One of the issues that helped to propel Joe Biden to victory over President Trump was immigration. For many, the visions of seeing children locked in cages and sleeping on concrete floors, while shivering underneath foil blankets was far more than they could handle. While most Americans agree that the United States needs to do something to address immigration, they found Trump's wrecking ball approach to the issue far too much to digest. Biden has promised to reverse many of the immigration policies instituted by his predecessor in an effort to restore America’s reputation as being a compassionate, humane country that lives up to the encryption etched into the statue of Liberty, which reads: “Give me your tired, your poor, your Huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Mass Deportation Under Obama
There is something to keep in mind in regards to any proposals Biden may have in regards to modernizing the immigration system in America. Critics will be quick to remind him that he was vice president during the Obama administration. This could be weaponized and used against Biden as he moves forward with a progressive immigration agenda. Although the Obama administration approached the issue of immigration humanely, and advocated for the passage of laws which would offer asylum seekers pathways to citizenship, the administration was still responsible for the deportation of millions of people, and the expansion of family detention.
The massive levels of deportations that took place during president Obama’s time in office, is something that has not been forgotten by many in the Latin community. This is evidenced by the support Donald Trump received from the latin community in the last election. Mr. Trump’s support among latino voters grew from 28 percent in the 2016 election to 32 percent in the 2020 election. Despite the visible contrast and narratives created around Trump’s no tolerance policy and the documented maltreatment and abuses committed against children and asylum seekers. Trump’s rhetoric regarding the support of the rule of law, and his self proclamation of being the defender of religious freedom during the COVID-19 pandemic, helped him garner support among some blocks of the Latino voting block.
A Promise To Unite
The president-elect has stated that one of his top priorities within his first 100 days as president, is to reunite parents and their children who were separated at the border when Donald Trump's zero tolerance policy was instituted. Making good on this promise would go a long way in re- re-establishing the trust and assurance many in the Latino community would need to fully support family immigration policies proposed by president-elect Biden in the future. Another item that ranks high on Biden’s list of priorities is the Musulin travel ban Trump placed on travelers coming to the United States from 13 mostly African countries. Biden has vowed to overturn this policy on the first day of his presidency. Biden moving forward with his promise to halt the building of Trump's border wall is a move that will also be welcomed by indigenous groups, and environmental advocacy groups. This will most certainly go a long way with landowners in the region who have for a large part, been successful in staving off eminent domain by forcing the Trump administration to prove the government’s need to take their land in court.
Open Doors to Foreign Workers
One of the things that Biden has talked about often on the campaign trail is the importance of opening the nation’s doors to foreign workers. Biden has stated that as president, he would work with congress to ensure that the United States makes the process of obtaining temporary, and keeping valid work visas more flexible. Biden has also stated that he wants to establish safeguards requiring employers to pay their foreign workers a fair wage and guarantee their right to exercise their rights as designated through the Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board. This would give foreign workers the opportunity to join a labor organization if they desired. Obtaining a fair and livable wage for foreign workers in the United States helps ensure the same for all American workers.
Mr Biden has proposed a long list of changes to modernize immigration, and move the country forward, like increasing the number of permanent, employment based visas, creating mechanisms to decrease the number of visas for immigrants temporarily when unemployment reaches high levels in the United States. Biden also plans to establish a new category of visa which would allow municipalities and counties to petition for more immigrant visas to aid in the economic strategy of their region.
In terms of what Mr. Biden will be able to check off of his list will depend on his ability to negotiate with congressional members from across the aisle. Many of the things Biden has vowed to do can be done through executive order, however, policies enacted through executive orders can always be overturned by another administration, and Biden knows it. Biden will have to find a way to make good on his promises in the short term, and work towards a permanent congressional solution simultaneously to protect any gains he makes towards modernizing the immigration system in the United States.
October 16 - 22
US Election 2020: Trump's Impact on Immigration - in Seven Charts
BBC | Ed Lowther | October 22
"The number of foreign-born people living in the US has risen by about 3% from 43.7 million the year before Mr Trump's election to about 45 million last year.
