As a presidential candidate, Mr. Biden promised to either roll back or change many of Trump’s immigration policies. After a month in office, he has indeed made many changes to the United States’ immigration policy. Here is a summary of the most significant changes and what they mean for the country.
The first and most significant change in immigration policy is regarding the Trump-era’ Remain in Mexico’ policy, formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP). MPP was implemented by Trump to stop immigrants from showing up at the border claiming to seek asylum, after which they would be given a court date where a judge would review their claim. Before MPP, immigrants would await asylum within the borders of the United States, and CBP and DHS officials did not (and do not) have enough personnel to track the thousands of illegal immigrants seeking asylum. It made it all too easy for people to simply evade law enforcement and disappear into the mainland United States. Trump implemented MPP to ensure that this would not happen. However, President Biden, as one of the first actions he took as president, put a moratorium on MPP and suspended all deportations taking place. As a result, people who are caught crossing the border will once again be allowed to enter the U.S. interior and await asylum here. As a result, we face the same problem as we did before, with people slipping through the cracks and escaping into the mainland United States.
Exacerbating the problem, on February 18, 2021, President Biden introduced the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 (USCA) to Congress. If passed in Congress, the USCA would provide sweeping amnesty to the almost 11 million illegal immigrants currently residing within the United States if they were living within the United States prior to January 1, 2021. However, the bill does not specify precisely how the government plans on determining if an immigrant was here in the U.S. before or after the 1st, as the point of illegal immigration is to avoid any record of your entry. Combine this with the moratorium on MPP, and anyone who can get into the country and avoid documentation will receive USCA benefits, for the government would have no way of identifying them as recent immigrants.
The result has been a stream of immigrants rushing to the border, eagerly seeking to partake of the benefits of the USCA. According to the Customs and Border Protection agency, they have been facing an uptick in people attempting to cross the border illegally in 2021, averaging about 3,000 arrests per day in January, or about 90,000 across the entire month. The Biden administration must take steps to stem the flow of illegal immigrants or, as former Trump immigration adviser Stephen Miller said, USCA will “fundamentally erase the very essence of America’s nationhood.”
Photo Credit: Greg Bulla on Unsplash