President Joe Biden ran a campaign focused on reversing President Trump’s tough policies on immigration and detention. Biden laid out a plan in his first 100 days to pass immigration policies that welcome asylum-seekers and work to end for-profit detention centers.
On Jan. 20, 2021, Biden sent the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 to Congress to modernize the immigration system in hopes of easing citizenship processes, keeping families together, promoting migrant/refugee integration and protecting immigrants from labor exploitation.
“The bill provides hardworking people who enrich our communities every day and who have lived here for years, in some cases for decades, an opportunity to earn citizenship,” the White House statement reads. “The legislation modernizes our immigration system and prioritizes keeping families together, growing our economy, responsibly managing the border with smart investments, addressing the root causes of migration from Central America, and ensuring that the United States remains a refuge for those fleeing persecution.”
The Act is currently in review in Congress is unlikely to gain Republican support.
The White House released an executive action on Feb. 2, 2021, that created a Family Reunification Task Force. The task force will use the White House’s resources to track down the parents of detained children who have not yet been found since the Trump administration’s family separation policies. The executive action also re-established a Task Force for New Americans to promote integration and inclusivity while protecting fairness of the immigration system as a whole.
Biden’s first 100 days concluded at the end of April, and since coming into office, the new president has faced increased scrutiny as an uptick in child immigrants poses space issues for the administration. As of March 25, a record 5,156 children were in U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody and approximately 11,900 children were in custody of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Biden pledged to accept unaccompanied minors that come to the U.S. seeking refuge, yet his administration is still asking migrants to refrain from coming to the U.S. through press briefings, social media campaigns and radio broadcasts.
As former President Trump’s policies remain to be overturned, Biden is asking migrants for more time to establish a humane and efficient immigration process before they arrive. Still, immigrants continue to make the trek to the U.S. fleeing climate crises, violence and the coronavirus pandemic ravaging their countries of origin.
From the left, the Biden faces criticism over his continuance of Trump-era policies and using Border Patrol holding cells. On the other side of the aisle, Republicans are calling on Biden to deem the situation a “crisis” and claiming that Biden’s policy to accept all migrant children is encouraging immigrants to come, exacerbating the issue.
In an effort to regain control over the issues at the border, Biden tapped Vice President Harris to lead the administration’s immigration strategy. Administration officials have said that Harris’s role will focus on two frames: curbing migration in the immediate future and developing a long-term strategy that attempts to confront the root causes of migration to the U.S.
*Thumbnail image "Joe Biden" by Gage Skidmore is licensed for use under CC BY-SA 2.0.