Literally with the stroke of a pen, President Joe Biden this week dismantled a significant portion of Donald Trump’s tragic immigration legacy.
The pain and indignation that the separation of newborns from his parents caused us; caged minors crying over the absence of their mother; the sequel to trauma and psychological problems that may accompany them throughout their lives. It is part of a wicked inheritance that must be exorcised immediately.
From his first day in the White House, President Biden had presented a clear roadmap that has as its ultimate goal comprehensive immigration reform with a broad door to US citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants and immediate relief for our “dreamers.” and for the hundreds of thousands of TPS beneficiaries.
His new executive orders seek to have a tangible effect and do not require congressional approval, where the pursuit of immigration reform has been an impossible feat since 1986. First, President Biden will undertake the urgent task of trying to unify the hundreds of immigrant parents and children separated by the Trump administration in cruel and inhuman ways at the border.
Second, the new administration will scrutinize the Trump-era policies that limited asylum applications, which included policies such as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) popularly known as “Stay in Mexico,” which resulted in thousands of applicants forced to wait in Mexican territory for the outcome of their cases.
Immigration activists defending immigrants on the border between the United States and Mexico warned that thousands of immigrants, desperate for months of waiting and their difficult human and economic conditions – exacerbated last year by the COVID pandemic – gave up their cases and returned to their countries of origin.
But the Biden administration will also review Trump-era policies that, in effect, made the process of obtaining Green Cards or Legal Permanent Residence Cards and citizenship difficult.
Perhaps the most controversial was the fearsome Public Charge Rule, which put boulders on the path to legal residency for more than 4 million immigrants, who were cruelly placed in the dilemma of receiving public benefits such as food stamps or risking their futures in the U.S. The accumulated backlog of naturalization processes during the electoral year did not go unnoticed either.
Taken together, these actions represent a breath of fresh air after a four-year nightmare that left an atmosphere rarefied with the fumes of xenophobia and racism. It is a good start, but the reality for many immigrants is still very harsh. The pandemic has made it worse. It will not be easy or immediate, but now the most vulnerable are already a priority.
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