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Democracy Matters - Episode 49: From Chaos to Compassion: A New Era for Immigration?


 
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SUMMARY: In this episode of Democracy Matters, we talk with Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, Policy Counsel at the American Immigration Council about immigration law and policy and what to expect under the Biden administration.


Relying on executive authority and issuing 400 executive actions on immigration, the Trump administration implemented policies on a wide range of immigration issues, touching on everything from asylum to deportation policy, refugee resettlement, and admissions from certain majority-Muslim countries.

The number of migrant apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border rose in fiscal 2019 to its highest annual level in 12 years. Most of those apprehended were from the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, which have struggled with violence and a lack of economic opportunities.

The sharp rise in Central American families seeking asylum led to what Customs and Border Patrol called a “humanitarian and national security border crisis.” In response, the Trump administration made far-reaching changes to asylum procedures to discourage migrants from entering the U.S. along the southwest border.

In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted virtually every aspect of the immigration system and left millions of immigrants and their families out of legislative relief, leaving many people struggling to stay afloat in a time of economic uncertainty. 

The Biden campaign listed a number of immigration-related priorities that his presidency would tackle if elected. Most of these could be accomplished through executive orders, regulations, or changes to policies and procedures rather than requiring legislation. His list included: ending the “detrimental” asylum and border exclusion policies; reinstating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program; withdrawing the public charge rule; replacing prolonged detention with effective and less restrictive alternatives; protecting Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure holders from being returned to countries that are unsafe; raising the annual refugee admission numbers; rescinding the Muslim travel bans; and streamlining and improving the naturalization process.

In this episode, we talk with Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, Policy Counsel at the American Immigration Council about immigration law and policy and what to expect under the Biden administration.

Aaron Reichlin-Melnick is Policy Counsel at the American Immigration Council, where he works primarily on immigration court issues and the intersection of immigration law and policy. He previously worked as a Staff Attorney at the Council, working on impact litigation, Freedom of Information Act litigations, and practice advisories.

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Published: Thursday, December 24, 2020

Last Updated: Thursday, December 24, 2020

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