Immigration

Trump has waged an unrelenting assault on our values and our history as a nation of immigrants.

The Biden Plan for Securing Our Values as a Nation of Immigrants.

It is a moral failing and a national shame when a father and his baby daughter drown seeking our shores. When children are locked away in overcrowded detention centers and the government seeks to keep them there indefinitely. When our government argues in court against giving those children toothbrushes and soap. When President Trump uses family separation as a weapon against desperate mothers, fathers, and children seeking safety and a better life. When he threatens massive raids that would break up families who have been in this country for years and targets people at sensitive locations like hospitals and schools. When children die while in custody due to lack of adequate care.

Unless your ancestors were native to these shores, or forcibly enslaved and brought here as part of our original sin as a nation, most Americans can trace their family history back to a choice a choice to leave behind everything that was familiar in search of new opportunities and a new life. Joe Biden understands that is an irrefutable source of our strength. Generations of immigrants have come to this country with little more than the clothes on their backs, the hope in their heart, and a desire to claim their own piece of the American Dream. It's the reason we have constantly been able to renew ourselves, to grow better and stronger as a nation, and to meet new challenges. Immigration is essential to who we are as a nation, our core values, and our aspirations for our future. Under a Biden Administration, we will never turn our backs on who we are or that which makes us uniquely and proudly American. The United States deserves an immigration policy that reflects our highest values as a nation.

Today, our immigration system is under greater stress as a direct result of Trump's misguided policies, even as he has failed to invest in smarter border technology that would improve our cargo screening.

His obsession with building a wall does nothing to address security challenges while costing taxpayers billions of dollars. Most contraband comes in through our legal ports of entry. It's estimated that nearly half of the undocumented people living in the U.S. today have overstayed a visa, not crossed a border illegally. Families fleeing the violence in Central America are voluntarily presenting themselves to border patrol officials. And the real threats to our security drug cartels and human traffickers can more easily evade enforcement efforts because Trump has misallocated resources into bullying legitimate asylum seekers. Trump fundamentally misunderstands how to keep America safe because he cares more about governing through fear and division than common sense solutions.

Trump's policies are also bad for our economy. For generations, immigrants have fortified our most valuable competitive advantage our spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship. Research suggests that "the total annual contribution of foreign born workers is roughly $2 trillion." Key sectors of the U.S. economy, from agriculture to technology, rely on immigration. Working-age immigrants keep our economy growing, our communities thriving, and country moving forward.

The challenges we face will not be solved by a constitutionally dubious "national emergency" to build a wall, by separating families, or by denying asylum to people fleeing persecution and violence. Addressing the Trump-created humanitarian crisis at our border, bringing our nation together, reasserting our core values, and reforming our immigration system will require real leadership and real solutions. Biden is prepared on day one to deliver both.

As president, Biden will forcefully pursue policies that safeguard our security, provide a fair and just system that helps to grow and enhance our economy, and secure our cherished values. He will:

Take urgent action to undo Trump's damage and reclaim America's values

Modernize America's immigration system

Welcome immigrants in our communities

Reassert America's commitment to asylum-seekers and refugees

Tackle the root causes of irregular migration

Implement effective border screening

The Biden Commitment to a Fair and Humane Immigration System

Joe Biden understands the pain felt by every family across the U.S. that has had a loved one removed from the country, including under the Obama Biden Administration, and he believes we must do better to uphold our laws humanely and preserve the dignity of immigrant families, refugees, and asylum-seekers.

The Obama-Biden Administration strongly supported the bipartisan comprehensive immigration solution that passed the Senate in 2013 and which would have put our country's immigration policies on a much stronger footing. When the Republican House refused to even bring that bill to a vote, the Administration took action to fundamentally change the course of our nation's immigration policies, offering relief and stability to hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who contribute to our communities every single day.

As Vice President, Biden championed the creation and expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program; the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) program; the Central American Minors program, which allowed parents with legal status in the U.S. to apply to bring their children up from Central America to live with them; and the creation of a White House task force to support new Americans and help them integrate into their new homes and communities.

In a departure from their predecessors, the Obama-Biden administration took steps to prioritize enforcement resources on removing threats to national security and public safety, not families. It also issued guidance designed to end mass work-place raids and to prevent enforcement activities at sensitive locations such as schools, hospitals, and places of worship.

Critically, the Obama-Biden administration recognized that irregular migration from the Northern Triangle countries of Central America cannot be effectively addressed if solutions only focus on our southern border. The better answer lies in addressing the root causes that push desperate people to flee their homes in the first place: violence and insecurity, lack of economic opportunity, and corrupt governance. As Vice President, Biden spearheaded the administration's efforts in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras bringing high-level attention to these issues and securing bipartisan support for a $750 million aid package to help the Northern Triangle countries implement critical, concrete reforms. These efforts were beginning to deliver results and reduce migration rates until Trump froze the majority of the funding, began his campaign to terrorize immigrants and assault the dignity of the Latino community, and created the current humanitarian crisis at our border with his irresponsible and inhumane policies.

