Biden Must Overcome Challenges to End Trump’s Immigration Reforms


Biden’s administration will likely face difficulties overturning Trump’s immigration policies. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Arguably, one of the biggest deciding factors of a president’s success is their immigration policy, which greatly impacts the country’s demographics, socioeconomic status and general welfare. Immigration policy is a difficult thing to face on its own, and when badly tampered with, it can become even more complicated. In recent years, President Trump did just that, with a multitude of reforms to the immigration system. Unfortunately, President-elect Biden will be faced with quite a challenge in untangling and rescinding much of what was implemented by the previous administration. 

Throughout his campaign, Trump has said that he will make Mexico pay for a border wall at our southern border. However, the American taxpayer has been funding the multi-billion dollar project, and to add to that mess, Trump has proposed to make the wall even higher. 

Biden has said he will not tear down the border wall but has pledged to divert the funds needed to build it, thus stopping construction. 

The Trump administration had implemented the program “Remain in Mexico,” where asylum-seekers must wait in Mexico until their case is processed in U.S. courts. Trump has also tried to restrict the number of people applying for asylum by implementing exclusive criteria for those seeking asylum, restricting those who were victims of gang violence, domestic abuse and hate crimes. Additionally, the attorney general at the time, Jeff Sessions, issued a 31-page memo in which he deemed these types of crimes to be “private” and not those initiated or promulgated by a repressive foreign government. 

It will take a lot for Biden to amend and restore the asylum system with all of the litigation requirements and the prolonged process of approval. Biden would also have to remit the restriction of the number of asylum seekers at the border by sending U.S. Customs and Border Protection a memo addressing these issues. 

Right at the beginning of his presidency, Donald Trump signed an executive order putting into effect a travel ban which barred Muslims from entering the U.S. Trump later signed additional travel bans targeting communist countries such as Venezuela and North Korea, which still remain in effect today because of their approval by the Supreme Court. 

Along with travel bans targeting certain countries and groups of people, Trump has also been responsible for major cuts to the refugee program which brought in people fleeing war-torn countries, specifically in Middle Eastern countries such as Syria. Luckily, Biden can rescind these reforms by signing executive orders; however, it will not reverse all of the damage done to these programs and the people affected by them. 

Biden has promised that he will reinstate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which will give protection and citizenship to those who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children. Many of the “Dreamers” who meet these criteria believe that their dreams of living in the U.S. legally will come to fruition under the Biden administration. Along with that, Biden vowed to reunite children who have been separated from their parents at the border. 

Most of Trump’s immigration policies were racially targeted, as his main goal was to halt immigration from non-white countries such as those from the Middle East and Central America through refugee and asylum reforms. Unlike Trump, Biden has promised to vest himself in the restoration of the immigration system by overhauling what Trump has put into action. This will be quite difficult and will require much more than executive orders. It will require a protracted amount of time with all of the litigation troubles and the pushback which his plans will receive. 

In spite of all of the havoc that Trump has wreaked on the immigration system, one thing is certain: He made a strong effort to keep his campaign promises throughout his term as president. All we can hope for is that Biden will do the same.

Mary Cacevic, FCRH ’23, is an international political economy major from Nyack, N.Y.