What Would US Immigration Look Like If Biden Becomes President?

Labelling the Trump Administration’s visa and immigration policies as ‘inhumane’, Biden offers reformative policies.

Updated
Explainers
4 min read
Labelling the Trump Administration’s visa and immigration policies as ‘inhumane’, Biden offers reformative policies.
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President Donald J Trump’s “pro-America” immigration policies have made headlines from the minute he took office, in January of 2017.

Through several policies, the Trump Administration has vastly reshaped and reduced the American legal immigration system, targeting everything from asylum to deportation policies. This is unlike anything the country has experienced since The Immigration Act of 1924 was first published.

US President Donald Trump and Former Vice President Joe Biden have contrasting views on immigration.
US President Donald Trump and Former Vice President Joe Biden have contrasting views on immigration.
(Photo: Altered by The Quint/AP)

Presumed democratic presidential candidate, Biden’s campaign has labelled the Trump administration’s policies “draconian” and a “national shame”; an assault on American values and history of immigration.

So, what will US immigration look like, if Biden wins the presidency?

What Would US Immigration Look Like If Biden Becomes President?

  1. 1. What is the Biden Alternative?

    Arguing in benefit of the economy, Biden places immigration as central to the American competitive advantage, charged in spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation.

    His belief is centred around the contribution of foreign-born workers to the American economy, which is around $2 trillion annually.
    Source: www.joebiden.com

    Primarily, Biden’s immigration policies are reactive to the Trump Administration, seeking to “undo Trump’s damage”, working to “heal the wounds” inflicted on immigrant communities in America.

    Biden vows to work to heal the wounds inflicted on immigrant communities by the Trump Administration.
    Biden vows to work to heal the wounds inflicted on immigrant communities by the Trump Administration.
    (Photo: iStock)
    Expand
  2. 2. The 'First 100 Days' Mission

    Some of the critical policies the potential Biden Administration hopes to target within the first 100 days in office, if elected, are as follows:

    1. Reverse Trump’s Public Charge Rule

    Broadly, under the Trump administration, the “Public Charge Rule” has been interpreted as reducing the number of people eligible for Green Cards and other visas, and redefining entitlement to government benefits.

    Biden, in contrast, argues that by reversing this policy, America will once again be characterised as a land of opportunity, open and welcome to all, and not just be limited to the wealthy.

    The Trump administration has vastly reshaped and reduced the American legal immigration system, since gaining office in January 2017.
    The Trump administration has vastly reshaped and reduced the American legal immigration system, since gaining office in January 2017.
    (Photo: iStockPhoto, Reuters)
    Expand
  3. 3. What Does This Mean for Indian Immigration to US?

    Biden, through his manifesto, argues that, if elected, his government will liberalise immigration to the US, welcoming immigrants. This could be game-changing for Indian-Americans, who have been disproportionately affected by Trump's H-1B visa ban and Green Card suspension.

    “Biden will support expanding the number of high-skilled visas and eliminating the limits on employment-based visas by country, which create unacceptably long backlogs,” according to the democratic candidate’s plan.

    Trump’s call for the termination of the Green Card lottery  affects other VISA programs like the H-1B. 
    Trump’s call for the termination of the Green Card lottery affects other VISA programs like the H-1B. 
    (Photo Courtesy: Canva)

    At present, the total annual cap on Green Cards available for Indians is 20,000, leading to wait times that stretch across decades. If elected, Biden's manifesto states that he will work with Congress to increase the number of visas awarded for permanent, employment-based immigration.

    Expand

What is the Biden Alternative?

Arguing in benefit of the economy, Biden places immigration as central to the American competitive advantage, charged in spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation.

His belief is centred around the contribution of foreign-born workers to the American economy, which is around $2 trillion annually.
Source: www.joebiden.com

Primarily, Biden’s immigration policies are reactive to the Trump Administration, seeking to “undo Trump’s damage”, working to “heal the wounds” inflicted on immigrant communities in America.

Biden vows to work to heal the wounds inflicted on immigrant communities by the Trump Administration.
Biden vows to work to heal the wounds inflicted on immigrant communities by the Trump Administration.
(Photo: iStock)

The 'First 100 Days' Mission

Some of the critical policies the potential Biden Administration hopes to target within the first 100 days in office, if elected, are as follows:

1. Reverse Trump’s Public Charge Rule

Broadly, under the Trump administration, the “Public Charge Rule” has been interpreted as reducing the number of people eligible for Green Cards and other visas, and redefining entitlement to government benefits.

