This year’s elections will look different from past elections, but for a good reason — for the first time in U.S. history, immigrants will be making up a record of 1 in 10 voters for the 2020 elections, making up roughly 10% of the nation’s overall electorate. And, as the November 3 election comes closer, it is no surprise that the issue of immigration has become a deciding factor for many voters.
Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s 100-Day Immigration Plan addresses some of the most debated topics, and paints a picture of what his first year in the White House would look like. Here are some highlights from his plan:
The Undoing of Several Trump Administration Policies
Plenty of Biden’s promises to immigrants have to do with putting an end to the Trump-era restraining policies on immigrantion. The former vice president committed to putting an end to Trump’s zero tolerance policy, which infamously resulted in family separation along the southern border. Biden also pledged to address the rigid caps set on refugees entering the country, which Trump slashed by 80% compared to the Obama administration. He also promised to decrease restrictions on travel, including the “Muslim ban”.
“A policy that separates young children from their parents isn’t a ‘deterrent.’ It’s unconscionable,” Biden, who is currently topping the polls as a 2020 presidential candidate, wrote in the statement. “A policy that traumatizes children isn’t a bargaining chip. It’s abhorrent. And a President and an administration that continues this policy isn’t protecting our border and our people. It threatens to make us a pariah in the world.”
In terms of internal immigration policies, Biden promised to expand opportunities for illegal immigrants in the U.S. who have served in the American military. He also said he would put an end to the Public Charge Rule, which allows the federal government to decide who can become a U.S. citizen based on what public benefits immigrants have accessed, along with other factors, like their health, family size, education, and English proficiency.
Hope for DREAMers
Biden has promised to protect Dreamers and their families by upholding the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which Trump has tried to end for years. The program is close to Biden’s heart, as it was during the Obama-Biden presidency that the program was instituted in order to grant deferral from deportation, and work permits, to nearly 700,000 undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country before they were 16 years old.
“For over eight years, DACA has given hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who came to this country as children the chance to contribute to the country they know as home. And with that opportunity, they have shown the incredible capacity of the immigrant spirit,” said Biden. “[I] will continue to stand with DACA recipients, their parents, and their families at every step, and in November, joined by millions across this country, we will reject the President who tried to rip so many of our family members, friends, and coworkers out of our lives.”
The former vice president also promised to make DACA permanent on “day one” of his presidency and to ensure Dreamers are eligible for federal student aid and are included in his proposals to provide debt-free access to community college.
A better Immigration Processing System
Other commitments Biden made to his potential voters include an improvement of the naturalization process and path to citizenship for qualified green card holders. On his website, Biden’s team says that the Trump Administration has made it “far too difficult for qualifying green card holders to obtain citizenship,” and assures that the former vice president will restore “faith in the citizenship process” by removing roadblocks to naturalization and addressing the application’s delay times, in addition to getting rid of “unreasonable fees” associated with the process.
Other Changes for Immigrants
Biden adds that he would like to review the Temporary Protection Status (TPS) programs, saying that he supports extending these benefits to Venezuelans, aside from protecting the existing TPS holders.
“We should be engaging and offering our help to organize this hemisphere right now, because you’re going to have the destabilization of countries from Belize to Brazil to Colombia because of the millions of people that are fleeing from Venezuela,” Biden said at an event in Las Vegas last year.
When addressing the U.S.’s shortcomings related to the handling of asylum seekers, Biden promised to end the mismanagement of the asylum system. He also accused the Trump administration of having created “a humanitarian disaster” at the southern border and having “grossly mismanaged the unprecedented resources Congress has allocated for it.”
Additionally, he criticized Trump’s Migrant Protection Protocol policies, which forces asylum-seekers to wait for their hearing outside of the U.S., often becoming victims of violence and human trafficking while waiting.
For immigrants who are already in the States, Biden promised to revitalize the Task Force on New Americans, a program that strives to integrate “the talents of new immigrants into our communities.”
Finally, Biden pledged to summon a regional meeting of leaders (including leaders from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Canada) in order to address the factors driving migration to the United States from these countries, and to collaborate on an effective, multinational strategy to tackle these migration challenges.