The presidential election on Tuesday November 3rd is only 4 days away. Americans need to choose between democratic candidate Joe Biden and republican candidate and current President Donald Trump. As attorneys representing immigrants, we consider the candidates’ positions on immigration at the forefront of the issues at stake in this election.
There is no question that during the last four years of the Trump administration, the immigration process has become more complicated, time consuming, and unjust. Trump’s goal to drastically reduce legal immigration is being progressively achieved.
Among the many steps the Trump administration has taken to disrupt immigration, the following ones stand out. The administration has stripped protections for asylum seekers and refugees; tried to end the DACA program that protects immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and is currently restricting it; is ending TPS for nationals of several countries who are here for humanitarian reasons; and is increasingly denying and delaying the visa processing of foreign workers. It has banned the entry of several classes of nonimmigrants and immigrants from abroad, including spouses and children of lawful permanent residents and parents of U.S. citizens. The processing times for most types of applications are up, despite the number of applications going down. The administration tried to increase several application fees, most notably the naturalization application fee of $640 to $1,170, an increase sure to deter many eligible immigrants from applying for U.S. citizenship. A federal court has enjoined the fee increases for now.
The Trump administration is also attempting to pursue a new public charge rule to deter lower income immigrants from applying for permanent residency. The rule is currently being applied, but several lawsuits have been filed to stop the rule.
In deportation proceedings, the Trump administration has tried at every turn to accelerate the process and restrict relief for many, while disregarding the necessity for these proceedings be fair and unbiased.
Let’s not forget all the families with children that Trump separated at the border. Purposefully. Mostly after harrowing journeys to flee terrible, pervasive violence in Central America. The government has yet to track down the parents of 545 of those children.
A second term for Trump will ensure that additional restrictions are passed. If he has support from Congress, an immigration overhaul that ends most family sponsored visa categories could be enacted. The administration would like to begin a so called “merit based” point system that would favor age, education, income, and self-sufficiency.
The only way to stop this assault on immigrants is to vote for Joe Biden and elect democratic representatives to Congress.
Joe Biden plans to reverse many of the actions that the Trump administration has taken. This will not be an easy task and will be complicated by COVID, but he is committed to improving the situation. Joe Biden plans to reverse family separation for detained individuals and to reestablish and improve asylum and humanitarian policies. He plans to send more assistance to the border while ensuring order and security. He will reverse the public charge rule, fully reinstate DACA, and order review of the decision to end TPS. He also intends to stop workplace raids. If he can get Congress on board, he would like to provide legal status to individuals who are here without it and improve procedures for family and employment based applications for lawful permanent residency.
There are countless reasons that a vote for Joe Biden is a vote to repair the damage that the Trump administration has inflicted upon the United States and the rest of the world, and to avoid any further deterioration. In addition, the choice is clear if you support immigrants, their families, and fairness and humanity in how the U.S. government treats individuals who were not born into privilege like many of us are in industrialized, stable democracies.
Only individuals who have U.S. citizenship may vote in the election. Permanent residents and other immigrants with or without status cannot vote. It is too late to apply for and to obtain U.S. citizenship before this election, but if you would like to be prepared for the next one, consider applying for U.S. citizenship now if you are eligible. Your voice deserves to be heard.
For more information on the candidates’ position on immigration, see this flyer from the American Immigration Lawyers Association: