On immigration, President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden have polar opposite goals, with the former barreling toward more restrictions and more security infrastructure at the border. Biden, at least recently, claims he will look to make changes for past errors.
President Trump promises to continue to build a wall with Mexico; while Biden said he would immediately halt construction but not knock down the existing wall.
On the verge of the election, voters will be choosing between the extreme immigration policies of the Trump administration, which has implemented stringent immigration policies for legal and illegal migration since he took office in 2016, and former Vice President Joe Biden, who was part of an administration that deported the most people during its time in office and oversaw the construction of hundreds of miles of border wall along the U.S.-Mexico.
Trump has continued his attack on migration to the country, beginning with the Muslim ban shortly after taking office in 2016, the attempt to get rid of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which had been in place to protect hundreds of thousands of people who were brought to the country as children, and the family separations mandate that is responsible for the current 500-plus children who are to this day not reunited with their families.
The latter policy, which has now been confirmed to have been used as a deterrent by then-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to stop families from Mexico, and Central America from making the journey to the country, still continues to this day in some form, as some parents and children are still being separated as reported by national civil liberties organizations.
The policy to refer people who enter the country without legal authorization for conviction, although in place for decades, was unique in that under directive from then U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, U.S. Border Patrol agents were directed to refer everyone for criminal prosecution, a policy known as “zero tolerance,” that subsequently resulted in family separations.
Under Obama, unaccompanied children — minors who were with someone other than their parents when they were detained at the border — were placed in U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities and then with the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
After the practice was deemed unconstitutional, Trump ended the policy of separating families. That in turn has resulted in issues with long-term detention of families, which is also currently being worked out at the federal court level.
Biden, for his part, has publicly denounced his administration’s approach on deportations and promised to sign an executive order if elected that would form a group to locate the missing 545 children that were separated as a result of the 2018 separations under the Trump administration.
With regard to DACA, in July the Supreme Court shot down Trump’s attempt to end the Obama-era program that protected hundreds of thousands who were brought here as children and had qualified for the legal protection.
Despite the court’s ruling, the administration has refused to accept new applications, leading to more lawsuits which are currently tied up in federal court.
Biden has said he would provide a pathway to citizenship for those in the program if elected.
In sharp contrast to the current administration’s stance on legal migration and asylum-seekers, which is to severely limit who can enter the country, Biden said he would restore what has been undone under Trump and uphold the legal right to asylum. This is an issue that came to light during the influx of Central American families at the U.S.-Mexico border seeking asylum.
Trump campaigned promising to build a “great wall” with Mexico, and despite opposition, has succeeded in part.
Though there are still hundreds of miles along the U.S.-Mexico border that has zero to no barriers, Trump has been able to reconstruct “new” barriers and wall structures in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
On Thursday, acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf was in the Rio Grande Valley to tout the completion of what they say to be 400 miles of new wall along the border.
Though significant, the Trump administration has fallen short of living up to the promise of his campaign, during which he said that Mexico would pay for a huge wall that stretched across the border of both nations.
Multiple lawsuits, filed in 2019 and 2020 argue that the president violated the U.S. Constitution by overstepping his executive authority and sidestepping Congress to fund a portion of wall construction along the southern border when he moved Department of Defense funds to fulfill the promise.
Despite continued litigation that is delaying the building of the wall in parts, Trump has remained resolute that tall barriers and more money for Border Patrol agents and resources will fortify the border.
Biden, who voted as a senator for the Secure Fence Act that began wall construction along the U.S-Mexico border in the mid-2000s, and was vice president during the construction of hundreds of miles of infrastructure, said in August that he would stop border wall construction immediately if elected president.
Biden added he would not tear down any current walls or any additions the Trump administration has built. He said he would focus on a “virtual wall” approach, using technology as a deterrent along the border.
In addition to technology, Biden said his plan for border security would put a bigger focus on ports of entry, where a majority of the narcotics are smuggled through.
Though the divide in how they approach immigration policy may be clear, what immigration policy will look like and how it will impact the country for years to come remains unclear.