The 2020 US presidential elections resulted in a change from Republican to Democrat leadership. This caused many changes in policy direction. Immigration is one of the most discussed areas. Here is a quick look at some of the important and immediate changes in this domain.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was introduced by President Obama in June 2012 via an executive order. It came after Congress failed to pass Obama’s Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act in 2010. Though they remain undocumented, DACA beneficiaries are mostly protected from deportation and are permitted to work in the US. They are also eligible for in-state tuition at public institutions, and can travel abroad under a policy referred to as “advance parole”.
In September 2017 the Trump government ordered an end to further DACA applications. The order provoked a legal battle between the government and DACA proponents. In June 2020 the supreme court dismissed the government’s attempt to end the program in a 5:4 ruling. The court held that though the government had the power to scrap DACA, it must give sufficient reason to do so. Despite the court ruling Trump maintained his stance on the program.
Repealing the “Muslim and African ban”
Millions of migrant workers live and work in the US. They regularly send remittances back to their home countries via the Ria Money Transfer App and similar channels. Being able to legally work and travel is imporant. President Trump signed the first version of his “muslim ban” in January 2017 via executive order 13769. He called it, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” The ban targeted citizens of 7, mainly muslim states (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen). According to Trump it was not a “muslim ban” but a ban on “countries that have tremendous terror.” A legal challenge against the ban championed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) ensued.
In March 2017 due to legal pressure Trump introduced another version of the ban. The new version exempted Iraq and all visa and green card holders from the ban. Legal battles against the ban continued till yet another version surfaced in September 2017. This one added North Korea, Chad, and Venezuela, and removed Sudan from the ban. In June 2018 the US Supreme Court ruled 5:4 in favor of this ban. 6 countries were added to the ban in January 2020. Sudan was reincluded. The others were Nigeria, Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, and Tanzania. This time with a high number of African states in the policy, it was branded the “Muslim and African ban” according to TIME.com.
Freeze on deportations
Biden’s order 13993 was announced on his first day in office, and revoked Trump’s order 13768. On the same day the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a memo as part of a review of existing immigration policies (initiated by Trump). The memo announced a 100-day pause on the deportation of certain noncitizens. The DHS secretary said this was to “ensure a fair and effective immigration enforcement system.”
US-Mexico border wall construction halted
The US-Mexico border wall construction order of January 2017 was one of many signed by Trump. The DHS initially estimated that the wall would cost $21.6 billion. Over 645 km of the proposed 725 km wall has been constructed. Rather than continue with the construction, President Biden plans to deploy technology to detect illegal activity around the border areas.
This order was also signed on Biden’s first day as president. It aims to defer the deportation of Liberians and persons without nationality to June 30, 2022. Such persons must be beneficiaries of the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) program. They are free to work in the US till the deferred date.
“Lawful and accurate enumeration”
Biden’s order on this subject reverses Trump’s executive order 13880 and other policies that denied non-citizens participation in the 2020 census. The ACLU, 22 US states led by New York, 15 cities, and some local governments challenged Trump’s plan at the US Supreme Court. In December 2020 the court refused to halt Trump’s plan. The Biden order directs that undocumented immigrants be counted in the 2020 census, both for enumeration purposes and for deciding congressional apportionment.
In summary, a majority of Biden’s early policies are in sync with those of the last Democrat government (in which he served as vice-president). Democrats have a very slim majority in the congress. With legal hurdles and other issues, this will be anything but a smooth ride for the new administration.
About the author:
Hemant G is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC, a Digital and Content Marketing Agency. When he’s not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.