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Biden Campaign Proposes Changes To Current U.S. Immigration Policy

On July 8, 2020, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s

presidential campaign released a proposed policy platform that it

drafted with members of Senator Bernie Sanders’

staff.1This proposed policy platform has been submitted

to the Democratic National Committee, and presents a series of

objectives and proposals addressing a broad range of fields,

including immigration.2 This article will provide a

summary of the those immigration objectives and proposals released

by the Biden campaign.


At its most basic level, the proposed policies issued by the

Biden campaign reverse the Trump Administration’s immigration

policies. For example, the Biden campaign proposes to immediately

rescind the Trump Administration’s immigration proclamations

banning travel and immigration to the U.S., and to invite those who

have been denied a visa to re-apply. The policy platform also

includes provisions for reinstating and protecting Deferred Action

for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients.3 The policy

platform also proposes to remove certain restrictions that

currently make it difficult for foreign nationals to apply for


Provisions in the policy platform recognize that the U.S.

immigration system needs fundamental reform, and that what is

required is an immigration system that embraces immigrants and

aligns with U.S. values of caring for those who are less fortunate.

For example, the policy platform seeks to eliminate the imposition

of the three (3)-year and ten (10)-year bars currently applicable

to those foreign nationals who have accumulated a certain number of

days of unlawful presence in the U.S., and then depart the U.S. The

policy platform also has provisions that would end workplace and

community raids. “A 21st century immigration

system that honors our values is an essential prerequisite not just

to recovering from the worst economic crisis since the Great

Depression,” the document states forthrightly, “but to

strengthening our democracy and guaranteeing America’s

long-term economic competitiveness.”


Specific Proposals

In an effort to craft an immigration policy that focuses on

compassion and embracing immigrants, the Biden Campaign has

proposed the following:

Rescind Current Policies and Practices

  • Reinstate DACA and expand theeligibility criteria;
  • Immediately terminate the TrumpAdministration’s travel and immigration bans;
  • Take urgent action to rescindexecutive orders issued by the Trump Administration and uphold U.S.commitment to offer refuge to asylum seekers;
  • Enact a 100-day moratorium ondeportations of people in the U.S. and conduct internal study ofcurrent practices;
  • Direct Department of HomelandSecurity’s (DHS) Office for Civil Rights and Civil Libertiesto undertake a review of the Trump Administration’simmigration policies;
  • Direct the Office of InspectorsGeneral (OIG) to conduct an investigation into immigrationenforcement spending, detention determinations, detentionconditions and practices, including whether there are policies thatare discriminatory in nature;
  • Rescind the TrumpAdministration’s new Public Charge Rule, and work with U.S.lawmakers to ensure immigration laws are not used to discriminateagainst immigrants based on their wealth, race, country of origin,language abilities, sexual orientation, etc.;
  • End the Trump Administration’s‘Zero Tolerance’ policy and prioritize the criminalprosecution of human traffickers, smugglers, and others engaged inserious crimes;
  • Re-establish prior asylum proceduresat the U.S. border in order to ensure foreign nationals are givenDue Process;
  • Eliminate “performance”quotas for immigration judges;
  • End the politicization of thedenaturalization process by eliminating offices created by theTrump Administration to denaturalize citizens and make sure thisextraordinary power is used only in the most egregious cases;
  • Ensure that Immigration and CustomsEnforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnelabide by professional standards and are held accountable forinhumane and unlawful treatment;

Reverse the Trump Administration’s politicization of

immigration courts and work toward making immigration courts more

independent, and free from influence and interference.

Provide a Path to Citizenship

  • Create a path for U.S. citizenshipfor the nearly eleven million people who are undocumented living inthe U.S., who have contributing to U.S. society;
  • Support legislation to provide legalstatus and fast-track access to Green Cards, with an eventual pathto citizenship, to agricultural workers based on prior work historyin the field of agriculture;
  • Fast-track legal status forundocumented workers who have been essential to the pandemicresponse and recovery efforts, including health care workers andfarmworkers;
  • Reaffirm U.S. commitment to diversityby preserving preferences for diversity in the current immigrationsystem;
  • Pursue legislative reform to providea pathway to citizenship for TPS and Deferred Enforcement Departure(DED) holders who have been in the United States for an extendedperiod of time.

Keep Families Together

  • Reaffirm family migration as acornerstone of U.S. immigration policy;
  • Prioritize family reunification byeliminating family-based green card backlogs and reforming thesystem to speed up family-based visas;
  • Ensure the equal treatment ofsame-sex couples and their children in the application of allfederal programs, services, and benefits, including immigration andnaturalization.