As president, Biden will finish the work of building a fair and humane immigration system restoring the progress Trump has cruelly undone and taking it further. He will secure our border, while ensuring the dignity of migrants and upholding their legal right to seek asylum. He will enforce our laws without targeting communities, violating due process, or tearing apart families. He will ensure our values are squarely at the center of our immigration and enforcement policies.

Take Urgent Action to Undo Trump's Damage and Reclaim America's Values

The next president will need to take urgent action to end the Trump Administration's draconian policies, grounded in fear and racism rather than fact, work to heal the wounds inflicted on immigrant communities, and restore America's moral leadership. As president, Biden will move immediately to ensure that the U.S. meets its responsibilities as both a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.

In the first 100 days, a Biden Administration will:

Immediately reverse the Trump Administration's cruel and senseless policies that separate parents from their children at our border, including ending the prosecution of parents for minor immigration violations as an intimidation tactic, and prioritize the reunification of any children still separated from their families.

End Trump's detrimental asylum policies. The Statue of Liberty has long been a beacon to people "yearning to breathe free" around the world including asylum-seekers and refugees. But the Trump Administration has worked against this tradition to drastically restrict access to asylum in the U.S., including imposing additional restrictions on anyone traveling through Mexico or Guatemala; attempting to prevent victims of gang and domestic violence from receiving asylum; systematically prosecuting adult asylum seekers for misdemeanor illegal entry; and severely limiting the ability of members of the LGBTQ community, an especially vulnerable group in many parts of the world, from qualifying for asylum as members of a "particular social group." Biden will end these policies, starting with Trump's Migrant Protection Protocols, and restore our asylum laws so that they do what they should be designed to do protect people fleeing persecution and who cannot return home safely.

End the mismanagement of the asylum system, which fuels violence and chaos at the border. Trump's disastrous policy of "metering" limiting the number of asylum applications accepted each day forces people seeking asylum to wait on the streets in often dangerous Mexican border towns for weeks before they are permitted to apply. It has created a horrifying ecosystem of violence and exploitation, with cartels kidnapping, violently assaulting, and extorting migrants. Biden will direct the necessary resources to ensure asylum applications are processed fairly and efficiently, while treating families and children with compassion and sensitivity.

Surge humanitarian resources to the border and foster public private initiatives. Humanitarian needs are best met through a network of organizations, such as faith-based shelters, non-governmental aid organizations, legal non-profits, and refugee assistance agencies working together. Biden will dramatically increase U.S. government resources to support migrants awaiting assessment of their asylum claims and to the organizations providing for their needs.

End prolonged detention and reinvest in a case management program. The Trump Administration has sought to circumvent the Flores agreement and hold children in detention indefinitely. But proven alternatives to detention and non-profit case management programs, which support migrants as they navigate their legal obligations, are the best way to ensure that they attend all required immigration appointments. These programs also enable migrants to live in dignity and safety while awaiting their court hearings facilitating things like doctor visits, social services, and school enrollment for children. Evidence shows that these programs are highly effective and are far less expensive and punitive than detaining families. Biden will codify protections to safeguard children to make sure their treatment is consistent with their best interest and invest in community-based case management programs, including those supported by faith-based organizations such as Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, to move migrants into safe environments as quickly as possible.

Reverse Trump's public charge rule, which runs counter to our values as Americans and the history of our nation. Allowing immigration officials to make an individual's ability to receive a visa or gain permanent residency contingent on their use of government services such as SNAP benefits or Medicaid, their household income, and other discriminatory criteria undermines America's character as land of opportunity that is open and welcoming to all, not just the wealthy.

End the so-called National Emergency that siphons federal dollars from the Department of Defense to build a wall. Building a wall will do little to deter criminals and cartels seeking to exploit our borders. Instead of stealing resources from schools for military children and recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, Biden will direct federal resources to smart border enforcement efforts, like investments in improving screening infrastructure at our ports of entry, that will actually keep America safer.

Protect Dreamers and their families. The Obama Biden Administration created DACA in 2012 to protect "Dreamers," undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, obeyed the law once here, and stayed in school or enlisted in the military. DACA provided young people who passed a background check and application process with temporary work permits and protection from deportation. The Trump Administration made the cruel and counterproductive decision to terminate DACA, throwing into turmoil the lives of millions of Dreamers. Dreamers and their parents should have a roadmap to citizenship through legislative immigration reform. But in the meantime, Biden will remove the uncertainty for Dreamers by reinstating the DACA program, and he will explore all legal options to protect their families from inhumane separation. Biden will also ensure Dreamers are eligible for federal student aid (loans, Pell grants) and are included in his proposals to provide access to community college without debt and invest in HBCU/Hispanic Serving Institution/Minority Serving Institutions, which will help Dreamers contribute even more to our economy.

