Written by OEP's Migrant Justice Organizer, Jessia Avila
At this juncture of the presidential transition, it is critical to strengthen values of belonging, human concern, and empathy as we seek to overcome hate, xenophobia, and division within our country. It is both a time of hope and critical reflection, one that requires our collective and collaborative efforts to hold Congressional leaders and the Biden Administration accountable for a humane immigration system.
This requires an understanding of President-elect Biden’s promises and priorities for immigration in the U.S. They are as follows:
- Terminate the travel bans against 13 countries, which has denied U.S. entry to individuals from countries with substantial Muslim populations (Aguilera 2020).
- Protect over half a million Dreamers from deportation and secure Dreamers’ access to federal student aid (Aguilera 2020).
- Provide approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants who currently reside in the U.S. with an opportunity to acquire citizenship (Meissner and Mittelstadt 2020, 2).
- Implement a 100-day moratorium on deportations (Ordoñez 2020).
- End family separation and appoint a task force to locate the parents of 545 children who have yet to be reunited following the Trump Administration’s zero-tolerance policy (Meissner and Mittelstadt 2020, 2, 3).
- Terminate long-term immigration detention (Meissner and Mittelstadt 2020, 6).
- Halt border wall construction and revoke the national emergency declaration (Aguilera 2020).
- Raise the refugee resettlement cap to 125,000 people (Meissner and Mittelstadt 2020, 5).
- End the Migrant Protection Protocols (also known as “Remain in Mexico”), which have forced over 67,000 asylum seekers to survive in deplorable conditions and face dangerous threats to their safety in Mexico as they wait for their U.S. asylum hearings (Aguilera 2020).
- End the Asylum Cooperative Agreements with Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, which allow the U.S. to deny asylum seekers protection and transfer them, without considering their country of origin, to the Northern Triangle countries to submit their asylum claims (International Rescue Committee 2020).
To ensure that these initiatives are implemented, it is imperative that we contact the White House and our Congressional leaders by calling, emailing, and/or writing letters. We can further deconstruct cruel policies and advance the rights of immigrants and asylum seekers by urging President-elect Biden to pursue the following action:
- Lead efforts to conclude partnerships with for-profit companies that operate ICE facilities and close private prisons (Aguilera 2020).
- Enforce accountability for human rights violations that are perpetuated by an abusive, profit-oriented system of ICE detention centers (Meissner and Mittelstadt 2020, 6).
- Terminate the Trump Administration’s “metering policy,” which restricts the maximum daily number of asylum seekers who can submit a claim at official points of entry along the U.S./Mexico border (Aguilera 2020).
- Terminate the Department of Homeland Security’s “expulsion” policy, which has capitalized on the global pandemic to immediately remove over 197,000 individuals who entered the U.S. since March without adhering to due process (Aguilera 2020).
- Secure further protections for people with TPS and DACA (Ordoñez 2020).
- Cease detention for asylum seekers (Ordoñez 2020).
- Reinstate the ability for those fearing domestic abuse, gang violence, and persecution based on gender identity or sexual orientation to seek asylum and gain recognition as refugees (Frelick 2020).
Together, we have an opportunity to act as catalysts for change and improve our world. As a community with an unwavering commitment to justice and peace, we cannot ignore the plight of vulnerable individuals. Let us embody compassion, hope, and respect for human dignity by using the power within our hearts and voices. We invite you to help us cultivate a welcoming and supportive Learning Action Community on our OEP-Migrant Justice Facebook page and in your own faith community.
Aguilera, Jasmine. 2020. “Biden Has Promised to Undo Trump’s Immigration Policies. How
Much Is He Really Likely to Reform?” Time, November 20.
Frelick, Bill. 2020. “The Trump Administration’s Final Insult and Injury to Refugees: New Rule
Creates Barriers to Asylum in the US.” Human Rights Watch, December 11.
International Rescue Committee. 2020. “How the Trump Administration is eliminating asylum in
the U.S.” International Rescue Committee, February 4.
Meissner, Doris, and Michelle Mittelstadt. 2020. At the Starting Gate: The Incoming Biden
Administration’s Immigration Plans. Washington, DC: The Migration Policy Institute.
Ordoñez, Franco. 2020. “On Immigration, Activists’ Demands May Exceed Biden Realities.”
NPR, December 13.
Lennihan, Mark. 2020. “Demonstrators with the New York Immigration Coalition rally asking
President-elect Joe Biden to prioritize immigration reform, Monday.” AP Photo, November 9. https://apnews.com/article/joe-biden-donald-trump-virus-outbreak-immigration-2c47c4e0f429476e991a1aff67cbb90b/gallery/1a2689c4de9c437d8af50e34dd2217b3