What Now For US Immigration Policy Under Biden? - Steven Woolfe Skip to main content

During his term as President, Donald Trump sought to dismantle the open border, immigrationist policies of his predecessors, Presidents Obama and Bush, with a wide ranging, aggressive and successful restructuring of the US border and immigration system. 

The headlines writers focussed on his claim to build a wall across Mexico, travel bans on people from designated countries in the Middle East, negotiations with Central and South American countries and the closing of the borders to control the migrant trains.  However, more effectively, in his 5 years he managed to implement over 400 regulatory actions through executive orders and personnel changes. They covered the key areas of border control and security, asylum and refugee settlement, internal monitoring of security and immigrants, the courts and especially the immigration courts, visa application and the controversial, highly political, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival or DACA. 


Now that President Biden is in power he has already shown that there is every desire and intent to remove anything that President Trump implemented. On day one of his presidency he issued six executive orders reversing many of President Trumps actions. These included cutting funding of the border wall program, strengthening the Obama DACA program by immediately allowing new applicants; ending the travel ban on many countries citizens entering US, removing orders to deport undocumented immigrants, ending deportation of Liberian immigrants and allowing undocumented immigrants to be counted in the next US census. 

There are many issues that President Biden will need to promote to satisfy his supporters and, certainly his array of executive orders have already shown a list of  those backers top priorities. Despite that immigration will be front and centre throughput the Presidency. This was due to his his reliance of the immigrant supporters groups like the Coalition of human immigrants of LA and New York, the trans Lans Coalition and of course the politically motivated Black Lives Matter movement to get out the vote and his choice of Kamala Harris as Vice-President to be primed as President after he leaves office.  

Another major factor is that the Democratic Party, like most left wing parties in Europe, have dropped their traditional working class supporter base and transitioned to base of left wing intellectuals and university students, LGBT and entertainment sector, immigrants and large corporations that benefit from the supply. The vote was to elect was close, too close for many Democrats so in order to ensure that this doesn’t happen in the future a key is to add as many votes for Democrats they can. This is the main political reason behind giving 11 million illegal immigrants citizenship.

To reinforce this message that the Democratic Party are the party of the immigrants Biden’s senior appointments are to give great optics. His choice of Harris as VP was a clear signal that a women and children of naturalised immigrants families can reach the top roles in America.  To further bolster the PR battle the appointments of Alejandro Mayorkas, as the first immigrant born head of Homeland Security, also send out a clear message to those illegal immigrants the Democratic Party are keen to naturalise and grab as voters

Mayorkas held the significant position as the first Cuban born citizen to hold the role of head of US Citizenship and Immigration Services under President Obama from 2009 to 2013. There he shielded illegal immigrants from deportation. It is no surprise that this policy view was immediately reenacted when Acting Attorney General , Monty Wilkinson, stopped the return to Mexico policy and the Biden Executive Order on deportations began.  

As President, Biden will not have it all his own way. In Texas a District Judge issued a temporary restraining order barring the US Federal Government from enforcing the 100 day deportation moratorium. This portends the to and fro battle that emerged during President Trumps years with pro-immigration groups and states challenging Trump in the courts and now the Republican states will do the same. The difference this time, and why Biden will effectively remove all the immigration and border policy changes of his predecessor is that he holds both the Congress and Senate. 

America’s immigration will significantly depart from Trump and the world knows it. Immediately upon the announcement of the deportation amnesty a 7000 people caravan set out from Honduras towards the US. Over the next five years you can expects at least 1 million to do the same. During President Obama years 118,000 refugees a year entered the US. President Biden has said he wants 125,000 a year. It is clear that with DACA and undocumented migrants, a renewal of the South American caravans the US population will grow significantly, it will become more a Spanish speaking nation akin to South America than it European Origins and the Republicans will have a huge battle to win seats in Congress, the Senate and Presidency for some time to come.

This article was first published in the Centre for Migration & Economic Prosperity in February 2021


Steven Woolfe

Political Commentator, Writer, Presenter & Campaigner for Liberty, Democracy and Freedom. Championed Brexit & an Independent Britain, Former Member of the EU Parliament for North West England.

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