Rescind the un-American travel and refugee bans, also referred to as "Muslim bans." The Trump Administration's anti-Muslim bias hurts our economy, betrays our values, and can serve as a powerful terrorist recruiting tool. Prohibiting Muslims from entering the country is morally wrong, and there is no intelligence or evidence that suggests it makes our nation more secure. It is yet another abuse of power by the Trump Administration designed to target primarily black and brown immigrants. Biden will immediately rescind the "Muslim bans."

Order an immediate review of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for vulnerable populations who cannot find safety in their countries ripped apart by violence or disaster. The Trump Administration's politically-motivated decisions to rescind protected status for hundreds of thousands of people fleeing countries impacted by war and natural disasters without regard for current country conditions is a recipe for disaster. Biden will protect TPS and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders from being returned to countries that are unsafe. TPS/DED holders who have been in the country for an extended period of time and built lives in the U.S. will also be offered a path to citizenship through legislative immigration reform.

Restore sensible enforcement priorities. Targeting people who have never been convicted of a serious criminal offense and who have lived, worked, and contributed to our economy and our communities for decades is the definition of counterproductive. Biden will direct enforcement efforts toward threats to public safety and national security, while ensuring that individuals are treated with the due process to which they are entitled and their human rights are protected. President Biden will end workplace raids to ensure that threats based on workers' status do not interfere with their ability to organize and improve their wages and working conditions. He will also protect sensitive locations from immigration enforcement actions. No one should be afraid to seek medical attention, go to school, their job, or their place of worship for fear of an immigration enforcement action.

Ensure that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel abide by professional standards and are held accountable for inhumane treatment. Biden will increase resources for training and demand transparency in and independent oversight over ICE and CBP's activities. Under a Biden Administration, there will be responsible, Senate confirmed professionals leading these agencies, and they will answer directly to the president.

Protect and expand opportunities for people who risked their lives in military service. Biden will not target the men and women who served in uniform, or their families, for deportation. He will also direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to create a parole process for veterans deported by the Trump Administration, to reunite them with their families and military colleagues in the U.S.

Restore and defend the naturalization process for green card holders. A Biden Administration will streamline and improve the naturalization process to make it more accessible to qualified green card holders. The Trump Administration has made it far too difficult for qualifying green card holders to obtain citizenship. Quite simply, this is wrong. Biden will restore faith in the citizenship process by removing roadblocks to naturalization and obtaining the right to vote, addressing the application backlog by prioritizing the adjudication work stream and ensuring applications are processed quickly, and rejecting the imposition of unreasonable fees.

Revitalize the Task Force on New Americans and boost our economy by prioritizing integration, promoting immigrant entrepreneurship, increasing access to language instruction, and promoting civil engagement. Integrating the talents of new immigrants into our communities and helping them to thrive enriches our nation and our economy. Under President Biden, the Task Force on New Americans will once more coordinate federal agencies and resources to provide community support across a range of issues, including language learning, entrepreneurship and financial management, workforce training, and guidance on the naturalization process.

Convene a regional meeting of leaders, including from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Canada, to address the factors driving migration and to propose a regional resettlement solution. Migration out of the Northern Triangle has impacted more countries than just the U.S. Belize, Costa Rica, Mexico, and others have also seen growing numbers fleeing violence and a lack of opportunity. A regional problem requires a regional solution, so Biden will immediately convene regional partners to institute a comprehensive, multi-national plan to address the challenges.

Modernize America's Immigration System

As president, Biden will commit significant political capital to finally deliver legislative immigration reform to ensure that the U.S. remains open and welcoming to people from every part of the world and to bring hardworking people who have enriched our communities and our country, in some cases for decades, out of the shadows. This is not just of concern to Latino communities, this touches families of every heritage and background. There are approximately 1.7 million undocumented immigrants from Asia in the U.S., as well as hundreds of thousands from Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Caribbean. Biden will immediately begin working with Congress to modernize our system, with a priority on keeping families together by providing a roadmap to citizenship for nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants; growing our economy and expanding economic opportunity across the country by improving and increasing opportunities for legal immigration; and preserve the longstanding directive of our immigration system to reunite families and enhance our diversity.

Immigrants are essential to the strength of our country and the U.S. economy. When immigrants choose to come to the U.S., they bring their unique traditions and contributions to the rich cultural tapestry of our country. They are also a key driver of economic growth. The Congressional Budget Office found that the 2013 comprehensive immigration package would have, over time, increased the size of the economy by more than 5 percent. Currently, we are not taking advantage of America's ability to attract the best and brightest workers in the world. A modern immigration system must allow our economy to grow, while protecting the rights, wages, and working conditions of all workers, and holding employers accountable if they don't play by the rules. Immigrant rights and worker rights are deeply connected. We must ensure that every worker is protected, can join a union, and can exercise their labor rights regardless of immigration status or the safety of all workers.