Building Immigration Policy Back Better
What’s the Big Idea? Recommendations for Improving Law & Policy in the Next Administration and in the States (Kara Stein ed., 2020)
6 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2021
Date Written: December 2020
Since 2017, President Trump and his allies have hurtled the politics and policy of immigration in xenophobic directions to an extent without modern precedent, and with devastating effect. The Trump presidency has instituted hundreds of restrictionist measures, including high profile initiatives that have prompted significant public controversy and many less prominent, often technical measures that have erected a sprawling, “invisible wall” and placed millions at heightened risk of deportation. With the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the administration has intensified this crackdown further, using the outbreak as a pretext to institute even more sweeping restrictions that it previously had tried but failed to achieve.
Because these measures have been implemented almost entirely through executive action, rather than new legislation, the incoming Biden administration will be well-positioned to roll back many of them—that is, provided that it commits the resources, energy, and political capital required. But even as it seeks to dismantle the Trump immigration legacy, the new administration should also lay the foundation for a more fundamental paradigm shift away from the entrenched regime of comprehensive immigration severity that enabled the Trump presidency’s xenophobic crackdown in the first place. In both its executive actions and legislative agenda on immigration, the new administration has an opportunity to embrace the more ambitious objective, as it has in other policy domains, to "build back better" in the aftermath of Trump.
Keywords: immigration, citizenship, refugees, asylum, federalism, public health, coronavirus, COVID-19, Trump, Biden, transition
JEL Classification: K37
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation