Friday, November 27, 2020
The Washington Post editorial board joins the chorus of white papers suggesting immigration-related reforms for a Biden Administration. Their article begins by noting the damage done under the formidable "wizard" Stephen Miller: slashing legal migration levels; gutting refugee and asylum admissions; halving the entrance of immediate relatives of current U.S. citizens; and halting the so-called diversity migration program that benefited underrepresented areas like Africa. The editorial board then posits that in order to counter the Trump Administration's changes, President Biden will need to install someone equally with a similarly aggressive vision and adept with the complexities of both immigration law and the administrative process. Alejandro Mayorkas, the nominee for DHS Secretary who previously headed the USCIS, may be the person.
The full article is worth a read. A few lengthy excerpts appear below, focused on legal migration and asylum, two areas that the prior administration wrought the most damage.
Restoring a sane and compassionate immigration system will be largely, though not wholly, within reach of Mr. Biden’s executive powers. He can increase refugee admissions relatively quickly, although it will take time to build back to pre-Trump levels. He can immediately stop work on Mr. Trump’s wasteful wall at the southern border, now funded by cannibalizing dozens of U.S. military programs. He can ensure the renewal of work permits and end the threat of deportation for dreamers, and grant reprieves to hundreds of thousands of migrants whose temporary protected status Mr. Trump tried to remove — even though many have lived here for more than a decade.
It will take longer to undo the hundreds of rule changes the Trump administration used to neuter legal immigration programs, including one that disqualifies green card applicants deemed likely ever to need government benefits.
The politically trickiest part of Mr. Biden’s agenda may be rebuilding the asylum system, which the Trump administration has dismembered under the slander of “catch and release.” No doubt, the country needs a functional process whereby migrants fleeing persecution at home can legally seek asylum here. It will be Mr. Biden’s challenge to rebuild such a system without establishing a magnet for new waves of illegal immigration.