Trump vs. Biden: Immigration


Luke Castrina

To say that immigration has been a controversial and relevant topic for Americans would be a major understatement. The discussion around immigration and the challenges our country faces over it have been greatly inflamed during the Trump administration. The most notable points of contention being the controversial policies laid out by Trump during his presidency: southern border wall, ‘muslim ban’, child separation, DACA, and the path to citizenship. 


The Biden administration has laid out what is arguably its most dramatic policy area shift from the Trump administration, in its actions taken on Immigration. This has led to many republicans and conservatives unsettled and upset with the erasure of the previous administration’s controversial policies, while democrats and liberals see it as righting the wrongs of the last four years. Let’s find out what that looks like.



Back in 2015, Donald J. Trump, the reality tv star and businessman, announced his candidacy for the Republican Presidential Nomination. Trump gave us a look at what his priorities would be if he were to become president–at the top of the list, immigration reform. 


At the time, undocumented immigration from the southern border into the US was at a high, and many criticized the Obama administration for its poor handling of the situation and the conditions that those trying to enter the country were facing. Despite Trump seeking reform, in many ways he made the situation worse. 


Trump’s largest policy promise on the campaign was the infamous ‘Wall’. Trump sought to end all undocumented immigration in the US by erecting a spanning physical barrier preventing entrance into Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. He promoted this idea through a campaign of xenophobic and nationalist rhetoric that would seek to scare white america into supporting this bloated effort. 


Trump did end up building portions of the wall along the border but corrupt, overpriced, and poorly designed contracts for the project made for a much higher cost for the taxpayer, while not actually preventing immigrants from passing the border without proper documentation. Despite the wall not achieving the goals Trump set, his other policies were more successful. 


Trump greatly ramped up the security and funding at the southern border, was much more aggressive in the detainment and punishment of those seeking asylum into the country, and sought to end the DACA program set up by the Obama administration. Deportations increased, the rate of new Americans being allowed citizenship sharply declined, and most disturbingly, the number of child separations of immigrant children from their parents exploded. 


Trump used these aggressive tactics as a deterrent from anyone trying to ‘legally’ or ‘illegally’ enter the country, and he succeeded. However, stopping those from entering from the south was not the only priority of the Trump administration. 


Only a few weeks into his presidency, Trump signed a highly controversial executive order that would come to be known as the ‘Muslim Ban’. The order sought to prevent the entry of foreign terrorists into the US despite the majority of terrorist acts coming from domestic, white supremacists. The ban solely targeted African and Middle-Eastern nations with majority Islamic populations. This decision was another example of xenophobia and nationalism that was continuing to emanate from the white house.



If anything is true when it comes to immigration, it is that Biden is the polar opposite of Trump and his policies. During his campaign, Biden made clear his views on immigration, all people from all nations should be given a fair chance at becoming an American citizen. This view came into clear focus within the first hours of Biden’s presidency. 


Biden, through several executive orders and executive actions, ended all contracts for the construction of the border wall, strengthened the protections around the DACA program, reinstated roads toward citizenship, ended child separation at the border, quadrupled the refugee cap, and protected unaccompanied minors crossing the border. Biden has made sure that while under his presidency, the United States will be a welcoming place for asylum seekers and refugees from across the globe. 


Beyond his sweeping actions, Biden through his unifying and empathetic rhetoric seeks to change the image of the immigration system from one of discrimination, exclusion, and cruelty, to one of acceptance, inclusion, and humanity. 


Immigration has been possibly the most contentious and controversial issue our government has faced in the last few years. Despite nearly 99% of Americans having either descended from immigrants or are immigrants, based on data from the 2010 census, a large part of this nation has seemingly forgotten how and why they got here. This ignorance has been the largest source of discrimination and damage to those doing the same as we did hundreds of years ago. 


Trump has been the largest voice in this painful view, and his actions have perpetuated this extremely flawed type of thinking. Biden, like many who have opposed Trump, believes that the way our government has treated asylum seekers and refugees over the last four years has been nothing less than deplorable and inhumane. There has been a lot of damage inflicted on our immigration system. While this is a challenge that is not only governmental but human, the Biden administration sees the solution as treating those who wish to become Americans with respect, compassion, and empathy. Whether it be through his speeches, the stigma he is fighting to end, or the actions he is taking, Biden is making The United States a safer place for new Americans.