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100 Days in Review

Last Thursday, April 29th, marks the end of President Biden’s first 100 days in office. In recent history, the first 100 days often indicate the newly elected president’s priorities and signal how he seeks to set himself apart from his predecessor. Following his campaign promises, President Joe Biden pursued an approach to immigration policy that is significantly distinct from the last administration. In many ways, President Biden took concentrated measures that ended cruel and unjust immigration practices. However, there are many ways in which the President failed to boldly invest in transformative reforms that honor the God-given dignity and goodness of immigrants.

From day one, the Biden administration targeted some of Trump’s most controversial executive actions, including revoking the travel ban on largely Muslim countries (popularly known as the Muslim Ban), ending the Migrant Protection Protocol (popularly known as the Remain in Mexico rule), and ended the coronavirus ban on immigrant and nonimmigrant visas. The President also directed broad immigration enforcement back to the status quo: focusing removal efforts on noncitizens who present a national or public threat. These reversals, among many others, brought much-needed relief by halting the onslaught on immigrant and prospective immigrant communities under the Trump administration. 

His failure to increase the refugee cap until after his first 100 days, as promised, caused at least 715 refugee flights to be cancelled. 

In addition to repealing harmful policies, the Biden administration also attempted to proactively address some immigration challenges.. On the humanitarian side, the President designated immigrants from Venezuela and Myanmar Temporary Protection Status (TPS) -- which advocates have long asked for-- and restarted the Central American Program. The administration also worked with Congressional leaders to introduce the U.S. Citizenship of 2021 bill, aiming to deliver long-awaited reforms to the broken immigration system. The bill has yet to make much headway in either chambers of Congress.

While the Biden administration has made speedy progress in repealing some of the policies most harmful to our immigrant neighbors and took steps toward improving the existing system, it also failed to fulfill major promises. On the front of the asylum program, the President maintained the Trump-era immoral use of Title 42, which categorically expels asylum seekers on the border  without granting the proper asylum processes protected by law. President Biden also received heightened criticism from his insistence to keep the historically low refugee resettlement cap of 15,000 for this fiscal year, which he later backtracked. On Monday, May 3rd, he increased the refugee resettlement cap to 62,500 after significant pressure from domestic and international advocates. His failure to increase the refugee cap until after his first 100 days, as promised, caused at least 715 refugee flights to be cancelled. 

A permanent solution to our broken immigration system is needed

The first 100 days signals an administration that is willing to actively shape the nation’s immigration landscape. In some instances, the administration has listened to advocates and communities, acknowledged some of the harms done by hardline policies, and used its power to end some of those policies. However, what we have yet to see is how much the administration is willing to address the structural brokenness of the immigration system itself. 

As Christians, we know that our current immigration system prevents us from welcoming and loving our immigrant neighbors well. A permanent solution to our broken immigration system is needed to keep families together and to protect the lives, dreams, and futures of hundreds of thousands of immigrants who enrich our nation. Let us continue to spur President Biden and our congressional leaders into action and bring about a comprehensive and meaningful immigration reform.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

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