What Biden Has Done For Immigration This Month
June is nearly over and we are now officially halfway through Biden's first year in office. Here are three main actions President Biden has taken in the month of June 2021 regarding immigration policy and reform:
- Terminating “Remain in Mexico” & Reconsidering Asylum Cases Barred by Trump Administration
At the beginning of this month President Biden officially abolished Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) otherwise known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy. This policy, put in place by the Trump Administration, barred asylum-seeking migrants entering from the Southern border from entering the U.S. to apply for asylum. This policy forced migrants to remain in dangerous situations in Mexican border towns while waiting for their court dates. “Violence, kidnappings, and getting sick” are all reasons migrants would not be able to make their court hearings (USA Today, Morin). Under the policy around 68,000 asylum-seekers were returned to Mexico (CNN, Alvarez).
As a result of terminating “Remain in Mexico”, the Biden administration is now allowing asylum-seekers whose claims were either denied or dismissed under the policy to have their cases be reconsidered. Through this action, the government is taking one step in the direction of correcting its wrongs with past policy.
- Expanding and Streamlining Legal Immigration Processes
President Biden is looking to reverse low immigration caps created by the Trump administration in many different aspects of U.S. immigration, including family-based immigration, refugee admissions, diversity visas, and employment-based green cards. Specifically, the administration has proposed a new refugee admission cap for 2022 to be 125,000 refugees from 18,000 refugees in 2020 (Pew Research Center). Additionally the new diversity visa cap will be increased to 80,000 from 50,000.
Not only is Biden planning on expanding limits on immigration, but with extensive plans of reform made by his administration, he would make immigrating to the U.S. far easier. Biden’s 46-page plan, released earlier this month, details specific ways to streamline immigration processes including shorter, simpler, and clearer forms as well as fewer security processes (New York Times, Shear, Kanno-Youngs). This streamlining would aim to remove the heavy backlog in the USCIS applications.
The successful completion of Biden’s plan will reinforce and concretely demonstrate how the U.S. values immigrants.
- Evacuating U.S.-Affiliated Afghans
The Biden administration has announced plans to evacuate Afghans who have worked with the government prior to U.S. removal from Afghanistan as a result of pressure from advocacy groups and impending threats on the lives and families of these individuals. Although it is unknown how many people will be evacuated, around 9,000 applicants are being considered for relocation as a result of reaching the end of the application process. The administration must also work within the deadline of September 11th because of it being the end of U.S. military presence in Afghanistan (Washington Post, Ryan, Gearan).
These plans signal that the government values and is working to ensure the safety of foreign allies, so hopefully we can expect similar action to occur with other foreign allies.
One can see the progress President Biden has been making to the federal immigration system, yet Biden must continue to take action and create specific policy to combat both the previous administration’s lingering broken immigration policy and the long-standing flaws in the immigration system.
Alvarez, Priscilla. “Biden Administration Formally Ends 'Remain in Mexico' Policy after Suspending It Earlier This Year.” CNN. Cable News Network, June 1, 2021. https://www.cnn.com/2021/06/01/politics/immigration-remain-in-mexico/index.html.
Beitsch, Rebecca. “DHS Considering Asylum for Migrants Whose Cases Were Terminated under Trump.” TheHill. The Hill, June 23, 2021. https://thehill.com/policy/national-security/559776-dhs-considering-migrants-whose-cases-were-terminated-in-trump-era.
Krogstad, Jens Manuel, and Ana Gonzalez-Barrera. “Key Facts about U.S. Immigration Policies and Biden's Proposed Changes.” Pew Research Center. Pew Research Center, March 22, 2021. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/03/22/key-facts-about-u-s-immigration-policies-and-bidens-proposed-changes/.
Missy Ryan, Anne Gearan. “Biden Administration Plans to Evacuate Afghans Who Worked with U.S.” The Washington Post. WP Company, June 24, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/biden-administration-will-evacuate-afghans-who-worked-with-us-official-says/2021/06/23/9e89fe16-d488-11eb-baed-4abcfa380a17_story.html.
Morin, Rebecca. “Biden Administration to Give More Asylum-Seekers Forced to Wait in Mexico Another Shot to Apply for Asylum.” USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Network, June 23, 2021. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2021/06/23/biden-admin-allow-migrants-denied-asylum-reapply-us/5321166001/.
Shear, Michael D, and Zolan Kanno-Youngs. “Biden Aims to Rebuild and Expand Legal Immigration.” The New York Times. The New York Times, May 31, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/31/us/politics/biden-immigration.html.
Image Courtesy of The New York Times