The Biden Harris Administration kicked off reforming the US immigration system, including sending to Congress legislation that creates a pathway to citizenship for the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US.
President Biden outlined steps to reform the US Immigration System by keeping families together, addressing the root causes of irregular migration, and streamlining the legal immigration system.
Following changes in the US Immigration System, Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) interviewed Sarah Pierce, Policy Analyst for the U.S. Immigration Policy Program at the Migration Policy Institute (MPI).
Pierce believes US President Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump have profound differences regarding US Immigration Policy.
Policy Analyst said, “Trump viewed both illegal and legal immigration as a net negative to the United States as something that was a threat to US public safety and the economy,” while “Biden has taken a very different tact. He is very welcoming to legal immigration and much gentler on unauthorized immigrants where there was a lot of anxiety during the Trump Administration.”
Pierce noted that “unauthorized immigrants will be largely protected from deportation under the Biden Administration.”
“Another big difference between the two presidents is the pace at which change is happening. Under the Trump Administration, immigration policy was the top policy priority and they worked at a un unprecedented pace to accomplish the president’s immigration agenda. Under the Biden Administration, there are a lot of other higher priorities and most notably the pandemic but also climate change and racial injustice. So, the pace of change under the Biden Administration on immigration is going much more slowly than it was under President Trump,” Pierce stated.
Pierce said Biden faces a dare situation at the Southern border as “Trump built not only a physical wall but implemented a bureaucratic wall under the policies that were in place under his Administration.” She noted that for that reason, “it’s nearly impossible to apply for asylum at the Southern border.”
“President Biden is tasked with unwinding the many difficult policies that President Trump put in place at the Southern border, but at the same time, our resources and procedures of the Southern border are very ill-equipped to handle large flows of vulnerable migrants. Biden needs to change and modernize those resources and then at the same time, he also needs to prevent a surge at the Southern border before our resources and processes are prepared to handle that. The rumours of caravans or increase migrants coming to the Southern border are really difficult problems for President Biden because our border is not prepared,” Pierce noted.
Even though Biden announced to send a US Immigration System reform bill to Congress, Pierce thinks “it’s really difficult to get Congress to do anything on immigration. This is just a proposal. He hasn’t even sent the actual text of the bill to Congress.”
“It’s been more than three decades since the US Congress has passed any bills on immigration other than immigration enforcement. They haven’t passed anything to change legal flows into the United States or to legalize the millions of unauthorized immigrants. I don’t think that there is a lot of optimism that Congress will take this up, but a lot of us are hopeful because it is far past time to legalize the unauthorized immigrants in the United States,” she added.