Now that Joe Biden is the presumptive winner of the 2020 presidential election it is time to start asking how will immigrants fare under his administration? The first thing we should recognize is that Kamala Harris will be the Vice-president. She is a woman of color and comes from a family of immigrants. However, at this point it is remains unknown how much influence she will have over immigration policy. Biden must appoint her to address certain national policies. Will he appoint her to address the immigration issue remains unknown.
The first and most important issue for immigrants is the hatemongering of immigrants that Donald Trump unleashed. Under the Biden presidency, it is likely that the hatemongering will be tampered down because Biden is unlikely to encourage it and may discourage it from the national dialog. Joe Biden will contain the hate of immigrants at the national level.
The Steven Miller agenda is also dead. Even though Trump may try to push forth more draconian immigration policies his ability to do so will be hampered by his election loss.
Covid-19 And The Economy
The first thing facing the Joe Biden presidency is the Covid-19 health crisis and the resulting economic downturn caused by it. This crisis will likely consume the Biden presidency well into 2021. Whether the Democrats take control of the Senate or not does not make a difference for immigrants. This is because meaningful immigration policy will require buy-in from Congress. Not only is the Covid-19 crisis and the economy distracting to Congress, but immigration policies are difficult for Congress to address even when one party control the Congress.
The reasons for this lie in that immigration is a very divisive issue in America.
The closeness of the 2020 presidential election demonstrates this although political pundits argue whether the division is about economic policy or party ideology, the division across America is also a division over the changing face of America because of immigrants.
Congress simply does not have the will to address immigration.
The Dreamers (DACA) will likely get relief from Joe Biden within the first few months. The reason is because it can be addressed by an Executive Order. In addition, the courts have supported the DACA order. More important is that it allows Biden to deliver a promise made by him and Kamala Harris on the campaign trail without having to go through Congress or distract from Covid-19 and the economy.
The Biden DACA solution is unlikely to be permanent, but it allows the Dreamers a measure of relief and allows Biden to push the issue of immigration down the road, while claiming victory for one of his promises.
Immigration And Customs Enforcement
Joe Biden is likely to reign in ICE without disbanding them. It will likely be more of a policy change than any meaningful reform, at least in 2021. Biden will likely refocus immigration enforcement away from the interior of the country towards the borders.
The imagery of caged children remains powerful and while the Biden presidency will keep a public posture of not allowing it, Joe Biden cannot afford an asylum crisis on the border so for the time being the Boden presidency will keep pressure on México to control its southern border.
The Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) did himself no favors with Biden by delaying his recognition of Biden. AMLO has put himself deeper into the role of enforcing U.S. immigration policy on the Mexican southern border.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s own data, only 371 of the Trump wall has been completed to date. It is very unlikely that much more will be completed by the time Trump leaves office on January 20. México did not pay for the wall.
Joe Biden will likely stop building the wall but is unlikely to dismantle any of the 371 miles of the wall constructed by the Trump administration.
The Future Of Immigration Reform
Although immigration reform is on the agenda it will not be addressed until the Covid-19 emergency is dealt with and the American economy is stabilized. It is likely that by the time those two issues are addressed another round of national elections for control for Congress will be on the horizon. Because of the divisiveness of immigration policies and the tribal party politics for control of Congress, the issue of immigration will again be put on the backburner.
Additionally, the Latino vote for Donald Trump in 2020 will play heavily on the will of the Democrats for them to risk supporting immigration reform.
Because of these issues, it is unlikely that any meaningful immigration policy shift in America will happen before Biden’s last two years of his first term.