One Year Later, Promises on Immigration Have Fallen Short

Washington, DC – Shortly after the election of President Biden, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) released a comprehensive set of recommendations reenvisioning America as a welcoming nation. AILA then reviewed progress made by President Biden at the 100-day mark of his administration. Since then, AILA has further reviewed and analyzed the Biden administration’s promises on immigration and the actions taken, or not taken, on each of 12 focus areas. The new report, Still Striving — The First Year of the Biden Administration, covers promises kept, and those left unfulfilled, in the year since President Biden’s inauguration, a year in which the nation and economy continue to be battered by a global pandemic.

AILA President Allen Orr stated, “While progress has been made, the bold promises made by the Biden administration to make America a more welcoming nation by protecting DREAMers, reunifying families, restoring our faith in the legal immigration system, and ensuring fair and humane treatment for all migrants arriving to the U.S., have not all been realized. In his first year, President Biden and his agency officials worked to halt harmful and legally indefensible policies of his predecessor, both big and small, such as the public charge rule, travel bans, exorbitant fee rules, and rules that blocked access to asylum. Those were all important and necessary steps forward, but their record is marred by what they have been unable or unwilling to accomplish.”

AILA Senior Director of Government Relations Greg Chen added, “Unfortunately, President Biden also took major steps backwards by detaining more people unnecessarily in inhumane and unsafe jails and additional contracting with private prisons. During a pandemic that endangers all of us, the administration failed to protect the people it detains, thousands of vulnerable individuals for whom it is responsible. The most shameful and indefensible action is the president’s continued expulsion of asylum seekers using a Trump-era rule that the Centers for Disease Control itself recognized was not going to protect anyone’s health or safety. In another area, the immigration courts, the Department of Justice took important steps to restore some authorities to judges that were stripped from them by the previous administration. But the attorney general has done too little to reduce the 1.5 million case backlog, and simply hiring more judges will not be enough. Ultimately, to ensure everyone has a fair day in court, America needs an independent immigration court system.” 

AILA Director of Government Relations, Sharvari Dalal-Dheini, concluded, “We must applaud the administration for its increased transparency and interactions with stakeholders and how they have recognized the need for public engagement and information sharing with groups like AILA. However, what has been extremely disappointing to our members and their clients, is that the changes made have done little to address endemic failures of the legal immigration system. Customer service has not improved and processing delays for a wide range of visas and immigration benefits soared to new heights, resulting in the separation of families, keeping much needed employees out of the workforce, and leaving individuals in need of protection in limbo. So, yes, there’s a lot of work still to be done to ensure that our nation’s immigration policies deliver on President Biden’s campaign promises and allow the American Dream to flourish.”

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 22011852.