Originally Published in NPR
John Burnett - September 14, 2020
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is pledging to dismantle the sweeping changes President Trump has made to the American immigration system, if he wins the White House in November.
But that's easier said than done.
"I don't think it's realistic that Biden in four years could unroll everything that Trump did," says Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, D.C.
"Because of the intense volume and pace of changes the Trump administration enacted while in office, even if we have a new administration, Trump will continue to have had an impact on immigration for years to come," Pierce says.
The Trump administration has undertaken more than 400 executive actions on immigration, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Those include tougher border and interior enforcement, restricting asylum, rolling back Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), slashing refugee visas, streamlining immigration courts and creating Remain in Mexico.
"What the administration has sought to do is to simply turn off immigration and to do it unilaterally by presidential edict, without the approval of Congress or the consent of the American people," says Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project. "That project should be reversed."
That's exactly what Biden pledges to do. His position paper on immigration — 51 bullet points that fill 22 pages — seeks to roll back Trump's accomplishments and reenact Obama-era policies.
The former vice president has an exhaustive to-do list. Within his first 100 days, Biden says he would implement a wide range of policies: not another mile of border wall, no more separating families, no more prolonged detentions or deportations of peaceable, hardworking migrants.
Biden also says he would restore the asylum system and support alternatives to immigrant detention, such as case management, that allow an applicant to live and work in the community while their case works its way through the hearing process. Trump has derisively called this "catch and release."
And Biden would fully reinstate DACA, which allows migrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children to live and work without fear of deportation.