In 1994, President Bill Clinton authorized a prevention through deterrence strategy as a part of Operation Gatekeeper to redistribute border security, heightening its presence in urban areas in the hopes of deterring undocumented immigration.
Two years after the prevention through deterrence policies, Congress passed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act of 1996 with President Clinton’s approval.
In the aftermath of 9/11, President George W. Bush signed legislation to create the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), resulting in a complete reorganization of governmental departments. Immigration and Naturalization Services moved from the Department of Justice to the newly formed DHS and created U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in 2003.
In late 2008, just months before President Barack Obama was sworn into office, the Department of Homeland Security launched Secure Communities. The new program used fingerprints and surveillance of local law enforcement agencies to detect and apprehend undocumented immigrants.
Near the end of President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office, he started a pilot program to separate families at the border in El Paso, Texas without designing a clear system to track the children or reunite them with their parents. Any migrants crossing the U.S. border illegally, including asylum-seekers, were detained and criminally charged.
President Joe Biden ran a campaign focused on reversing President Trump’s tough policies on immigration and detention. In his first 100 days, Biden committed to pass immigration policies that welcome asylum-seekers and work to end for-profit detention centers.