By: Sheyenne White
On the campaign trail, Biden swore to overhaul draconian Trump-era policies by crafting comprehensive immigration reform. Although he did unveil an impressive immigration package on day one, that was soon followed by a myriad of executive orders, he has yet to deliver, revealing his calls for reform to be empty promises.
In fact, there appears to be a distressing thread of continuity between the two administrations as Biden has adopted Trump’s penchant for Title 42: a policy created and implemented under the Trump administration that relies on a 1944 public health statute to close U.S borders from “non-essential” travel. 1 The absence of public and congressional oversight within the policy marks a startling expansion of executive power. Furthermore, the decisions to make expulsions are made on an ad hoc and fear mongering basis that fails to take into account the federal protections that asylum seekers are entitled to under the purview of U.S law. While Democratic lawmakers — including then Senator Kamala Harris — were quick to express their opposition upon its enactment in March, 2020 under the Trump administration, they now refuse to do so. 2 Once again, legal rationale is conventionally used and abused to serve political ends, exposing the petty party politics that continue to dominate our political landscape.
Although Trump may have virtually reshaped every aspect of the U.S. immigration system through punitive executive action, policy guidance, and regulatory change, the Biden administration continues to operate with overrun and unregulated facilities. However, Biden’s gross negligence extends beyond the scope of inaction which is demonstrated by his recent expansive efforts: the reopening of the Carrizo Springs Child Migration Detention Facility in Texas and other Trump-era detention facilities. Not only are the facilities run by the same private companies as under Trump but the number of children is 25% higher than at the peak of the Trump administration. 3 Under the pretense of protecting public health, Title 42 has been used almost exclusively to bar migrants and asylum seekers at the Southern border. Keeping in mind that applying for asylum takes two and a half years on average, the 90 minute processing time under Title 42 is preposterous. Therefore, by invoking the Title 42 expulsion process, the Biden administration advances the familiar xenophobic and neocolonial agenda in the name of public health.
- O’Toole, Molly. “Biden Promised Change at the Border. He’s Kept Trump’s Title 42 Policy to Close It and Cut off Asylum.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 20 Mar. 2021,www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-03-19/a-year-of-title-42-both-trump-and-biden-have-kept-the-border-closed-and-cut-off-asylum-access.
- Harris, Kamala, et al. “United States Senate.” Received by Acting Secretary Wolf, 7 Apr. 2020.https://www.leahy.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/4.7.20%20FINAL%20Jud%20letter%20to%20DHS%20re%20Title%2042%20-%20SIGNED.pdf
- Leigh, Genevieve. “Ocasio-Cortez Says Left-Wing Opponents of Biden’s Immigration Policy Are Doing ‘a Profound Disservice to the Cause of Justice.’” World Socialist Web Site, www.wsws.org/en/articles/2021/04/03/cort-a03.html.