Immediately after being sworn into office, President Joe Biden made good on the first of dozens of promises he made to immigrant communities on the campaign trail — bursting with repeal. some of the Trump administration’s most aggressive anti-immigration policies and the introduction of a broad legislative package that will create a path to citizenship for eight million people living in the United States.
On that day, Biden argued that his immigrant advocates were exceeding their highest expectations.
“President Biden delivered on day one,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of Lutheran Refugee and Immigration Services. “It’s a strong signal that this is a new and different administration.”
It took another six days for the first of those promises to be broken.
The decision to maintain the Department of Homeland Security Extensive contracts with private prison companiesthe key campaign promise breaking to end this activism, is now seen by supporters as the first sign that Biden records on immigration matters variety at best — and worst at worst continuation of policies they had just spent four years fighting.
“It’s very symbolic – it’s very revealing,” said Fernando Garcia, Director of the Borders Network for Human Rights in El Paso, Texas. “The fact that they didn’t include it gives us an indication that these announcements are good faith announcements, but in reality, things have not changed.”
In fact, Garcia continued, “there doesn’t seem to be a difference between Democrats and Republicans.”
A year into his first term, civil rights leaders, immigration attorneys, legal advocacy groups and grassroots groups are increasingly frustrated with what they see as the administration. turn back about the many commitments Biden made to them prior to his election.
“A year after President Biden’s term in office, immigrant communities are still suffering from the harmful policies of the Trump administration that Biden claims to have,” said Karen Tumlin, founder and director of the Center for Justice Action. campaign is coming to an end”. From continued enforcement of the Title 42 order that blocks asylum seekers in the name of public health to the expansion of the Migrant Protection Protocols and the mistreatment of Haitian migrants at the southern border, Tumlin “We don’t know President Biden’s stance on immigration even,” said Mr. “
But one lesson immigrant rights advocates have learned during the Trump administration is how vast and powerful the executive branch’s power over immigration really is. Juliana Macedo do Nascimento, senior campaigning director for United We Dream, told The Daily Beast Biden’s refusal to exercise those powers based on a range of policies, shows a lack of political will almost like treachery.
“A year ago, we were all hopeful for the future of US asylum policies for families and others seeking safety at our border. Today, we feel deeply disappointed.”
– Katharina Obser, Migrant Rights and Justice program director at the Women’s Refugee Council
“This administration is afraid of being challenged in court, afraid of any Republican backlash at the border, and so they are afraid to take big steps to protect immigrants because they don’t want the right to do so. My strength was challenged,” said Nascimento. “But if they don’t flex their powers, what’s the use?”
Meanwhile, supporters of former President Donald Trump’s draconian immigration policies watched with glee as Biden failed to dismantle much of the vast anti-immigration apparatus Trump had built — and in some cases, even extended. Trump era senior White House policy adviser Stephen Millerwhom longtime associates widely describe as having a heart an extremely true troll on the internethas expressed some smirking satisfaction over the past year at how the architecture of his immigration policy has suffered and how lax the Biden administration has been in disrupting it, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
“I definitely heard him tell some jokes about it,” one of these people recalls.
Of the more than a dozen immigrant rights advocates who spoke to The Daily Beast, each said the president’s first-year record on immigration issues shows a series of huge strides forward. forward and the infuriating slide back.
Jorge Loweree, policy director at the Council of American Immigration, said: “They hit a number of notable victories and accomplishments in key areas early on, noting the immediate revocation. immediately the so-called “Muselim ban” by executive order and diversion. of federal funds were diverted to fund Trump’s border wall.
“But it got complicated very quickly after that,” Loweree said.
Some frustration from the president’s supporters is normal in the first year of any administration, when lofty and ambitious campaign pledges come into conflict with operating mechanism. Because the Democratic majority in the House and Senate are so thin, many of the president’s promises on immigration will always be a tall order — especially the U.S. Citizenship Extension Act of 2021, which was dropped by Congress. past one year from the date it was issued. formerly.
Biden’s immigration policies started with a bang, from the resolution of the ban on immigrants from Muslim-majority countries and the enactment of the American Citizenship Act to the beginning of the the process of reuniting separated families under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. According to the Migration Policy Institute, the Biden administration has taken 296 immigration enforcement actions, compared with 86 executive action by the Trump administration during the same period.
Those actions have led to concrete improvements in the immigration system, said Jessica Bolter of the Center for Migration Policy.
