Biden Day One Analysis: Illegal Aliens First, Americans Last
Immigration was President Biden’s top priority on day one. The new Biden administration said it must act quickly, and act with a flurry of executive orders, because the nation is experiencing multiple crises. "We face four overlapping and compounding crises," new chief of staff Ron Klain wrote in a memo a few days before inauguration. "The COVID-19 crisis, the resulting economic crisis, the climate crisis, and a racial equity crisis." Thus, Klain argued, President Biden should undo much of what President Trump did – and fast.
So Biden had a big first day, issuing 17 executive orders, multiple agency directives, and sent his first bill to Congress. This tells us something about his priorities. And judging by his first day, it appears that his top priority was not any one of those four "overlapping and compounding crises." Instead, Biden's top priority – again, judging by the things he chose to do first – is immigration. And not addressing immigration in a way that enhances the vital security and economic interests of the American people.
Of Biden's 17 actions, three dealt with coronavirus, two dealt with the economy, two dealt with climate, two dealt with racial equity, one dealt with ethics, one dealt with regulation, and six dealt with immigration. Plus, Biden introduced just one piece of legislation on his first day in office, and it wasn’t a COVID-19 relief package. Instead it was a mass amnesty bill called the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, which, among many other negative things, would provide a pathway to citizenship for over 11 million illegal aliens. Plus, Biden's acting head of the Department of Homeland Security ordered a 100-day pause in deportations and suspended the Migrant Protection Protocols Program (MPP).
Let’s dive into each one.
Mass Amnesty Bill: U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021
President Biden proposed amnesty for more than 11 million illegal aliens, a massive expansion of legal immigration, and the dismantling of enforcement his first day in office.
While text is yet to be released, it will soon be unveiled by Sen. Robert Menendez (R-NJ), a member of 2013’s Gang of Eight. Republicans are already signaling they’ll never support it. Below are some highlights of the plan:
- Amnesty with lifetime work permits for more than 11 million illegal aliens who were in the county on or before January 1, 2021. The proposal would also allow any illegal alien deported by the Trump Administration to return and receive the amnesty. Dreamers, recipients of Temporary Protected Status, and most illegal farm workers would be fast-tracked and be eligible for citizenship before the end of Biden's first term.
- A massive increase in legal immigration to include:
- Raising the annual caps for non-nuclear family members of U.S. citizens (chain migration)
- Increasing the Visa Lottery from 55,000 to 80,000 per year
- Stapling a green card to the diploma of all foreign students who graduate with an advanced degree in a STEM field from a U.S. university or college
- Admitting more than 4 million foreign nationals who are currently on the backlog for an employment-based or family-based green card
- Reprioritize enforcement efforts only to focus on the most violent criminal aliens and national security threats.
Proclamation on Ending Discriminatory Bans on Entry to The United States
- Revokes Trump EOs 13780 (travel ban 2.0), Proclamation 9645 (the version the Supreme Court deemed legal), Proclamation 9723 (removing acting secretary Chad Wolf) and Proclamation 9983 (Africa countries).
- Directs the State Department to report the number of applicants who are waiting for waivers to the now-revoked travel bans, have a plan to "expeditiously" adjudicate their apps, and allow immigrant applicants previously denied to have their applications reconsidered.
- Calls for a 120-day review of screening/vetting procedures, as well as "an evaluation of the usefulness of form DS-5535." That's the form the Trump administration put in place asking for more social media information from applicants.
Executive Order on the Revision of Civil Immigration Enforcement Policies and Priorities
- Revokes one of Trump’s first immigration EOs, “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” (13768).
- Trump’s EO directed ICE not to exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of immigration law became subject to arrest, detention, and, if found removable by final order, removal. Trump’s EO also encouraged states and localities to enforce immigration laws. Lastly, it revived the Secure Communities program, ordered DHS to consider stripping funds from sanctuary cities, and encouraged additional criminal prosecutions for illegal entry.
