The Biden administration has made little progress on immigration

President Biden entered the White House with an ambitious immigration agenda, promising not only to undo the harmful policies imposed by his predecessor but to completely reform the U.S. immigration system into one that is more efficient, welcoming and humane.

One hundred days later, immigration experts generally agree that Biden has made some notable strides in the right direction but has a lot more work to do in order to deliver on those lofty promises.

“Only focusing on the reversal of some of the harm that Trump inflicted upon immigrants, refugees and border communities is crucial, but it’s not progress,” said Erika Andiola, chief advocacy officer at RAICES, a nonprofit that provides legal services to immigrant and refugee families, in a statement. “Progress and justice for the immigrant community means completely undoing every hurtful policy and going beyond the status quo of the Obama administration and his predecessors.”

Migrants and asylum seekers demonstrate at the San Ysidro crossing port between Tijuana, Mexico and California on March 23, 2021. (Guillermo Arias/AFP via Getty Images)
Migrants and asylum seekers demonstrate at the San Ysidro crossing between Tijuana, Mexico, and California on March 23. (Guillermo Arias/AFP via Getty Images)

As a candidate, Biden was particularly critical of the Trump administration’s policies that sought to limit access to protections in the U.S. for asylum seekers and refugees. Upon entering office, he quickly issued a number of executive orders to roll back some of those harshest policies, such as the Migrant Protection Protocols, which forced asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases were adjudicated in U.S. immigration court. 

But Greg Chen, senior director of government relations at the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said that while Biden has “taken some steps to improve asylum procedures, he has not executed on promises that he made to welcome asylum seekers to the United States, as well as refugees.”

On a call with reporters Thursday, Chen outlined some of the key findings from the association’s newly published review of Biden’s immigration actions during his first 100 days in office. Humanitarian protections, he said, are one of the areas in which the administration has made the least progress, and has even backed away from some of [Biden’s] pledges.”

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