President-elect Joe Biden has promised to undo many of the rapid changes the Trump administration made to the U.S. immigration system, but the Senate may or may not support his work—depending on whether Democrats or Republicans control it. Unfortunately, we may not find out who controls the Senate until 2021, as two run-off Georgia Senate races are slated for January 5th.
Many of the recent immigration restrictions were established via executive order, so Biden can likely reverse them in the same way. However, bigger reforms will require legislative support from Congress. Here are just a few of the issues that Biden may tackle—and how difficult the process may be.
According to Sarah Pierce, a Migration Policy Institute analyst, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is one program that Biden may be able to address relatively quickly. Trump attempted to end DACA but was stopped by the Supreme Court in June. Nevertheless, the Department of Homeland Security reduced DACA renewals from two years to one and stopped accepting first-time requests altogether.
Fortunately, Pierce believes that a simple memo from Biden should be able to restore DACA to its former operations.
The “Remain in Mexico” Policy
The Migrant Protection Protocols, known more commonly as the “remain in Mexico” policy, have forced most Mexican asylum seekers in the last two years to wait in Mexico for their court dates. Like the DACA situation, the elimination of this policy may simply require a memo, but the administration would need to address logistical issues in the process. More specifically, they would need to determine what to do with the thousands of individuals who were sent back to Mexico since the Trump administration issued the policy.
The Border Wall
In 2019, Trump used an emergency declaration to redirect billions of dollars in Department of Defense funds to finance the U.S./Mexico border wall. Biden will be able to end this emergency declaration immediately.
What is less clear is what may happen to:
- Funds that have been transferred but remain unused;
- Current construction contracts; and
- Pending litigation regarding the Trump administration’s use of eminent domain to build the wall over private land.
Regardless, Biden will most likely not need Congress to end the construction of the border wall.
End of Family Separation at the Border
Today, hundreds of children still have not reunited with their parents because of the Trump administration’s family separation policies. Biden has pledged to use an executive order to create a task force that will reunite these families.
A Path to Legal Status for Undocumented Immigrants
Biden has promised to send a bill to Congress that will outline a path to legal status for the nation’s undocumented immigrants and DACA recipients. This bill, according to Biden, will come in his first 100 days. Because the bill must go through Congress, however, Biden will have his work cut out for him if Republicans retain control of the Senate. Additionally, other issues—like the COVID-19 pandemic—may need to take precedence.
Bring Your Concerns to Our Attorneys
At Nathan Christensen P.C., our lawyers are looking to the future with hope. We are fighting alongside immigrants, advocacy groups, and politicians to clear the path to legal status for individuals and families from all around the world. In your journey, you may face tremendous obstacles—but our team is here to provide the counsel, resources, and representation you need.