But this rise conceals a big shift in the largest group by far within this population - those who have moved to the US from Mexico. Having remained at nearly the same level for years, the number of people living in the US who were born in Mexico has fallen steadily since Mr Trump's election. While this dip was more than offset by an increase in the number of people who have moved to the US from elsewhere in Latin America and the Caribbean, demographers at the US Census Bureau have estimated that net migration - the number of people moving to the US minus those moving out of the US - has fallen to its lowest level for a decade."
ICE Plans to Target Undocumented Immigrations Who Didn't Voluntarily Leave the US
CNN | Priscilla Alvarez | October 22
"Immigration and Customs Enforcement plans to launch an operation to find and deport undocumented immigrants who failed to voluntarily depart the United States despite previously committing to do so, according to a draft memo obtained by CNN. It's the latest in a string of operations launched by ICE, the enforcement arm of the Department of Homeland Security, in recent months after the agency said it would largely focus enforcement on public safety risks amid the coronavirus pandemic. Senior administration officials on the road to sell Trump's 'law-and-order' campaign message In the run up to November 3, and with early voting already underway, ICE and DHS are amplifying, with speeches and news conferences, a series of operations, particularly in jurisdictions that have adopted policies limiting cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities."
The Day That America Lost $100 Billion Because of an Immigration Visa Ban
Brookings | Dany Bahar, Prithwiraj Choudhury, and Britta Glennon | October 20
"On June 22, 2020, President Trump issued an executive order (EO) restricting the entry of individuals seeking to enter the country on a nonimmigrant work visa. As part of this EO, the President proclaimed, “I have determined that the entry, through December 31, 2020, of certain aliens as immigrants and nonimmigrants would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.” Our ongoing research provides evidence to the contrary and documents that the EO negatively affected the market valuation of the largest U.S. firms. According to estimates, this EO barred the entrance of nearly 200,000 foreign workers and their dependents."
October 2 - 8
Trump Reshaped the US Immigration System - But It's Been Ignored at the Debates
VOX | Nicole Narea | October 8
"Not a single question at the first two debates has addressed one of the policy areas in which President Donald Trump has been most effective at bringing his vision to fruition over his first term: immigration. Instead, the candidates have only mentioned immigration in passing. During Tuesday’s vice presidential debate, Sen. Kamala Harris briefly nodded to Trump’s statements about Mexicans coming over the border on the campaign trail in 2016, in which he called them “rapists” and “criminals.” She also briefly mentioned the travel ban he enacted right after taking office, blocking citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and creating chaos in airports across the US before courts forced him to amend the policy, which still remains in effect."
What It Takes to be a Foreign Student in the U.S. Now
Inquirer | Jath Shao | October 7
"When my grandfather left the Philippines for his master’s studies in 1949, it took over a month to travel from Manila to Michigan. Three weeks on a ship to Hawaii, then another week of sailing to San Francisco, before a long train ride to the Midwest. When my dad came to Chicago in 1977 for his master’s, it was free to apply for visas at the US Embassy on Dewey Boulevard by Ermita, which was the center of Manila then. By 1983, when he returned for his doctorate, it wasn’t free anymore."
Family Separation and the Trump Administration's Immigration Legacy
CNN | Priscilla Alvarez | October 7
"More than two years since migrant families were torn apart at the US-Mexico border, disturbing details of what occurred behind the scenes continue to spill into public view -- again putting into focus the policy that came to define the Trump administration's immigration legacy and cement its approach to immigrants. In 2018, the Trump administration announced the so-called "zero tolerance" policy, in which the Justice Department initiated criminal prosecutions of every adult illegally crossing the border. Doing so resulted in the separation of thousands of families, including those with infants, some only a few months old, because children can't be kept in federal jail with their parents. The public outcry over the policy and its consequences was swift. So too was the case late Tuesday, when The New York Times reported that top Justice Department officials were the "driving force" behind the policy."
September 18 - 24
Immigrants in US Custody Died After 'Inadequate' Medical Care, Congressional Investigation Finds
CNN | Geneva Sands | September 24
"Immigrants in US custody faced widespread failures in medical care, including some issues that resulted in death, according to a new congressional investigation released Thursday. At US Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities operated by for-profit contractors, detainees "often do not receive critical treatment or face delays," the inquiry found. Additionally, the review found that many of the for-profit facilities lack sufficient medical staff and failed to provide necessary care for chronic medical conditions."
