Biden’s broken promise: immigration

Immigration to the United States has always been difficult, but the Biden Administration must improve the process, especially after changes made by the Trump Administration.

by Jade Doerksen, Editor in Chief

Following the presidential inauguration of Joseph R. Biden in late January 2020, masses of migrants made the dangerous journey to the US-Mexico border. According to the New York Times, in February, the first full month of Biden as president, “officials apprehended a migrant along the border or at its entry ports more than 100,400 times.” Many of these migrants have been turned away, some after periods in likely overcrowded detention facilities.

The United States must find a safe and effective way to let people immigrate instead of simply forcing them back where they could be escaping poverty, civil unrest, or other issues that make it difficult for them to live in their home country. 

America has promoted itself as a place where you can come from nothing and become successful once you immigrate here with the American Dream. We see this messaging everywhere. On the Statue of Liberty it reads, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” If we forsake those who come to America for safety, and happiness, we are no better than that which has forced them from their own countries. 

 The ability to immigrate and start a new life is in the foundation of this country. However, people of color throughout American history have not had the same immigration rights. One example includes the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. We cannot allow this to keep happening. 

Currently, unaccompanied children are one of the only groups that actually have a chance of passing through the border, and even they are met with harrowing challenges. Migrant children are often put into shelters following a 3 day period in a border detention facility. However, more than a thousand children have been kept in detention centers for longer than the legal limit. 

These detention centers are often in poor condition with cots on the floor, aluminium blankets only, and people in close quarters. No one, especially children deserve to be in those conditions. Carmen Tran, co-president of Shorewood’s chapter of Amnesty International commented “Services in temporary facilities must include, like the permanent facilities, educational services, medical services, legal services, case management, clinicians, and services that support the security and health of the children.” The services and conditions as they stand, must be changed.

Although the administration is looking into other places to shelter migrants, this is not enough. Biden likely knew that many more migrants would be trying to immigrate when he became president because he promised to make it easier and lower restrictions bolstered under former President Donald J. Trump. However, there were not enough preparations ahead of the migration surge.

The administration knew what they were doing and did not secure additional appropriate and safe shelters promptly. This issue caused migrants to be subjected to unsafe conditions in detention centers where previously sexual assaults had been reported, children went missing, among other horrible experiences during the Trump administration, some of which could still be present.

Under Biden’s administration, the conditions of detention facilities are still unknown. According to NBC, “local press officers are instructed to send all information queries, even from local media, to the press office in Washington for approval” and that “multiple news organizations, including NBC News, have requested access to or photos.. [and] have been denied.” The lack of transparency is incredibly worrying, and it is possible that the Biden administration is choosing to stop reporting, instead of stopping inhumanity they promised to address.

This all begs the question, is Biden actually doing right by migrants seeking a safer, and better life in the United States, and is he still upholding dangerous and inhumane Trump-era treatment?

Biden seeks to separate himself from Trump, yet has not shown himself much different than Trump in immigration policies separate from a few issues. In Biden’s favor, he has restarted policies to help children from Central America apply for protection from the United States, such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and has stopped family-separations at the border which became a staple of Trump’s immigration policy. Although strides towards empathy and humanity have been achieved, the United States is still choosing reputation and party politics over helping our fellow human beings.

America must make the choice to support immigration, so everyone has the opportunity to create the life they need here. Sometimes it’s easy to lose perspective, but many of us are at Lady Liberty’s ‘golden door’ and we need to open it for others.