Reform Immigration Agencies

  • Establish a Border Oversight Panel,as well as Border Community Liaisons in each Border PatrolSector;
  • Ensure that the Office for CivilRights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) division within DHS has theauthority to investigate issues within the agency and is able toprotect people that come forward;
  • Protect immigration judges’right to unionize by halting the Trump Administration’sefforts to decertify the National Association of ImmigrationJudges;
  • Empower the Chief Information Officerto establish guidelines regarding the use of biometric surveillanceand information sharing technologies to meet the standards ofprivacy specified in the Fair Information Practice Principles,including: transparency and accounting regarding the use oftechnologies; informing individuals of the use of technology and

    existence of records; individual access to records and the

    opportunity to correct inaccuracies; ensuring that records are

    accurate, relevant, timely, and complete; and that all systems are

    audited regularly for compliance with these standards;

  • Marshal federal resources, throughthe reestablishment of the Task Force for New Americans, to supportcommunity efforts to welcome immigrants;
  • Require a one-year timeline for ICEand CBP to institute best practice policies and proceduresregarding the use of body cameras;
  • Ensure CBP & ICE enforcement isnot used to chill First Amendment rights to free speech andassembly;
  • Provide discretionary funding forU.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to addressbacklogs, and ensure that, going forward, USCIS can adjudicatepetitions and applications within six months of filing;
  • Invest in technology andinfrastructure at U.S. ports of entry and change the culture toemphasize “customer service” for travelers coming intothe U.S.;
  • Study best practices in immigrationgovernance and review whether making USCIS an independent agencywould enhance or undercut immigration protections or nationalsecurity.

Improve Enforcement and Detention

  • Ensure access to counsel andestablish federal funding to ensure that individuals in DHS custodyhave meaningful opportunities to secure counsel;
  • Protect sensitive locations, likeplaces of worship, schools, health care facilities, benefitoffices, and Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) offices, andprohibit enforcement actions at courthouses that deter access tojustice;
  • Reverse the historic practice ofusing local law enforcement to take on the role of immigrationenforcement;
  • Direct the U.S. Department of Justice(DOJ) to drop litigation and other inherited cases that aremisaligned with an immigration system that values diversity, familyrelationships, and other core principles;
  • End the use of for-profit detentionfacilities;
  • Prioritize the use of DHS facilities,case management systems, and community-based alternatives todetention for migrants who do not present a threat to publicsafety;
  • Detention of children should berestricted to the shortest possible time;
  • Reintroduce discretion into theimmigration system so that judges and adjudicators can weigh allfacts and make just and fair decisions;
  • Expand global efforts to register andprocess refugees for resettlement;
  • Double the number of immigrationjudges, court staff, and interpreters to remove the backlog ofimmigration cases and support timely and fair adjudications forasylum matters and other cases;
  • Reverse policies that prevent victimsof gang and domestic violence, as well as members of the Lesbian,Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) community,from being eligible to apply for asylum;
  • Protect and expand the existingasylum system and other humanitarian protections, includingprovisions in the Trafficking Victims Protection ReauthorizationAct (TVPRA) and the Flores Settlement Agreement for arrivingunaccompanied minors.

The above items are just some of the highlights of the Biden

campaign’s proposed immigration policy. There may be

additions and modifications to the proposed immigration policy in

the future, especially once the Democratic Party’s platform

is decided upon at the convention. Clearly, the immigration policy

proposals issued by the Biden Campaign are in stark contrast to the

immigration policies under the Trump Administration, and would be

regarded favorably by many immigrants, the business community, as

well as others. Immigration is likely to be a major topic of this

year’s presidential election, and it is important to

understand the differences between the immigration policies of the

two presidential candidates, because depending on the candidate who

wins the upcoming presidential election, it will have a profound

impact on the future of U.S. immigration.

1 “Biden, Sanders unity task forces release policy

recommendations.” Politico (July 8, 2020):


See also “6 Takeaways from the Biden-Sanders Joint Task Force

Proposals.” New York Times (July 9, 2020):

2 The entire document can be accessed at


3 These are foreign nationals who entered the U.S.

illegally with their parents when they were children. These DACA

recipients are sometimes referred to as


Originally published 15 July, 2020

The content of this article is intended to provide a general

guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought

about your specific circumstances.

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