Migration in the US, the great challenge for Joe Biden

Washington.- The issue of immigration is not among the four priorities marked on the website of the president-elect of the United States. During the campaign he went through the matter almost on tiptoe, as if it had not been one of the crucial issues during the term of Donald Trump or one of the current president’s weapons in his eagerness to implement his harshest, isolationist and racist and xenophobic overtones.

However, Joe Biden has promised that it will be one of his main issues to address from the first minute he enters the White House, aware of the work that lies ahead to undo the more than 400 regulations, guidelines and policies that the current Republican president it has implemented to carry out its policy of restricting migration in the United States.

The Democrat’s will be a daunting task. “During the Trump administration, immigration was one of the top political priorities,” Sarah Pierce, an expert at the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), recently summarized. “They invested everything they had in enacting their agenda. I believe that under the Biden administration, we are about to see that the pace of changes in immigration will slow down significantly, “he added a week ago, in a virtual colloquium on the future of immigration policies with the new administration.

“Trump has waged a relentless assault on our values ​​and our history as a nation of immigrants. It is wrong and it stops when Joe Biden is elected president, ”read the Biden website, still a candidate. The Democrat makes explicit that he is aware that “our immigration system is under greater strain as a direct result of Trump’s wrong policies.”

On that page, he pointed out in a list of maximums everything he wants to do to change the current migratory context in the country, which is summarized as follows: reverse all the changes applied by the Trump administration and return to the situation in which he was during the end of Barack Obama’s presidency. And, once there, building towards a new model that solves an immigration system that everyone agrees is totally broken, is inefficient and causes more problems than solutions.

Just as Trump focused much of his mandate on undoing the path traveled by his predecessor, Biden is willing to eliminate everything that the current president has done on immigration. Nothing that smacks of Trump’s anti-immigrant policy seems to have a place in a Biden administration. “Everything that was done administratively through the executive authority [del presidente], a new Executive can basically reject it and start from scratch, “a source close to Biden told CBS News.

None of the promises and actions of the Republican (the wall on the US-Mexico border, the immigration vetoes, the Zero Tolerance policy, the attack on the DACA program …) have much aspiration to stay with the Democrat in the White House.

Political promises are always based on everything a candidate promises he will do in his first 100 days in office, as a guideline to demonstrate the bias of his ideas. In the immigration case, Biden has an endless list of proposals: end family separation at the border, reverse Trump’s asylum policies and his disastrous handling of the matter, strike down the “public charge” measures for migrants who need subsidies federal, protect dreamers, seek a path to citizenship of the undocumented, abolish immigration bans, improve temporary visa programs, change the priorities of detention and deportation …

“The easiest will be those that can be reversed with an administrative action, such as an executive order, but that do not entail great logistical challenges,” said Pierce. Basically, those that can be solved with the signing of a decree and completely suppress actions of character opposed to the immigration idea of ​​the Democratic president-elect.

The simplest thing will be to repeal the immigration veto decrees, the first major measure in the matter applied by the Trump administration, in the first week of his administration, which generated chaos and hundreds of protests. The first version had to be canceled, under the shadow of xenophobia for including only countries with a Muslim majority. A new decree dictating the end will be enough; however, lawsuits are likely to appear in court that slow down their enforcement.

Then there are the more complex tasks, those that need to go through Congress. “I have made it clear that, in 100 days, I will send the United States Congress a path to citizenship for more than 11 million undocumented citizens. And for the dreamers, the kids with DACA, we are going to certify their legality again, so that they are in this country, and we will put them on the path to citizenship […] We owe it to them, ”Biden said in the second and final presidential debate on October 22. Both groups, the undocumented and the around 640,000 dreamers protected from deportation, are mainly of Mexican origin.

That law that he intends to present would not be stopped here: he also wants Congress to approve reforms in the temporary visa programs, extend the TPS program to protect about 400 thousand citizens from various countries (most of them Central American) and expand Venezuelans persecuted for political reasons, improve conditions for seasonal agricultural workers and give them a path to legal residence.

These are promises, however, that only have a trace of success if the Democrats manage to control the Senate, something that right now seems utopian and that will be resolved on January 5, when the elections for two seats for Georgia are completed. With the Republicans getting one, the Upper House will be controlled by the conservatives and any immigration change through the legislature will be practically impossible.

Biden has also promised a 100-day moratorium on deportations and a 180-degree shift in the goal of immigration officers in enforcing detainers for removal purposes, reverting to the Obama-era indication of targeting those who have committed serious crimes and are a threat to national security, turning a blind eye to those without prior records or pending issues with the justice. “[Los indocumentados sin antecedentes] They would not have to be subject to deportation, ”Biden said in the first debate of the Democratic primary, back in June 2019.

Biden also wants to end as soon as possible with the MPP program, known as Stay in Mexico, which expels asylum seekers to Mexico to await their appointments with the courts, in refugee camps abandoned by any government. For experts, however, it will be a more complex task. Although it could be eliminated with just one signature, the logistical issue is more complex, since it would be necessary to clarify what to do with migrants who are currently within the program, for example.

It is precisely the recovery of the asylum system that, according to experts, could be most significant. “Perhaps the most important effort a new administration could take is to fix the asylum system and make it fair and efficient,” MPI experts write in a recent report.

Biden has already promised to increase the number of refugees to 125,000 in the near future (there is no deadline to fulfill that promise), reversing Trump’s policy of increasingly reducing acceptances of asylum applications, to the all-time low of 15,000. of this 2019, the lowest figure ever seen, to “restore the historical role in the protection of the most vulnerable and protect the rights of refugees.”

The whole idea of ​​”legal” migration, Trump’s desire to change the US immigration system to one based on merit and socioeconomic conditions will also enter the analysis. Biden wants to end that and base much of his plan on the belief that families deserve to be able to reunite and share immigration status.

And then, collaterally, there is the issue of the wall, which has a clear and forceful resolution: it is completely stopped. The declaration of national emergency with which he wanted to divert funds from the Pentagon to the construction of the wall will be withdrawn immediately, and the works will be stopped immediately as soon as Biden signs the corresponding executive order.

The Democrat has a lot of work ahead of him on immigration matters. “The Trump administration was extraordinarily preoccupied with immigration issues and invested an enormous amount of attention and a determined focus on immigration,” Doris Meissner, former US Immigration and Naturalization Service commissioner in the Clinton administration, told CBS News. “An administration that wants to undo those changes would have to devote a similar amount of time and effort, and possibly more, because it not only wants to undo things. It also wants to move a proactive agenda,” added Meissner, also director of the MPI’s immigration policy program. .

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