees who are advanced in the system, the source said. There are also challenges that arise with Covid-19, including US Citizenship and Immigration Services interview teams being unable to travel.

The Biden team appears to realize what they’re asking for. They say they want to be “ready” for any surge in refugee and asylum requests.

“You don’t want a surge to happen before you’re ready to handle it,” said Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank. “They’re going to have to rely on one of the policies they hate the most and that they disagree with philosophically, so that they can get to a long term fix.”

The former DHS official echoed that concern: “You have to have a pressure valve in place before you start unwinding down these policies or you’ll allow a crisis to generate.”

Are they this stupid or didn’t they see what happened at the border last year? There were nearly a million border apprehensions in 2019 with about 60,000 remaining in Mexico. How are you going to “get ready” for that?

Well, they’re smarter and more moral than the rest of us. I’m sure they’ll figure it out.


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