Biden, in contrast, argues that by reversing this policy, America will once again be characterised as a land of opportunity, open and welcome to all, and not just be limited to the wealthy.

The Trump administration has vastly reshaped and reduced the American legal immigration system, since gaining office in January 2017.
The Trump administration has vastly reshaped and reduced the American legal immigration system, since gaining office in January 2017.
(Photo: iStockPhoto, Reuters)

2. End the 'National Emergency' That Calls for 'Building a Wall'

Instead of using taxpayer money to build Trump’s wall, Biden argues that, if elected, his administration will refocus resources to smarter border enforcement efforts, like investing in advanced screening technology at ports of entry.

Joe Biden and Barack Obama.
Joe Biden and Barack Obama.
(Photo Courtesy: Instagram)

3. Reinstate DACA

Pioneered by the Obama-Biden government, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protected undocumented immigrants or 'Dreamers' that came to the US as children, and lived law-abiding lives while contributing to the American economy.

The Trump administration made the decision to terminate DACA, dismantling the roadmap developed for undocumented immigrants to move towards citizenship. When elected, Biden not only aims to reinstate DACA, but also ensure that the ‘Dreamers’ have access to federal student aid.

Supporters of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program (DACA) demonstrate on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House in Washington.
Supporters of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program (DACA) demonstrate on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House in Washington.
(Photo: AP)

4. Rescind the ‘Muslim Travel Ban’

Biden’s campaign states that the Trump administration’s anti-Muslim bias not only hurts the economy and American values, but also serves as “a powerful terrorist recruiting tool”.

Labelling it an “abuse of power” by President Trump in an attempt to “target black and brown Muslims”, Biden vows to rescind the 'Muslim bans' when in power.

Trump’s Muslim ban are driven by Islamophobia, Bidens said.
Trump’s Muslim ban are driven by Islamophobia, Bidens said.
(Photo: Harsh Sahani/ The Quint)

5. Hold Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Accountable

Under Trump, there has been media coverage of ICE ruthlessly separating families and keeping immigrant children in detention centres, among other humanitarian lapses. Under Biden, if elected, there will be ‘Senate-approved professionals appointed to lead agencies dealing with immigration, to ensure humane treatment.’

6. Restore Naturalisation Process for Green Card Holders

In sharp contrast to the Trump administration, that temporarily suspended the Green Card naturalisation process in April of 2020, Biden proposes to streamline and improve the naturalisation process, making it more accessible to aspiring Green Card holders.

Biden hopes to remove roadblocks to naturalisation, addressing application backlog as a result of the suspension as well as reducing the imposition of “unreasonable fees”.

What Does This Mean for Indian Immigration to US?

Biden, through his manifesto, argues that, if elected, his government will liberalise immigration to the US, welcoming immigrants. This could be game-changing for Indian-Americans, who have been disproportionately affected by Trump's H-1B visa ban and Green Card suspension.

“Biden will support expanding the number of high-skilled visas and eliminating the limits on employment-based visas by country, which create unacceptably long backlogs,” according to the democratic candidate’s plan.

Trump’s call for the termination of the Green Card lottery  affects other VISA programs like the H-1B. 
Trump’s call for the termination of the Green Card lottery affects other VISA programs like the H-1B. 
(Photo Courtesy: Canva)

At present, the total annual cap on Green Cards available for Indians is 20,000, leading to wait times that stretch across decades. If elected, Biden's manifesto states that he will work with Congress to increase the number of visas awarded for permanent, employment-based immigration.

In addition, according to Biden's manifesto, "Foreign graduates of a US doctoral program should be given a Green Card with their degree, (as) losing these highly trained workers to foreign economies is a disservice to our own economic competitiveness."

Indian students pursuing PhDs or a Masters in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields may be exempt from visa caps under Biden. This would make them directly eligible for Green Cards post their graduation.

At present, there are over 2,00,000 Indian Students studying at universities in the United States.
At present, there are over 2,00,000 Indian Students studying at universities in the United States.
Photo: indiaeducation.net

These suggested policy changes stand in stark contrast to Trump's stance on foreign immigration.

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