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Is the US headed for open borders under Biden’s immigration policy?

Kaylee Greenlee, DCNF

  • President Joe Biden has proposed legislation that would expand immigration without increasing security or enforcement measures, according to a draft of the proposal. 
  • Republican Sen. Tom Cotton said that Biden’s proposed legislation consists of “open borders” that will have “no regard for the health and security of Americans.” 
  • Biden’s pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security suggests that the administration will not move to completely open borders, or necessarily adopt welcoming policies directed at migrants. 

President Joe Biden’s proposed immigration policies that would grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants, placed a hold on certain deportations and a temporary hold on Migrant Protection Protocols without increasing border security, according to a draft of the proposal.

Critics of Biden’s proposed legislation say the policies will lead to open borders and ultimately harm Americans while supporters say that the administration is unlikely to implement drastic policies as it works toward broader immigration reforms.


Biden’s proposed legislation does not push for increased security and enforcement measures at the border despite an expected expansion of immigration, the Los Angeles Times reported Jan. 15. Biden is likely not calling for increased measures after the Obama administration failed to gain the support of Republicans through similar proposals, National Immigration Law Center Executive Director Marielena Hincapié said, according to the LA Times.

The existing agencies should focus on prosecuting criminals and seizing drugs and guns instead of allocating more resources for immigration enforcement, Democratic California Rep. Raul Ruiz said, according to the LA Times.

‘Total Amnesty’?

Republican Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton said Biden’s proposed legislation consists of “open borders: total amnesty, no regard for the health and security of Americans, and zero enforcement,” The Washington Post reported.

“Let’s be clear: Joe Biden is prioritizing amnesty ahead of the pandemic or getting Americans back to work. We can’t let him get away with it,” Cotton said, according to the Post.

Biden’s Department of Homeland Security pick Alejandro Mayorkas, however, “indicates the new administration won’t be embracing open borders, or even crafting especially welcoming policies toward migrants arriving over the Mexican border,” according to Bloomberg Opinion columnist Noah Smith.

Smith said that the Biden administration is “unlikely” to adopt “radical pro-immigration” policies akin to open borders.

The Biden administration’s proposed legislation includes a pathway for 11 million illegal immigrants to obtain citizenship, the LA Times reported. Under the proposed legislation, illegal immigrants would qualify for legal permanent residence after five years and for citizenship after three more years.

Biden will offer permanent protections to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, end the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) and plans to raise the refugee cap from 15,000 set by the Trump administration to 125,000, Reuters reported. Biden rescinded a travel ban implemented by the Trump administration and issues a pause on most deportations for the next 100 days.

Executive director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project Jorge Barón expressed concern that immigration reform will take a “back seat” under the Biden administration, Crosscut reported.

“I think the lesson, at least for me, is that just the fact that there’s a new administration is not enough. There’s gotta be a lot of pressure for the changes to happen,” Barón said, according to Crosscut.

The New York Post editorial board praised Trump’s immigration policies as successful while saying that Biden’s proposed legislation would cause a border crisis similar to the one experienced during the Obama administration.

Migrant ‘Surge’

Biden’s victory could inspire a “surge” of migrants who think that a Biden administration means more relaxed immigration policies that would make it easier to enter the U.S., The New York Times reported last week. Biden’s potentially “far-reaching legislation” proposal would reinstate refugee and asylum programs done away with by the Trump administration, The Times reported.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation praised Biden’s decision to tackle Trump’s immigration policy over a six month period instead of rushing to get them repealed during his first days in office.

“The delay is a smart move, and Biden should use the first six months of his administration to backpedal further and embrace the reality that throwing open our borders to virtually unrestricted immigration would cause a crisis that would thrust border state governors into the greatest challenge of their careers,” according to the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Biden “pledged to do the opposite of everything Trump did regarding illegal immigration,” Heritage Foundation National Security and Foreign Policy Expert James Jay Carafano said. “It’s hard to find even a political upside to open borders and not enforcing immigration laws.”

Carafano said that most Americans don’t want open borders, and would rather see an end to human and narcotics trafficking and to end the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Trump Discouraged Migration 

The Trump administration’s policies geared toward deterring migrants from entering the country started showing results in California in July 2019 after former President Donald Trump threatened to tax Mexico if the country did not control migrants flowing through the country, The New York Times reported at the time. The MPP were implemented around the same time, leaving over 18,000 migrants in Mexican cities while their claims were processed by the U.S.

“The United States policy to return people to Mexico and the pressure on Mexico to stop the migration are having a big impact,” Tijuana immigration lawyer Daniel Bribiescas said at the time, The Times reported.

Mexico deployed over 20,000 security forces to avoid Trump’s threat of trade tariffs and a Customs and Border Protection official said that the deployment prevented “large groups” of migrants from entering the U.S., according to The Times. Mexican law enforcement intercepted 15 groups of 100 or more migrants in June 2019.

“In Joe Biden’s campaign, he offered to finalise immigration reform and I hope that he is able to achieve this. That is what I hope,” Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said, the BBC reported earlier in January.

Obrador added that Mexican security forces will attempt to divert migrants from entering Mexico, though he said that the rights of the migrants should be respected, the BBC reported.

MPP has discouraged migrants who are unlikely to qualify for asylum from attempting to enter the U.S., The Times reported in February 2020. The policy stopped a potential migration surge and has alleviated overcrowding in U.S. detention centers, though over 61,000 migrants ended up in makeshift camps near the border.

In 2019, nearly 30,000 people were admitted to the U.S. as refugees and 46,508 individuals were granted asylum, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Trump administration’s cap on refugees combined with new vetting and screening procedures contributed to a decrease in admissions since 2017, according to the DHS.

Colby McCoy contributed to this report.

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Daily Caller News Foundation

Founded by Tucker Carlson, a 25-year veteran of print and broadcast media, and Neil Patel, former chief policy adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, The Daily Caller News Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit providing original investigative reporting from a team of professional reporters that operates for the public benefit.

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