Biden and Immigration – What do You Need to Know?

While doubts remain about Donald Trump’s next move following his removal from the Oval Office, it cannot be denied that the Joe Biden administration is in the ideal position to push a more progressive policy program over the course of the next four years.

Of course, a slew of Biden’s first executive orders have sought to immediately reverse some of Trump’s core policies, while the election of the Democrat leader has also thrust immigration back into the national spotlight.

In this post, we’ll look at the Biden administration’s immigration plans, while asking how this may impact on the national economy.

What to Expect from Biden and Harris

While neither Biden or Vice President Kamala Harris have a spotless record on immigration (the latter once supported a San Francisco municipal policy that saw police hand undocumented youngsters over to ICE for deportation).

However, both parties have become increasingly progressive in their outlook over time, with this having been borne out particularly during Trump’s tenure.

During the Democratic primaries, for example, Harris argued that improperly or unlawfully entering the United States shouldn’t be a criminal offence, while she backed an immediate agenda to roll back Trump’s anti-immigration policies and build a future based on America’s more fundamental values.

A key aspect of this would see Biden use his presidential authority to protect undocumented immigrants and restore the DACA program in the US, while reintroducing Obama-era protections for the parents of Dreamers and recognising the huge contributions that these individuals have made to the US economy.

Just hours after being sworn in, Biden unveiled his first official immigration legislation, which sought to create a pathway to citizenship for up to 12 million undocumented immigrants cureently residing in the United States.

As part of this measure, Dreamers would initially receive expedited green card eligibility, including farm workers and those under temporary protected status at present.

The New Green Card, Immigrants and the Economy

The key element of the new legislation is clearly the focus on so-called “Dreamers” in the states, with Biden and Harris keen to remove the various technical barriers that currently prevent DACA recipients from transitioning legally to green cards.

This will positively affect up to 2.1 million individuals, who will also benefit from the implementation of new rules that define separation from a close family member as “extreme hardship”. 

The decision to make green cards more accessible to undocumented immigrants and those already living in the states is a seminal one, particularly given the largely positive impact that immigrants have on the national economy.

By the end of his tenure, it was thought that Donald Trump had reduced legal immigration by up to 49% since becoming President, while his administration’s aggressive approach to undcoumented immigrants caused chaos at the border and harmed refugees.

This also had a detrimental impact on the workforce, with some suggesting that economic growth was 59% lower than it may have been if a more progressive immigration policy had been in place.

So, while many debate immigration on points of principle and ideology, there’s no doubt that the policies made have a direct impact on economic growth and workforce productivity in the US. As a result, the Biden administration’s more progressive outlook could be excellent news for an economy that has been beleaguered by the coronavirus pandemic.

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