How Biden Might Change Trump's Immigration Policies
Bloomberg | Adam M. Taylor and Michael Smallberg | September 24
"Long before the U.S. tightened its borders to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, President Donald Trump set about reshaping America’s immigration system with a nationalist and isolationist bent. Promises to crack down on illegal immigration and erect a wall along the Mexican border formed the centerpiece of his election campaign in 2016. His Democratic challenger in the Nov. 3 election, former Vice President Joe Biden, embraces immigration as fundamental to the national character in a country where 99% of citizens trace their roots to somewhere else."
Even When They Lost Their Jobs, Immigrants Sent Money Home
New York Times | Miriam Jordan | September 24
"Remittances historically have risen and fallen with the fortunes of the economies where immigrants have traveled to work. But after weathering the worst months of the lockdown, many immigrants are back on the job and sending their relatives even more money than before the downturn, according to newly compiled estimates...Jason Go, a Filipino cardiologist in Grand Forks, N.D., said that not only had he continued to transfer money monthly to his 71-year-old mother in the Philippines, he was now sending her even more. “Part of my motivation to come here was to help support my mom who put me through med school,” said Dr. Go, 46, who arrived in the United States 17 years ago."
August 28 - September 3
How Trump Made It That Much Harder to Become a US Citizen
VOX | Nicole Narea | September 3
"Immigrants have applied to become US citizens in increasing numbers since Donald Trump took office, which some policy analysts say is the effect of the president’s anti-immigrant rhetoric. But the path hasn’t been easy. They’re facing ballooning processing times, higher fees, more intensive vetting, and even the possibility of later losing their citizenship at the hands of the Department of Justice’s newly created “denaturalization section,” which it announced in February 2020. US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency that processes applications for immigration benefits, has reopened its offices, but it’s also grappling with a budget crisis amid the coronavirus pandemic and struggling to keep up with the naturalization backlog."
Residents Waiting For Citizenship Are Worried They'll Miss Their Chance to Register to Vote This Year Amid a Backlog of Applications
Business Insider | Sarah Al-Arshani | September 2
"An undisclosed number of citizenship applications are currently backlogged, possibly preventing many residents who are in the final stages of their citizenship from registering to vote in the upcoming November elections, The Washington Post reported. In July, The Arizona Republic reported that more than 300,000 immigrants were at risk of not being able to vote in the presidential election due to delays caused by Trump administration policy changes and the coronavirus pandemic. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services did not say how many applications are backlogged at this point but told The Post there were hundreds of thousands of citizenship applications pending."
U.S. Seeks to Expand Biometric Data It Collects From Immigrants
The Wall Street Journal | Michelle Hackman | September 2
"The Department of Homeland Security said it would propose expanding the types of biometric information that immigrants may need to submit with their applications, possibly including iris scans, voice recordings and DNA samples. The proposal, which DHS said it would release within days, would also allow the government to require that biometric data be submitted with any sort of immigration application, including from U.S. citizens who are sponsoring relatives from abroad to immigrate to the U.S. Currently, immigrants applying for visas, green cards or other immigration benefits that require background checks must submit fingerprints and photographs along with their applications. The proposal would also create an expanded definition of “biometrics,” so that DHS can begin requiring new forms of identification via biological information and other physical characteristics as the technology becomes available."
August 21 - 27
A Nation of Immigrants No More
VOX | Nicole Narea | August 27
"On the campaign trail in August 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump departed from his typical stump speech to give an uncharacteristically detailed address in Phoenix that would define his immigration agenda for the next four years. His thesis was simple: The US immigration system was broken in a way that served “the needs of wealthy donors, political activists, and powerful politicians,” Trump told the crowd. “Let me tell you who it doesn’t serve. It doesn’t serve you, the American people.” He proceeded to describe, in laundry-list fashion, how he would reinvent the immigration system for what he said was the benefit of American citizens, painting an inaccurate portrait of immigrants as violent criminals and low-skilled workers as stealing American jobs and draining taxpayer resources."
Trump Takes Night Off From Anti-Immigrant Talk to Swear in U.S. Citizens
New York Times | Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Michael D. Shear | August 26
"President Trump moved within weeks of taking office to prohibit immigrants from Sudan from entering the United States, citing terrorism threats and including it in his travel ban on some predominantly Muslim countries — restrictions that remain partly in place today. But on Tuesday, when Mr. Trump wanted to portray himself as pro-immigrant, he invited Neimat Abdelazim Awadelseid, a Sudanese woman who had just qualified to become a U.S. citizen, and four others to a White House naturalization ceremony that his re-election campaign featured prominently during the Republican National Convention."
U.S. Immigration Agency Says It Won't Need to Furlough Employees, but Processing Could Slow Ahead of Election
Washington Post | Nick Miroff.| August 26
"The agency that runs the U.S. legal immigration system said Tuesday it will no longer need to furlough 70 percent of its workforce, after warning for months that 13,000 of its employees would be sent home if lawmakers didn’t provide a $1.2 billion emergency bailout. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is funded via the fees it collects from immigrants seeking green cards, citizenship and other benefits, but a drop in revenue as a result of the coronavirus pandemic had left the agency facing a budget shortfall. Several of the agency’s service centers have temporarily closed to the public or scaled down their operations during the outbreak."
August 14 - 20
Key Findings about U.S. Immigrants
Pew Research | Abby Budiman | August 20
"The United States has more immigrants than any other country in the world. Today, more than 40 million people living in the U.S. were born in another country, accounting for about one-fifth of the world’s migrants. The population of immigrants is also very diverse, with just about every country in the world represented among U.S. immigrants."
Immigrant 'Dreamers' in Search of a Job Are Being Turned Away
New York Times | Miriam Jordan | August 20
"Since its introduction by the Obama administration in 2012, DACA has enrolled some 800,000 undocumented immigrants, often called Dreamers, who were brought to the country illegally as children. Many have gone on to graduate from college and build successful lives under the program, which has bipartisan support in Congress. Yet while the courts have accepted DACA’s legality and have blocked the recent attempts to abruptly cancel it, some of the country’s biggest companies are unilaterally refusing to hire Dreamers. Since Mr. Trump stepped up his attacks on the program, the employment roadblocks have become even more prevalent."
Reviving DACA to Reforming DHS: 5 Immigration Issues Biden Could Confront as President
VOX | Nicole Narea | August 19
"If Joe Biden wins in November, advocates who have spent the last four years suing President Donald Trump over his immigration policy are ready to hold the Democratic nominee accountable for his campaign promises. Biden is positioning himself as former President Barack Obama’s natural successor, including on immigration policy. But he has sworn he won’t merely revert to the Obama-era status quo if elected. “I was very proud to serve Barack, but even he acknowledges we can’t go back to what it was,” the former vice president said in June, pledging to send an immigration reform bill to Congress on day one of his presidency."
August 7 - 13
New State Dept. H-1B Visa Guidance Won't Stop Immigration Lawsuits
Forbes | Stuart Anderson | August 13
"The U.S. Department of State issued guidance that provides more ways for H-1B and L-1 visa holders to overcome the Trump administration’s visa ban. While it may help some professionals and companies, the guidance is unlikely to stop the immigration lawsuits filed against the presidential proclamations. The guidance raises troubling issues, attorneys say, as it imposes new H-1B visa requirements without Congress or even a new regulation."
U.S. Immigration Shutdown Imminent As Congress Talks Collapse
Forbes | Andy J. Semotiuk | August 13
"USA Today has reported that since Congress has failed to reach a deal on a COVID-19 stimulus package, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will proceed with its furlough of about 13,400 employees, or about two-thirds of its workforce, on August 30th. The USCIS had hoped the Covid package would serve as a vehicle to approve an emergency bailout to address the agency's budget shortfall but after two weeks of negotiations on the stimulus package, talks in Congress broke down as Democrats and the White House blamed each other for the stalemate. Earlier this month, the USCIS notified about two-thirds of its employees that they would be furloughed starting August 30th because of budget shortfalls, which the agency hoped Congress would fill in its next relief package before negotiations stalled recently."
