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The President-elect’s many promises on immigration are expected to be answered over his first 100 days. Photo: Getty Images 
The President-elect’s many promises on immigration are expected to be answered over his first 100 days. Photo: Getty Images 

Biden’s first real test as president is not the transfer of power, but immigration

He has promised to implement changes, including a deportation moratorium on day one.

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As the days before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration dwindle, the day where he will be forced to answer for his many promises on the campaign trail comes closer.

He has made a series of day-one promises, namely some regarding immigration. 

One was sending a bill to Congress to arrange a bipartisan and permanent solution for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. 

He also promised to overhaul the asylum-seeking process, and increase the refugee admissions cap to 125,000. Trump lowered it to 15,000 during his administration. 

Biden’s campaign also promised to review Temporary Protected Status for individuals who cannot find safety in their countries ripped apart by violence or disaster.

Biden’s immigration policy advisers recently met with Reps. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Hispanic Caucus Chair Raul Ruiz (D-CA), and Linda Sánchez (D-CA) to discuss the pending legislation.

But whatever the Biden administration comes up with, progressive Dems have already stressed that if he goes back to Obama-era immigration policies — simply revert to what was — the new administration has failed. 

Progressive Dems have demanded a comprehensive overhaul of the U.S. immigration system with “The Roadmap,” that goes beyond merely reversing Trump’s anti-immigrant policies, and goes beyond what Biden has already promised.

The effort is led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), and co-sponsored by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Yvette Clarke of New York, Judy Chu of California, Jesús García of Illinois, and Veronica Escobar of Texas.

On Tuesday, Jan. 13, Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris told Univision’s Ilia Caldrón that the Biden admin would first focus on a “sweeping” immigration reform bill that would grant green cards immediately to immigrants protected by TP status and DACA. 

Harris also said that their administration would push to decrease the waiting time required to gain U.S. citizenship to eight years from 13 by making the naturalization process more efficient, though there is yet no word on reverting the citizenship test back to the way it was before the UCIS announced changes at the end of 2020, making the process trickier. 

Biden has made many promises, but many immigrants’ rights groups are focusing on the ones he made during his first 100 days in office. 

He says the immigration bill is expected "immediately," but It’s not clear if it will solely affect DACA recipients and those with Temporary Protected Status, or if it will be part of a larger reform package that will address the entirety of his promises. 

If he fails to meet his own standards, immigrants and immigrants’ rights groups will be watching on the ground and will be the ones most affected. 

“Starting on Jan 20th we’ll be starting 100 days of collective action on social media for @JoeBiden to find solutions for the 11+ million undocumented folks in this country.” RAICES, the largest immigration legal services non-profit in Texas tweeted on Jan 13.

On Jan. 11, 500 immigrants’ rights advocates sent a letter calling on Biden to protect immigrant families and reverse Trump’s public charge regulations that “threaten health care and human services access for millions in immigrant families” as COVID-19 disproportionately affects BIPOC immigrant communities. 

Biden committed early in the campaign to reverse the Trump public charge policy.

Rep. Castro added his perspective on the upcoming immigration deliberations on MSNBC, saying that undocumented immigrants who have served as essential workers amid the pandemic should be put on an expedited path to citizenship.

“Undocumented immigrants who have been essential workers during this pandemic should be on a fast-track to citizenship because I think that they have earned it,” Castro said.

Reform is coming, but what is to be seen is how soon it will come, and how “sweeping” it will turn out to be. 

 

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