“Much of the oxygen in the public perception of the Biden administration’s immigration record has been impacted by challenges at the border and stalled Congress’ efforts to address the issue,” Bolter told The Daily Beast. legalize illegal immigrants to the United States. “But the Biden administration has made major changes, especially in how immigration enforcement is conducted within the United States and expanded legal protections to vulnerable populations. ”
The changes in enforcement guidelines have cut the average number of monthly detentions held by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in half; more than 420,000 people were eligible for Temporary Protected Status following the expansion of the program. In the first five months of 2021, the average monthly approval rate for asylum claims in immigration courts has increased from a meager 30% to almost half.
“Two things are true here: one, the Biden administration is making a lot of really important changes and improvements,” noted Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum. “And two, the most dire immigration precedent set by Trump has been the most frustrating to reverse.”
But continue to enforce Title 42contract renewals for private detention centers and Expanding Migrant Protection Protocols which included citizens of every country in the Western Hemisphere—it was initially limited to Spanish speakers—bewildered supporters. After all, the most bitter lesson learned in the Trump administration is how vast is the power of the executive branch over immigration. Katharina Obser, director of the Migration Rights and Justice program at the Women’s Refugee Council, said Biden’s refusal to enforce them under a range of policies, showing a lack of political will as a betrayal betray.
“A year ago, we were all hopeful about the future of US asylum policies for families and others seeking safety at our border,” Mr. Obser said. . “Today, we feel deeply disappointed.”
A White House spokesman dismissed the notion that Biden failed to deliver on key immigration-related promises, telling The Daily Beast that the administration has been making those promises come true “from Day One.” first”.
“Protecting DACA Recipients, Ending Muslim Bans and Public Fee Laws, Reuniting the Family Reunification Task Force, Restarting the Central American Juvenile Program that the previous Administration ended , expanding or new granting Temporary Protected Status to certain countries, and working with DHS to provide clear guidance for internal enforcement, among others,” the spokesperson listed list. “The President has made it clear that restoring order, fairness, and humanity to our immigration system are the priorities of this administration.”
“Our immigration system is outdated and in dire need of reform,” the spokesman allowed. “But this administration is committed to working day in and day out to bail out immigrants and bring our immigration system into the 21st century.”
Feelings of gloom among activists and policy advocates who have pushed the Biden administration over the past 12 months to undo Trump’s legacy of belligerent nanoism, has been fueled in part by The gap is not clear between Biden’s promises and the results to date.
Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration policy analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute, has shared his fair share of policy disagreements with Biden and progressives over the years. On US immigration, however, Nowrasteh believes Biden’s platform in 2020 is “the most pro-immigration platform of any presidential candidate since Abraham Lincoln,” the analyst said. Cato said Wednesday, a day before the one-year anniversary of Biden’s inauguration.
But that, of course, is Candidate Biden, not President Biden.
“Now, we are extremely disappointed with his record so far in trying to achieve the goals he has set. I wouldn’t call it a total failure, but he performed very well below our expectations,” Nowrasteh added. “My Cato colleagues and I have been in contact with Biden administration officials, and we discussed our concerns about current immigration policy and efforts to move in the direction the administration wants to go. . But government policy moves slowly, and these are still being worked on. ”
One of the reasons Nowrasteh thinks the sitting president is having a hard time unraveling his predecessor’s policies is that Biden doesn’t have Stephen Miller of his own, like Trump did beside him.
“Miller, arguably the most efficient single administration of the last 50-60 years in the United States. He even exceeded Trump’s promises to limit legal immigration,” Nowrasteh said. “But now, there is no Stephen Miller pro-immigrant. There’s no one on the phone 50 times a day yelling at officials asking them to act together.”
For his part, Miller, who did not respond to a request for comment for this story, has made frequent appearances in Fox News and conservative media since Mr. Biden took office, opposing the immigration policy. Democratic presidential residence and southern border. He has gone so far as to denounce some of these policies as “unsolvable offenses,” and warn of Trump’s agenda reversal.
Nowrasteh continued: “Everybody I talk to on the board of directors is committed to doing the right thing and is trying to do the right thing. “But I don’t know if any of them can [their own] Stephen Miller’s version. And I just don’t see it right now. ”
Supporters do not see the situation getting better any time soon. With a 1.5 million backlog in the immigration court system and direct evidence that Congress will play no role in passing immigration reform, it’s hard to figure out how to do it, Garcia said. Biden fulfills promises he hasn’t kept.
“A year into the presidency, we still have the policies implemented by Trump on the board unchanged,” Garcia said. “They have fallen short of their promises, but I would also question how seriously they really take immigration as a priority.”