By Laura Barros
Washington, Aug 20 (efe-epa).- Immigration policy will be one of the key weapons that former Vice President Joe Biden hopes to wield in his presidential campaign to defeat President Donald Trump, and he has promised that if he wins the White House he will undo the “damage” caused by the current administration.
Starting with his campaign promise to build a “wall” along the US southern border to keep out illegal migrants, Trump has moved to change the face of US immigration policy with a spate of controversial decisions that have dealt heavy blows to basic aspects of immigration including the migrants’ ability to request political asylum and the DACA program, which has prevented the deportation of young undocumented residents known as “Dreamers.”
The Democratic candidate, who on Thursday evening will accept the party’s presidential nomination, has said that Trump has launched an implacable assault on the values and history of the US as a nation of immigrants, and his campaign platform includes a number of planks devoted to immigration.
Biden, who served as former President Barack Obama’s VP from 2009-2017, has said that in his first 100 days in office he will halt a series of moves made by the Trump administration.
Among the most noteworthy points of the plan are the following:
– Ending family separation. Biden promises to roll back the prosecution of immigrants for minor infractions, put an end to raids on workplaces and “sensitive” sites such as hospitals, schools or religious venues, and to direct the efforts of authorities toward “public safety and national security threats” rather than trying to round up illegal migrants.
– Halting Trump’s asylum policies. The current administration has worked “against” the tradition of providing asylum for many who request it, the former VP has said, listing among Trump’s decisions the restrictions on people traveling to Mexico and Guatemala, the aim to prevent victims of domestic and gang violence from obtaining asylum and limiting this protection for members of the LGTB community.
– Ending prolonged detention. Given the Trump administration’s detention of children for “undetermined” amounts of time, Biden supports alternatives to this deprivation of freedom and backs programs benefiting migrants being mounted by non-profit organizations.
– Reversing the current government’s policy to deny visas or residence permits to migrants who may then request support under official aid programs. Biden has said that this policy undermines the nature of the US as a land of opportunity and acceptance for all, not just the wealthy.
– Reestablishing the Dreamers’ program, calling Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program “cruel and counterproductive,” a judicial battle that has reached the Supreme Court. Biden has promised to reestablish DACA and to implement additional measures to protect the Dreamers and their families.
– Rescinding travel bans. Since he entered the White House, Trump has announced several immigration and travel bans, the first of them quite early in his administration targeting seven Muslim-majority nations (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen), and last January the president expanded it to include citizens of Nigeria, Eritrea, Burma and Kyrgyzstan, while he excluded Sudan and Tanzania from various visa programs.
Biden also proposes, among other things, to:
– Modernize the US immigration system to take in not only Latinos but also 1.7 million undocumented immigrants from Asia, as well as “hundreds of thousands” of people from Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean.
– Create a path to citizenship for the almost 11 million undocumented immigrants who currently live and work in the US.
– Make changes to the temporary visa system for highly qualified people; that is, for people with skills needed in the US.
– Facilitate legalization of the status of agricultural workers, many of whom are undocumented.
– Preserve the visa lottery system.
– Create a category of visas authorized at the request of municipal councils, counties and cities.
– Put an end to private and for-profit migrant detention centers.