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Fronteras: 100 Days And Counting. How Will President Biden Continue To Change Immigration Policy?

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President Biden signs executive orders on immigration reform inside the Oval Office at the White House in Washington
TOM BRENNER/REUTERS
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U.S. President Joe Biden signs executive orders on immigration reform inside the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 2, 2021. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

In the first 100 days of his term, President Joe Biden issued three times as many immigration-related actions compared to Donald Trump in the same period. More than half of those actions were issued to unravel the executive orders of his predecessor.

That includes phasing out the Migrant Protection Protocols policy, rescinding the national emergency declaration at the border and reinstating the Central American Minors program, which reunites qualified Central American children with parents who are lawfully present in the U.S.

Muzaffar Chishti is an MPI Senior Fellow and Director of the MPI office at New York University School of Law.
Jasper Gilardi | Migration Policy Insitute
Muzaffar Chishti is an MPI Senior Fellow and Director of the MPI office at New York University School of Law. His work focuses on U.S. immigration policy at the federal, state, and local levels.

“It certainly reflects the two different philosophies of these two presidents on immigration,” said Muzaffar Chishti, Senior Fellow at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute.

Chishti co-authored the article, “Border Challenges Dominate, But Biden’s First 100 Days Mark Notable Under-the-Radar Immigration Accomplishments,” which explored Biden’s progress during his first 100 days in office as well as his policy shortcomings.

Chishti emphasized how much the challenges at the southern border dominated the political cycle within this time frame, but argued there are other immigration-related actions where, he feels, Biden deserves praise.

One of the quicker and the more dramatic accomplishments of the Biden administration on immigration, according to the MPI, has been within the realm of interior enforcement. Arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) dropped 60%, from an average of 6,800 monthly arrests in the last three full months of the Trump administration to 2,500 in February, Biden’s first full month in office.

Detention of noncitizens arrested by ICE also decreased by more than two-thirds, from an average of nearly 6,300 monthly book-ins from October to December to an average of 2,000 in February and March.

Chishti also noted the Biden administration’s phasing out long-term family detention.

“Family prolonged detention in two facilities in Texas — Karnes and Dilley — and one in Pennsylvania have ended. I'm not saying those facilities are completely being shut down, but they are now used only for short-term detention of people,” said Chishti. “Long-term family detention as we know it has come to an end and that's a significant achievement.”

Despite the notable achievements, the MPI notes Biden’s still-pending actions on refugees, asylum seekers and a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants living in the country will also be key decisions to set the course of the president’s legacy on immigration policy.

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Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1
Lauren Terrazas can be reached at lauren@tpr.org and on Twitter at @terrazas_lauren