Trump Immigration Policy Now Blocks World's Most Highly Skilled
Forbes | Stuart Anderson | August 12
"Today, even the most highly skilled individuals in the world cannot enter America under the Trump administration’s immigration policy. Reports from attorneys and a statement from the State Department confirm that U.S. consular officers in Europe are denying O-1 visas for individuals with “extraordinary ability” based on a health pretext. The strict interpretation of Trump presidential proclamations means individuals that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have found to “possesses extraordinary ability” or a “record of extraordinary achievement” are – and will be – refused visas in Europe and cannot come to America."
July 30 - August 6
"Arrests on the US-Mexico Border Continue to Increase
CNN | Geneva Sands | August 6
"Nearly 40,000 people were arrested illegally crossing the US-Mexico border in July, part of a steady increase in the border arrests since April, according to newly released US Customs and Border Protection data. Economic conditions in Mexico are partially to blame, the agency said. The increase comes as the Trump administration continues to swiftly remove migrants as a result of a public health order implemented in late March that allows for the quick expulsion of migrants arrested at the border. "We are not out of the woods yet. In fact, it's likely to become increasingly challenging due to the deteriorating economic conditions in Mexico, Central America and beyond, exacerbated by Covid-19," said Mark Morgan, the senior official performing the duties of the Customs and Border Protection commissioner,"
The Cost of Applying for U.S. Citizenship is Dramatically Increasing
USA Today | Daniel Gonzales (Arizona Republic) | August 5
"It's going to cost more to apply for U.S. citizenship...Starting Oct. 2, legal immigrants eligible to apply for citizenship will pay $1,160 if they submit their application online, or $1,170 if submitting a paper application. Under the new fee, immigrants will pay at least $520 more to apply for citizenship. That is more than 80% higher than the current application fee of $640. It's also the second biggest jump in the naturalization application fee in history, analysts say."
Trump Issues Election-Year Order on H-1B Visas and Federal Contracts
Forbes | Stuart Anderson | August 4
"Experts say it is unclear what a new executive order issued by Donald Trump on federal contracting will accomplish, though it may be followed with additional measures to restrict companies that employ H-1B visa holders. Trump’s efforts to protect a relatively small number of union jobs at a federally owned corporation (the Tennessee Valley Authority) against contracts awarded to private companies may be ironic, analysts note, given the administration’s high spending on government contracts for information technology (IT) services. It also comes as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has threatened to furlough over 13,000 federal employees unless the agency receives a bailout."
July 24 - 30
Trump and Congress Overlook Job-Creating Immigrant Startup Visas
Forbes | Stuart Anderson | July 30
“The Trump administration has not promoted a job-creating visa for immigrant entrepreneurs in Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom, despite touting the immigration systems in those countries. In 2013, the U.S. Senate passed a startup visa included as part of a bill that did not become law, but since then has not advanced similar legislation. New research finds U.S. policymakers can learn from other nations that allow foreign nationals to gain permanent residence by starting a business that creates jobs. The visa can become part of an economic comeback from the coronavirus pandemic.”
Trump’s Immigration Legacy to be Presented in Re-Election Bid
Forbes | Andy J. Semotiuk | July 30
“Five years ago, President Trump declared that if he was elected president he would build a wall along the U.S. Mexico border and make Mexico pay for it. That idea was first developed in the summer of 2014 as a memorable talking point for Trump to tie his real estate developer experience to his anti-immigration policy theme. That theme was part of his isolationist, America First orientation.”
Once an Immigrant Has a Green Card, Here’s What They Have to Do to Become a U.S. Citizen
Miami Herald | Daniel Shoer Roth | July 29
“Becoming a United States citizen provides rights and privileges such as voting, traveling with a U.S. passport, bringing family members permanently to the United States, sponsoring citizenship for children born abroad and obtaining government benefits. Since applications for citizenship are currently taking up to two years, it is important that eligible immigrants submit their petitions as soon as they meet the requirements, immigration advocates say. The process often requires help from an immigration attorney, but some legal permanent residents try to obtain U.S. citizenship through naturalization on their own.”
Lazaro Law Group, Managing Attorney