Executive Order on Ensuring a Lawful and Accurate Enumeration and Apportionment Pursuant to the Decennial Census
- This census EO requires the Commerce Secretary to report Congressional apportionment numbers based on total population (including illegal aliens) and rescinds a 2019 Trump EO instructing the Census Bureau to use existing government records to collect citizenship information.
- This is the first of many steps congressional Democrats and the Biden administration are looking to take in order to “fix” the census for political purposes. Senate Democrats sent Biden a letter asking him to do this, pursue deadline extensions, and create a commission to review the first results before delivering to Congress.
Proclamation on the Termination Of Emergency With Respect To The Southern Border Of The United States And Redirection Of Funds Diverted To Border Wall Construction
- This Proclamation ends the National Emergency declaration used to divert military funds for wall construction, halts all construction as soon as possible (no later than 7 days), and orders review of all contracts.
- One minor positive out of their control – leaves open possibility that wall money appropriated by Congress will be used for barriers if law requires it.
Preserving and Fortifying Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
- This memorandum directs the DHS Secretary and Attorney General to “preserve and fortify DACA.” Keep in mind that DACA is still in place, so they technically don't need to do anything. But they know Judge Hanen is going to issue a decision that could end the program, so they’ll try to fortify it in some way.
- It also asks Congress to enact legislation that would provide permanent status and a path to citizenship for people who came to this country as children and have “lived, worked, and contributed to our country for many years.” This is important – there are rumblings that Senator Durbin wants to bring a limited amnesty bill to the floor before the mass amnesty bill. He knows the latter is sure to fail in its current form, but the former is a different story. Many Republicans have voiced support for giving the DACA-eligible (and more) some certainty.
Reinstating Deferred Enforced Departure for Liberians
- This Memorandum extends Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) through June 2022 for thousands of Liberians and directs USCIS to process their LRIF applications faster.
- Liberian DED actually expired 10 days ago.
100 Day Deportation Moratorium
"The first hundred days of my administration, no one – no one – will be deported at all," Biden said in a March 2020 debate. "From that point on, the only deportations that will take place are commissions of felonies in the United States of America."
His first day in office, he made good on that reprehensible, extreme promise. Acting secretary David Pekoske – a Trump DHS appointee – signed a memorandum to “review and reset enforcement policies and set interim policies for civil enforcement while the Department develops its final priorities.” For 100 days, starting January 22, 2021, DHS will pause removals for nearly all illegal aliens – including criminals – while these policies are reviewed and reset to become even more lax.
According to ICE the U.S. deported 267,258 people in Fiscal Year 2019. That is 732 people a day, or 73,200 people in a 100-day period. (The number fell to 185,884 in Fiscal Year 2020 due to COVID-19). Keep in mind that those were not illegal aliens rounded up and thrown out of the country. They were all people who had their cases adjudicated, who had gone through the system, and went before an immigration judge – how the process is supposed to work. ICE says that more than 90 percent of them had "criminal convictions or pending criminal charges.”
So now, for at least the next three months, that process stops cold and many criminal aliens get to stay. While the memorandum says that ICE can still deport an illegal alien who “had engaged in or is suspected of terrorism or espionage, or otherwise poses a danger to the national security of the United States" or arrived after November 1, 2020, it still stops most deportations dead in their tracks.
Suspension of New Enrollments in the Migrant Protection Protocols Program (MPP)
The Biden administration announced that, starting January 21, it will no longer enroll asylum seekers arriving at the southern border in a Trump’s program that requires them to remain in Mexico.
The memorandum – also issued by acting secretary Pekoske – urged anyone currently enrolled in the MPP program to “remain where they are, pending further official information.”
This does not completely end the program, as that will likely happen once Alejandro Mayorkas is confirmed. The fear then becomes what he does regarding the 67,000 or so asylum seekers waiting in Mexico. If he actually rescinds the January 2019 memorandum that created MPP, he may then grant humanitarian parole to those subject to MPP. This would allow them to enter the country and apply for permanent immigration benefits, while new frivolous asylum seekers trek north to take advantage of the flawed process that was just restored.