Biden’s Immigration Overhaul Takes Time


President Biden is receiving criticism from all sides regarding his action towards immigration policy. (Courtesy of Twitter)

President Biden is receiving criticism from all sides regarding his action on immigration policy. Biden is tearing former President Trump’s immigration protocols apart at the seams in order to prevent further damage, but no one seems content with his approach to the situation. Although there is no single way to appease every American and immigrant, many individuals seem to forget that Biden is making change, albeit slowly.

Many Democrats are blaming Biden for his inability to follow through with his promises and are upset at the rate of change. However, Biden is not solely to blame for the current state of immigration — there is considerable damage left over from the Trump administration. Instead of attempting to salvage the scraps, President Biden should start from scratch. This method takes time, though; he cannot simply rewrite the policy overnight. 

The most pressing issue currently regards housing immigrants. Building capacities are currently at 90% and do not offer enough distance between beds. President Biden is currently attempting to ensure that unaccompanied minors will have residence. In order to do so, President Biden has reinstated Trump’s Title 42 emergency declaration, which prohibits immigration due to the pandemic. Many people have spoken out against the reinstatement of Title 42 because it denies immigrants access to America. At the moment, all immigrants are being turned away with the exception of unaccompanied minors. Biden claimed that he hoped Title 42 would give him time to find adequate housing for current immigrants while observing COVID-19 protocols. In reality, it seems as though Biden is more interested in a high rate of turnover. 

It is unlikely that Biden will find time during the pause to attempt deconstructing Trump’s policies. At the moment, Biden is focusing solely on unaccompanied minors, not on what will happen once Title 42 is repealed and more immigrants cross the border.

Although the bulk of criticism that Biden has received has been for using tactics similar to those of his predecessor, I believe there are some key differences between the two presidents’ methods. Unlike Trump’s containment policies, Biden has chosen to safeguard unaccompanied minors instead of turning them away. The trouble is that there is not enough space to safely house every stand-alone minor before they get housed by a sponsor. In order to see progress, more facilities must open. 

At first glance, Biden seems to be following in Trump’s footsteps. However, upon further research it’s clear that Biden is attempting to take what Trump has done and use it in a more positive light to protect immigrants from the dangers of COVID-19. Where Trump led with contempt for immigrants, Biden presents a more humane approach. 

However, it’s obvious that Biden is not tearing apart Trump’s immigration policy like he promised he would. Biden has no idea how to manage immigration policy and has not been honest with the general public. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, and right now Biden needs to ask for help.

President Biden is looking at the past rather than the future. The current situation can hold out, but it will not suffice as a long-term solution. Instead, Biden should repurpose Trump’s previous detainment facilities with new protocols and designate new living quarters in order to decrease the burden at other facilities.

Many Democrats voted for Biden on the basis of settling — vote blue no matter who — but none are prepared to settle for his lack of follow through. The way Biden is currently managing immigration reform is sloppy and exposes his lack of foresight. Biden is listening to criticism more than he should and it is taking a toll on his progress. He seems to only be focused on progress that is visible rather than creating a multifaceted plan behind closed doors. Instead of carelessly taking the reins, President Biden must take a step back and analyze the long-term effects. He must make a system that will bear the burden of a resurgence of COVID-19 and an increasing number of immigrants. Focusing on relocation of unaccompanied minors speaks of Biden’s concern only for American approval. President Biden must clearly express his intentions to the American public and follow through by creating an entirely new immigration policy.

Elizabeth Hoffman, GSB ’23, is an information systems major from Basking Ridge, N.J.