Biden at the One-Year Mark: A Greater Change in Direction on Immigration Than Is Recognized

Muzaffar Chishti and Jessica Bolter
Date of Publication: 
January, 2022
Source Organization: 
Migration Policy Institute

This report outlines the actions taken by the Biden administration in the area of immigration during its first year in office, including 296 executive actions, compared to only 86 during the entire four years of the Trump administration. Although there is a tendency in the media to focus on Congressional bottlenecks to immigration reform legislation, the authors of the report conclude that Biden’s executive actions have “advanced or changed policies in ways that have significant impact on humanitarian protection, immigration enforcement, and legal immigration, touching the lives of large numbers of immigrants.” Some of the specific changes include greatly narrowing the number of unauthorized immigrants vulnerable to arrest, detention, and removal; lifting some barriers to U.S. entry and to accessing immigration benefits; and in the humanitarian protection realm, extending eligibility for temporary protection to an additional 430,000 immigrants, raising the refugee resettlement ceiling to 125,000, and proposing a restructuring of the asylum system at the southwest border. The report concludes that “given the reality of a Congress that has proven itself unwilling and unable over the past two decades to tackle significant change to the immigration system, it remains likely that future efforts will have to rely on executive action by the president.”

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Chishti, M. & Bolter, J. (2022, January). Biden at the One-Year Mark: A Greater Change in Direction on Immigration Than Is Recognized. Migration Policy Institute.