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Biden’s actions over the last three months are without any “sweeping” reform. Photo: DREW ANGERER/GETTY
Biden’s actions over the last three months are without any “sweeping” reform. Photo: DREW ANGERER/GETTY

Biden’s first 100 days: Where he delivered (and failed) on immigration and Latinos

Where’s the pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the country? Where are the parents of separated children that the Trump administration lost?

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Back in August 2020, then-presidential candidate Joe Biden published a plan for the nation’s Latinx community. Though a move in pursuit of the second-largest voting demographic, the “Biden Agenda for the Latino Community” made many promises pertaining to Latinx communities prospering in the United States, and the linked issue of immigration. 

Now, 100 days since he took office, what does he have to show to support his agenda? Alternatively, what moves has he made since he made big immigration promises leading up to his inauguration?

Immigration
 
Biden began his time in the White House with a barrage of executive orders intent on reversing Trump-era policy, and largely focused on immigration. 

He created a task force to reunite migrant children separated from their families, and that the government has lost. To this day, there is little word on whether the task force has made significant progress in this mission. 

Biden also indicated he wanted to work to rebuild the asylum system and restore opportunities for foreign workers and students to enter the country. His promises, even in January, were criticized as being nothing but a return to the pre-Trump era.

This is why for months, immigration advocates and leaders, as well as progressive legislators, pushed for real reform. While commending Biden’s executive actions taken in the first days of his presidency, there hasn’t been much beyond it.

The promises and rollbacks

Over the course of the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden promised to restore U.S. asylum laws. He halted border wall construction (though it continues to be built in select stretches of the border) and ended some Trump-era policies like broad restrictions on green cards.

While he did restore Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), he also promised to increase the refugee admissions cap from Trump’s historically low cap of 15,000 to 125,000. Biden tried to backtrack on this promise but reversed again once met with massive pushback by progressives and immigrant rights advocates. 

Title 42 still remains partly in effect and border agents continue to expel most adults and families with children to Mexico or their home countries.

Biden also promised to review the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for individuals who cannot find safety in their countries ridden by violence or disaster. 

He has also not ended for-profit immigration detention centers, nor has he rescinded Trump-era rules that disqualified victims of gang and domestic violence from asylum.

One may argue that this is due in part by the Biden administration’s ongoing situation at the southern border, made difficult by the number of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum, and the mass-media attention it has garnered. 
But the advocacy for sweeping change goes back months. 
 

Leaders like United We Dream are bringing attention to the deportations that are still happening under Biden’s administration. 

They say his administration is "well on track" to repeating the mistakes of the Obama administration, especially as it has deported and expelled over 300,000 immigrants in its first 100 days, despite promises to halt deportations. 

United We Dream and others are also calling attention to Biden’s lack of pursuance of a comprehensive immigration plan, especially considering the Senate’s gridlock and the lingering attachment to bipartisanship within the Democratic party.

The organization, along with partner groups will hold a “day of action: as part of its “Undeniable!” campaign, to urge Biden and Democrats to pursue a 51-vote strategy on a pathway to citizenship, effectively saying goodbye to the bipartisan approach.

Promises to Latinos
 
When Biden’s “Agenda for the Latino Community,” was released on Aug. 4, it indicated that perhaps the administration will pay more attention to Latinos. Despite it coming just three months before Election Day, it was different.

It was, what it called a “comprehensive” plan for the nation’s Latinx community, projected to be the largest non-white demographic eligible to vote that year.

Key points from Biden’s Latino agenda include investing in Latinx workers and small businesses, tackling racial inequality in healthcare and education, protecting DACA recipients, and combating hate and gun violence.

The plan outlines that Biden would ensure that political appointees, “including the President’s cabinet, look like the country they serve and ensure that our federal workforce is representative of demographics in our country.”

On this, the general consensus is that Biden delivered, with four Latinos in his cabinet. 

Within his Latino Agenda, Biden also touched on immigration, where he promised to have a bill for legislative immigration reform that “will modernize our immigration and give nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants n roadmap to citizenship.”

Again, as things stand in the Senate, this sweeping initiative has remained stagnant for the better part of his administration’s time in office. 

But as for the rest of his promises to the Latinx communities in the United States, that area remains a bit grey. 

On day one of his administration, Biden signed an executive order, “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved communities.” Under his administration, Congress rolled out a third round of stimulus checks to qualified recipients. Biden also issued an executive order “Strengthening Medicaid and the ACA.” 

The betterment of Latinx communities in the United states has largely fallen to Latinx legislators and leaders, who have been working on smaller, piecemeal measures, ranging from bettering environmental racism protections, providing avenues for citizenship for undocumented essential workers, and fighting for equitable access to education. 

The Covid-19 vaccine distribution has also been conducted almost entirely under Biden’s administration, yet Latinx communities across the nation remain among the least vaccinated, and they continue to get sick at disproportionate rates. 

From immigration measures to overdue promises to Latinos, Biden’s efforts have largely focused on rolling-back the previous administration’s initiatives rather than implementing the new and sweeping promises he has promised. Not great, but not terrible. 

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