With 11 million undocumented residents in the US, immigration has been a key issue in elections. But with the number of migrants traveling to the Southern US, many of whom are fleeing poverty from Central America, the issue has gained more urgency. According to a Gallup survey conducted in June 2020, 1/4th of American adults consider it the most important election issue in the country. Here are President Trump’s and Joe Biden's stance on the issue:
President Donald Trump
Does not support the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival) program
- Has attempted to terminate Obama’s DACA 2012 immigration policy which allows over 800,000 illegal immigrants brought in the US as children to work legally without fear of deportation
- The Supreme Court ruled in June 2020 that the Trump administration's decision to end DACA was arbitrary and violated the Administrative Procedure Act
Supports building and securing funding for the US-Mexico border wall
- Called for the construction of a border wall as part of his 2016 presidential campaign
- Claimed that if elected, he would "build the wall and make Mexico pay for it.”
- Mexico has refused to pay for any of the construction, leaving the Pentagon to fund it
- The administration hired a tech firm to build a virtual border wall
- 2019: Trump declared a state of emergency which allowed him to divert money from other projects to fund the wall
Supports the zero tolerance policy
- Issued a “zero-tolerance” policy to prosecute border crossings by undocumented migrants which led to several thousand children being separated from parents detained on the Mexico border
- Initiated ‘Remain in Mexico’ program wherein asylum seekers had to stay in Mexico
- After backlash, Trump signed an executive order to end the practice. But the administration continued to separate kids travelling with adults
Supports the travel ban
- Trump imposed a travel ban titled ‘Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States’, politically labeled as a Muslim ban that prohibited issuing visas to citizens of seven largely-Muslim countries like Iran,Iraq, Syria and Yemen, expanded to thirteen in 2020.
- Has rescinded protected status for thousands of people fleeing countries impacted by war and natural disasters. Since taking office, Trump has ended crucial protections for immigrants from six countries.
Wants to increase deportations
- Has made it legal to deport some people seeking asylum, who fail their initial asylum screening, without allowing them to make their case to a federal judge.
- Directed US ICE agents to conduct a mass roundup of migrant families that have received deportation orders. This is slated to target up to 2,000 families in as many as 10 U.S. cities.
- Currently the US holds thousands of immigrants in detention under the control of Customs and Border Protection and ICE. Several human rights organizations, and a series of reports made by the New York Times have cited concerns with ICE's management of these detention centers - instances of human rights abuse and inadequate or unprofessional medical care in these detention facilities.
Former VP Joe Biden
Supports restoration of the DACA program
- Would reverse Trump’s decision
- Would make dreamers eligible for federal student aid for college
- Would back legislation that provides a path to citizenship for them as part of efforts to do so for all of the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country undocumented, including those who did not arrive as children
Does not support building a border wall
- Said he would not tear down border walls built under Trump, but would halt construction
- He would end the diversion of Pentagon funding to build the wall
- Will focus instead on border enforcement like investments in improving the screening infrastructure at ports of entry
Does not support the zero tolerance policy
- Plans to reverse the “zero-tolerance” policy which resulted in family separation
- Would end the prosecution of parents for minor immigration violations
- Would make it a priority to reunite any children still separated from their families.
- However, there is evidence showing that when Biden was VP, the Obama administration did use cages beginning in 2014 to hold families apprehended along the border
Does not support the travel ban
- Has promised to rescind the bans calling them an abuse of power “designed to target primarily black and brown immigrants”
- Order an immediate review of Temporary Protected Status for vulnerable populations who cannot find safety in their countries ripped apart by violence or disaster.
Wants to pause deportations
- Has said he will pause deportations for 100 days after taking office
- He has criticized detention of immigrants calling it a "moral failing and a national shame"
- Restore asylum laws to protect people fleeing persecution and who cannot return home safely
- Ensure that ICE and Customs and Border Protection personnel abide by professional standards and are held accountable for inhumane treatment
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