Hours after taking his oath of office on Wednesday, President Joe Biden fulfilled his promise to begin a major overhaul of U.S. immigration, including reversing the hardline “zero tolerance” policies of the previous administration. Facebook and Google quickly endorsed the moves, but others warned there was still a long way to go to reverse the “criminalization” of immigration policy during the Trump era.
President Donald Trump is leaving office with a backlog of nearly 1.3 million immigration cases stalled in courts across the nation, more than two and a half times the number when he took office in 2017, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. The backlog represents a formidable challenge to the next administration’s hopes for overhauling immigration policies.
President-elect Joe Biden’s legislative proposal on immigration, which will be sent to Congress on Wednesday, includes addressing the root causes of migration from Central America, an enforcement plan that deploys technology to patrol the border, an eight-year pathway to citizenship for immigrants without legal status, and an expansion of refugee admissions.
Trump administration officials “significantly underestimated [the zero tolerance policy’s] complexities and demonstrated a deficient understanding of the legal requirements related to the care and custody of separated children,” the IG report said.
Human Rights Watch has identified 32 instances of kidnapping or attempted kidnapping of asylum seekers in two Mexican cities where they were returned by U.S. authorities to await hearings. The cases reflect widespread abuses in a program that needs to be ended by the incoming administration, said researchers.
The Trump administration moved last year to replace the “Flores settlement” with new rules that would have allowed detention of immigrant youth traveling with relatives or guardians for as long it takes to resolve their cases.