The Biden-Harris ticket marks a sharp left-shift on the subject of immigration – both legal and illegal. What would those changes look like and how would they affect the American worker?
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was a 2012 executive order by President Barack Obama that protected hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants brought to the country as minors. The legality of the program has been repeatedly challenged, and Trump has sought to end the program – although he was denied this summer by the Supreme Court.
Biden wants to give those he calls “dreamers” protected status by reinstating the program and providing a pathway to citizenship. He has also promised to protect their family members from deportation and ensure they are eligible for federal student aid and access to free community college.
Biden wants to offer a "roadmap to citizenship" to the more than 11 million people in the country illegally. He wants to change enforcement priorities to further narrow the focus on deporting criminals. He would also end workplace raids targeting illegal immigrant workers of the kind that were seen in Mississippi in 2019.
Separately, a task force set up by Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., calls for the end to the Migrant Protection Protocols, known as the "Remain in Mexico" policy, whereby migrants are kept south of the border while their hearings went ahead. It would end the Asylum Cooperative Agreements with Northern Triangle countries that had allowed migrants to be either stopped there or returned to those countries.
It also reiterates Biden’s call for a 100-day moratorium on deportations of illegal immigrants “while conducting a full-scale study on current practices to develop recommendations for transforming enforcement policies and practices” at ICE and Customs and Border Protection.
The task force also looks to extend coverage from the Affordable Care Act to those illegal immigrants brought to the country as children, and who were protected by the Obama-era DACA program. Additionally, it would allow illegal immigrants to purchase unsubsidized coverage in the ACA marketplace.
Joe Biden has promised to reverse the "public charge" rule implemented by the Trump administration, which strengthens guidance to deny immigrants a green card if they are likely to be reliant on welfare going forward. Biden's campaign says that "runs counter to our values as Americans and the history of our nation."
A Biden administration would work with Congress to reform the current temporary worker visas system to allow foreign workers to change jobs and give employers flexibility in return for “strong safeguards” making employers pay a “fair calculation of the prevailing wage.”
For other visas, the Biden-Harris ticket promises to reform the process to “establish a wage-based allocation process” and other mechanisms to make sure such visas are not used to undermine wages of existing American workers.
But that call is also accompanied by an expansion of the number of “high-skilled visas” and ending the limits on employment-based visas by country, which currently leads to large backlogs in countries like India. Biden’s campaign also calls for the preservation of the Diversity Visa Lottery, which Trump has sought to abolish.
In addition to the increase of temporary visas, Biden has called for an increase in the number of permanent work-based visas too. Currently capped at 140,000 each year, Biden would work with Congress to increase that number, but also reduce it at times of high unemployment. A President Biden would also create a new visa category to allow cities and counties to petition for more immigration to “support their growth.”
The expansion of visas, as well as the various grants of support and legalization to those in the country illegally, have immigration hawks very concerned about the effects such moves could have on American workers.
The Federation for American Immigration Reform, an organization that calls for lower immigration overall and is analyzing what it believes will be the effects of the Biden plan on American workers and public safety, told Fox News that it would be a “deadly cocktail for American workers already in the middle of an unprecedented economic crisis.”
“Despite what Biden, his party and some Republicans obsessed with nothing more than GDP growth say, increasing immigration does have negative effects,” RJ Hauman, FAIR’s head of government relations, told Fox News. “All you have to do is look at wage trends over the past half-century. When more workers come in, what companies have to pay to hire workers goes down.”
The Biden campaign has made a number of attempts to reassure those concerned about the effect a spike in immigration may have on the American workforce.
Biden’s campaign has pledged that he will work with Congress to ensure that immigrant workers are not being taken advantage of, and that “workers are not being undercut by employers who don’t play by the rules.”
He has also pledged to renew the Obama-era Task Force on New Americans and focus on “prioritizing integration, promoting immigrant entrepreneurship, increasing access to language instruction, and promoting civil engagement” moves his campaign says will boost the economy.
It’s part of a broader argument by those who support higher levels of immigration. They argue that immigrants strengthen businesses and boost the economy, which, in turn, helps American workers.
Biden says his plan for immigration reform will focus on “growing our economy and expanding economic opportunity across the country by improving and increasing opportunities for legal immigration.”